Chicken Sunbathing – Everything You Need To Know!

One of the most common issues that chickens face on a daily basis is dealing with a multitude of different weather conditions. It’s, therefore, common for chicken owners to be concerned about their birds’ health. For example, if you see your chicken laying in the sun, you may be concerned at first, but did you know that your chicken may simply be sunbathing?

Strangely enough, chickens, like humans, will sunbathe. These unusual birds genuinely take pleasure in sunbathing. Therefore, you may notice them preening in a sunny area when it’s hot, trying to soak in vitamin D. Take note that, depending on the temperature, most chickens should be also exposed to approximately 16 hours of sunlight a day. 

Continue reading to learn more about chicken sunbathing, including why chickens sunbathe, whether chickens get cold, as well as whether chickens can get too much sun, the signs and symptoms of heat stress in a chicken, and more. 

Chickens Sunbathing

Do Chickens Sunbathe?

Chickens love sunbathing. Therefore, you will often see them getting relaxed and in a comfortable position when the sun is high and bright. This action not only stimulates the bird, but chickens are genetically predisposed to try to keep themselves clean and retain their feathers during this period of rest.

Why Do Chickens Sunbathe?

Generally, chickens will sunbathe because it is enjoyable. They will, however, also bask in the sun to help disperse oils through their feathers. This is why they like to preen and pamper themselves when basking in the sun.

However, chickens may also sunbathe to maintain their body temperature, especially during cold seasons. Due to the heat from the sun, sunbathing is also thought to help chickens drive parasites from their bodies.

Do Chickens Get Cold?

In general, chickens can withstand extremely cold temperatures. According to some experts, chickens do start getting cold until the temperature inside their coop drops below minus 20 degrees Fahrenheit. However, take note that if the chicken house is moist or if they haven’t grown used to the cold, they may start to suffer sooner.

When it’s chilly outside, your hens will cuddle together in their shelter, exchanging body heat and keeping warm. Therefore, it is essential that you make sure you have enough roost space for your chickens to fit together. After all, the more body heat your flock produces, the better.

Do Chickens Like Sunbathing?

Not only do chickens love sunbathing, but this behaviour is also thought to be considered crucial for their growth and development. After all, the sun gives vitamin D to your chickens, improving their immune system and helping them disperse oils through their feathers. 

These vitamins your chickens obtain from the sun can also play a role in their ability to lay eggs. For example, chickens who are not exposed to enough light can have problems developing and laying eggs regularly.

How Many Hours Of Sunlight Do Chickens Need?

Considering sunshine is required for egg-laying poultry to stimulate their ovaries in order to produce a yolk and begin the egg-laying process, it is essential that you provide your hens with at least 16 hours of light every day. 

Can Chickens Get Too Much Sun?

While chickens love sunbathing, keep in mind that they are not heatproof. Therefore, it is considered essential that you provide your hens with not just cold water but also shade throughout the hot months.

For your chickens, in the summer, the shade is a welcome reprieve during the hottest part of the day. Even if they are allowed to roam freely in your backyard, you also need to provide your chickens with access to a place where they can also cool off and relax. 

Without adequate shade and shelter from the sun, your chickens may quickly overheat, which could result in a number of health issues- some more fatal than others.

Can Chickens Get Heat Stroke or Heat Stress?

Like people, chickens can also have heat stroke if they are exposed to extreme temperatures for an extended amount of time. When a chicken’s body reaches a fatal temperature and cannot cool down quickly enough, it experiences a heat stroke. Due to the high body temperature and dehydration, the body’s functions and organs will begin to shut down. Unfortunately, heat stroke will ultimately result in the death of your chicken.

Heat stress, on the other hand, is a condition that occurs in chickens as a result of high temperatures, particularly when accompanied by high relative humidity and low airspeed. Egg quality can be affected by severe heat stress. For example, if your hens are stressed by heat, they may lay smaller eggs with thinner shells and generally poor interior egg quality.

When your birds are exposed to high temperatures for a long time, they will typically experience heat stress before having a stroke. Therefore, if you believe your chickens be developing or have heat stress, it is recommended to take action immediately,

What Are The Signs and Symptoms of Heat Stress in a Chicken?

Recognizing the signs and symptoms of heat stress is critical for keeping your chickens safe and healthy over the summer. For example, if you observe your hens panting or breathing quickly, this could be the first sign that they are suffering from heat stress.

When chickens become overheated, they also will spread their wings and raise their feathers in the hopes of catching a cool breeze. 

Keep in mind that a chicken suffering from severe heat stress can also appear sluggish and may lay down, not moving. So, if your chicken exhibits any of these symptoms, you should act quickly to ensure the heat stress does not continue and lead to a stroke.

Final Thoughts

Surprisingly, chickens will sunbathe just like people do. Sunbathing is often pleasurable for chickens. They will, however, also bask in the sun to aid in the distribution of oils through their feathers. This is why they like preening and pampering themselves when sunbathing. On the other hand, when cold, chickens will also sunbathe to regulate their body temperature. 

However, chickens can also suffer from heat stroke if exposed to high temperatures for an extended period of time. Unfortunately, your chicken will die as a result of heat stroke. Therefore, take note that if you plan on keeping chickens indoors, you must also provide them with plenty of shade and shelter to promote sunbathing rather than forcing them to dwell in the sun.

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