If you are a backyard chicken keeper, you may have noticed your hens laying on their sides, and wondered if this is normal. While hens do occasionally lay on their sides for a rest or to get comfortable, it can also be a sign of a health issue or environmental stress. In this section, we will explore the behavior of chickens laying on their sides and provide tips and advice on how to properly care for them.

Laying on their side may indicate potential problems, such as egg binding, dehydration, or even a neurological disorder. It’s important to know how to recognize if your hen is in distress when she is in this position. We will also discuss the significance of a balanced and nutritious diet, a suitable housing and environment, and regular health checks and veterinary care to prevent this behavior.

Key Takeaways:

  • Chicken laying on side behavior may indicate potential health issues or environmental stress.
  • It’s important to recognize signs of distress when a hen is laying on her side.
  • A balanced and nutritious diet, proper housing and environment, and regular veterinary care can help prevent this behavior.

Reasons Behind Chicken Laying on Side Behavior

Have you ever found your chicken lying down in a sideways position? This behavior can be concerning for any poultry owner, and understanding the reasons behind it is crucial for providing appropriate care. Let’s take a closer look at some of the potential causes of chicken laying on side behavior.

Poor Health Conditions

One of the most significant reasons that chickens may lay on their sides is because of health issues. Chickens suffering from illnesses or infections may experience weakness and lethargy that can cause them to lay down and remain in a sideways position for extended periods.

If you notice that your chicken is consistently laying on her side, it may be a sign of an underlying health issue. It’s essential to monitor your bird’s behavior and seek veterinary care if the issue persists.

Environmental Factors

Another factor that may contribute to chickens laying on their sides is the environment in which they live. Chickens require adequate space to move around, and overcrowding can cause stress and lead to abnormal behavior such as laying on their sides.

Temperature is also critical to the health of your chickens. If the coop is too hot or too cold, chickens may become uncomfortable and resort to laying on their sides for relief.

Nutritional Deficiencies

Chickens require a balanced and nutritious diet to maintain their health, and deficiencies in critical nutrients such as calcium can lead to laying abnormalities. If your chicken is consistently laying on her side, it may be an indication of a nutritional deficiency.


Lastly, stress can be a significant contributing factor to chickens laying on their sides. Stressful conditions such as bullying from other chickens, loud noises, or frequent disturbances can cause chickens to become anxious and resort to laying on their sides as a coping mechanism.

Understanding the reasons behind chicken laying on side behavior is essential for providing appropriate care and treatment. If you suspect your chicken is suffering from any of the conditions mentioned above, seeking veterinary care is crucial for ensuring the health and well-being of your feathered friend.

Recognizing Signs of Distress in Laying Hens

It is important to monitor your laying hens regularly, especially if you notice them lying on their sides. This behavior may be an indication that they are in distress, and it is crucial to inspect them for any signs of discomfort or sickness. Here are some signs to look out for:

  • Labored breathing: If your hen is experiencing difficulty breathing or panting heavily, it may be a sign of respiratory distress.
  • Lethargy: If your hen appears weak and uninterested in food or water, it may indicate an underlying illness.
  • Reduced egg production: If your hen is laying fewer eggs or has stopped laying altogether, it may be a sign of stress or illness.
  • Abnormal droppings: If your hen’s droppings are runny or discolored, it may indicate a parasitic or bacterial infection.
  • Weight loss or gain: Significant weight changes in your hen may be a sign of stress or illness.

If you notice any of these signs in your laying hen, it is important to take action as soon as possible to prevent further health problems. Consult with a veterinarian or a poultry expert for advice on how to proceed with treatment.

Providing Proper Housing and Environment

Proper housing and environment are crucial in preventing abnormal laying behaviors such as chickens laying on their sides. It is essential to provide a clean, safe, and comfortable living space for your feathered friends. Here are some tips to follow:

Coop Design Bedding Temperature Control Space Requirements
Ensure the coop has adequate ventilation to prevent the buildup of toxic gases. Use clean, dry bedding to prevent dampness and bacteria growth. Maintain a consistent temperature between 50-78 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent heat stress or cold stress. Provide at least 3-4 square feet of space per bird inside the coop and an outdoor run area.
Avoid overcrowding, as this can lead to stress and aggression. Consider using natural materials such as straw or wood chips, as they are absorbent and provide good insulation. Use fans and insulation during extreme weather conditions. Ensure there is enough space for chickens to move around and exercise.
Install predator-proof fencing and locks to keep your chickens safe from potential predators. Clean the coop and replace bedding on a regular basis to maintain hygiene. Provide shade and cool, fresh water during hot weather. Make sure there is a roosting area for chickens to perch at night.

