Why Do Chickens Stand on One Leg? 3 Reasons

Chickens are a very interesting animal, and you’ll probably learn something new about them every day. One of the things you may see sometimes is your chicken standing on one leg. If this is your first time seeing your chicken doing that, you may wonder if that’s normal or something else.

So, why do chickens stand on one leg? Chickens stand on one leg due to a couple of reasons. It could due to an injury on their foot or leg, keeping warm, or resting.

Why Do Chickens Stand on One Leg?

Chickens will stand on their legs for a couple of reasons. Below are the 3 most common reason for chickens to stand on one leg:

 1. Injury To Their Leg or Feet

When they are not resting, if the chicken is standing on one leg, it means there could be an injury to their feet or leg.

Some of the most common foot or leg-related issues that cause them to stand one foot includes:

Bumblefoot – This is a common bacterial infection for many birds including chickens. This infection is also called “sore socks”.

Chickens that have bumblefoot will have swelling and inflammation. This infection is very painful for the chicken.

It affects both adult chickens and chicks. If you see any of your chickens standing on one leg and can’t put their foot down, seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Broken Toes or Injuries to Toenail – In their feet are tiny fragile bones. If it gets caught up in the chicken wire or tree branches, it will cause a broken toe.

This will cause the injured foot too painful for the chickens to stand on.

The treatment for this will need a veterinary that specializes in avian to handle it.

Scaly Leg Mites – Scaly mites are caused by parasites that live in the ground. These mites bury themselves into the ground and wait for the unexpected prey like chickens to come along. As the chickens come closer, they will attach themselves to the leg of the chicken.

Once they are on the chicken leg, the mite will burrow under their scales. This will cause pain and discomfort for the chicken.

The chicken will stand on one foot to try to alleviate the pain from the mites.

If it’s left untreated, it can be painful for the chicken, and they will be unable to walk around.

2. Warmth

If you notice your chickens are standing on one leg, and it’s cold outside, this is something normal for them to do.

The chicken’s bodies are designed perfectly for keeping them warm, even in cold weather. Depending on the breed or species, some may have feathers, down, plumage, and other forms of coats to keep them warm.

One part of the body that is often exposed is its legs. Chickens don’t have feathers on their legs to keep it warm, and it’s often standing on the cold ground.

In order to warm up their legs, they will usually tuck one leg into their body. They’ll repeat this process with both legs throughout the day when it’s cold.

According to birdnote.org, the bird’s legs have an adaptation called “rete mirabile”. This is something chickens and other birds have to minimize heat loss. The arteries that transport warm blood into their legs are in contact with the veins to return colder blood to the bird’s heart.

Tucking their leg into their body will prevent heat loss through their legs by at least half.

3. Resting

Chickens spend a lot of their time foraging for food. This means that they are always on their feet.

Much like people, when we are walking, running, or doing activities that require us to be on our feet, our legs will get tired. This is the same for chickens.

For that reason, you may sometimes see your chickens standing on one leg. If they do, they are just resting their leg.

However, not all chickens will rest standing on one leg. Others will lay just lay on the ground.

What to Do If Your Chicken Is Standing on One Leg

Most of the time, the chickens standing on one leg are just resting or keeping their legs warm.

However, there are times their legs are injured when they are standing on one leg.

Whenever you see one of the chickens standing on one leg, keep a close eye on them. One thing you can do to make sure it’s not an injury is to walk close to them. They should start walking right away.

On the other hand, if the chicken isn’t budging or hopping on one leg, that’s a clear sign they have an injury to their leg.


If you notice your chicken is standing on one leg, the first thing to do is watch them carefully. Just do a quick test by walking close to them to see if it’s an injury, or they are resting or keeping their legs warm. Each chicken has their own personality and some will stand on the leg and others will never.