By following these guidelines, you can ensure a comfortable and safe living environment for your laying hens, which can prevent abnormal laying behaviors such as laying on their sides.

Ensuring a Balanced and Nutritious Diet

Feeding your laying hens a balanced and nutritious diet is essential to their overall health and well-being, and can help prevent behaviors such as laying on their sides. A diet lacking in certain nutrients can lead to health issues that may contribute to this behavior.

It is important to provide your hens with a diet that is rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals. This can be achieved through a variety of feed options, including pellets, crumbles, or a mixture of grains. You can also supplement their diet with fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs to provide additional nutrients.

Calcium is especially important for laying hens, as it helps to form strong eggshells. You can provide your hens with calcium through oyster shells or crushed eggshells. It is also important to ensure your hens have access to clean, fresh water at all times.

When formulating a diet for your laying hens, it is important to consult a veterinarian or poultry nutritionist to ensure that their dietary needs are being met. Overfeeding, underfeeding, or an imbalanced diet can have negative effects on your hens’ health and may contribute to laying on their sides.

Regular Health Checks and Veterinary Care

Regular health checks and veterinary care are essential for maintaining the well-being of your laying hens. As chickens are susceptible to a variety of health issues, it is important to be proactive in preventing potential illnesses and seeking professional advice when necessary.

Preventive measures such as vaccinations and parasite control should be implemented to ensure your flock is healthy. Additionally, it is important to observe your hens’ behavior and physical condition regularly to identify any changes that may indicate a health issue.

If you notice your hen consistently laying on its side, it may be a sign of an underlying health problem. In such cases, it is crucial to seek veterinary care as soon as possible. Delaying treatment could lead to further complications and a decline in the overall health of your bird.

Furthermore, it is important to establish a good relationship with a qualified avian veterinarian who can provide expert advice and care for your laying hens.

By implementing regular health checks and veterinary care, you can ensure your chickens remain healthy and continue to lay eggs regularly.

Creating a Stress-Free Environment

Providing a stress-free environment for your chickens is essential to prevent them from laying on their sides. Chickens can experience stress from various factors, including overcrowding, lack of natural light, loud noises, and sudden changes in their surroundings. High-stress levels can also negatively impact their overall health and egg production.

Here are some practical tips to promote a stress-free environment:

  • Ensure adequate space by providing at least 4 square feet of coop space per chicken and a minimum of 10 square feet of outdoor space.
  • Minimize noise by placing the coop away from busy areas or using soundproofing materials.
  • Provide natural light by allowing access to windows or using artificial lighting that mimics natural daylight hours.
  • Limit sudden changes in their surroundings by keeping the coop clean and tidy and avoiding changes in their feed or environment.

Remember, a healthy and happy chicken is a productive chicken. By reducing stress and providing a comfortable environment, you can help prevent laying hens from laying on their sides and ensure their overall wellbeing.


Understanding chicken laying on side behavior is crucial for the well-being of our feathered friends. It is important to identify the reasons behind this behavior and to take appropriate measures to prevent it.

Regular health checks, a balanced diet, stress reduction, and a suitable housing environment are all essential for preventing chickens from laying on their sides. Keeping an eye out for distress signals and seeking veterinary care when necessary is also important in maintaining the health of our laying hens.

We hope that this article has provided you with valuable insight and practical tips on how to care for your chickens. By taking the necessary precautions and providing appropriate care, we can ensure that our feathered friends lead happy, healthy lives.


Q: What is the behavior of chickens laying on their sides?

A: Chickens laying on their sides is an abnormal behavior and may indicate a potential health issue or environmental factor.

Q: What are the reasons behind chickens laying on their sides?

A: Chickens may lay on their sides due to various reasons, including health issues or discomfort caused by their environment.

Q: How can I recognize signs of distress in laying hens?

A: Signs of distress in laying hens laying on their sides may include lethargy, loss of appetite, or difficulty breathing. Immediate attention and care may be required.

Q: How can I provide proper housing and environment for chickens?

A: Proper coop design, suitable bedding, temperature control, and sufficient space are essential in preventing chickens from laying on their sides.

Q: What is the significance of a balanced and nutritious diet for laying hens?

A: A balanced and nutritious diet is crucial for the overall health of laying hens, helping to prevent issues that may lead to them laying on their sides.

Q: Why is regular health checks and veterinary care important for laying hens?

A: Regular health checks and veterinary care, including preventive measures and vaccinations, can help identify and address any underlying health issues that may cause a hen to consistently lay on its side.

Q: How can I create a stress-free environment for my chickens?

A: Providing a stress-free environment for chickens is important in preventing abnormal laying behaviors. Practical tips on reducing stress and promoting well-being will be discussed.

Categorized in: