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6 Reasons Chickens Stand on One Leg

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Have you ever glanced out of the window at your chicken coop and witnessed one or more of your chickens doing their best flamingo imitation? Of course, chickens standing on one leg aren’t common, but they aren’t rare.

Chickens can stand on one leg for several reasons. One of the most common reasons is that they’re cold. They lift a leg up so it’s closer to their feathers and will keep their feet warm.

Another reason may be that they’re injured. Other times, chickens stand on one leg because it’s comfortable.

 chicken standing on one leg on a gravel driveway.

You shouldn’t worry if you see your chicken standing on one leg. They do it frequently, a lot like ducks, for example.

However, you should take a look to see whether your chicken has any foot problems or has any reason to favor one foot over the other. For example, standing on one foot could signify that your chicken is in pain.

Let’s look at some of the reasons why chickens stand on one leg and what you should do about it, if anything. Here are six of the most common reasons why chickens stand on one leg.

1. Chickens Stand on One Leg Because They’re Cold

A rooster stands on one leg from the ground of the farmhouse

If you see your chickens standing on one leg, it could be because they’re feeling chilly.

Either the temperatures are low enough outside where they feel like they need to warm their feet by bringing them closer to their core, or the ground of their coop or whatever they’re standing on feels too cold.

Imagine if you were standing barefoot on a cold surface. There is a good chance you’d be shifting your weight from foot to foot to try to warm them up.

It could be that their coop needs some insulation or a heat source to keep them warmer.

If it’s more than just one chicken standing on one foot, you may want to consider various ways to heat up your coop.

2. Your Chicken May Be Injured

Another reason your chicken may be standing on one leg is that they’re hurt and nursing an injury.

When physically impaired, a chicken can stand on one leg because either they can’t extend their leg or they have an infection that affects their ability to stand.

3. There Could Be an Infection

Person treating Chicken's foot infected with bumble foot to help it heal.

A common bird infection is called bumblefoot, which causes duck and chicken feet to swell and become painful.

When a chicken’s full weight is down on its feet, it can cause intense pain, so chickens often shift their weight as a short-term solution.

4. They Could Have Scaly Mites

Chickens with broken feet and other injuries also frequently stand on one foot to ease their pain. Scaly mites are a big cause for concern because they infect chicken feet and can ultimately paralyze your chickens.

Scaly Chicken legs and claw feet

If you suspect your chickens have mites, you need to get them treated as quickly as possible.

5. They Could be Resting

If your chicken is resting on its perch, you may spot them perching on just one leg. Chickens feel relaxed while they stand on one leg while perching.

Perching Chickens Use One Leg

Most of the time, chickens will find the pose they love and stay there for hours. Chickens regularly perch inside of their coop, but you may occasionally find them perched on a fence or a railing if you let them roam freely.

6. They Could Have Thorns or Splinters

You can also gently grab ahold of the foot in question and give it a closer look. Check to see if there are any thorns or splinters in the foot or leg area.

If it’s an easy removal with a pair of tweezers, you can try to get it out yourself.

Otherwise, ask your vet if they can see the chicken and remove whatever is bothering it.

Ground level perspective with focus on a single white chicken with raised leg standing in road.

Ways to Spot Injuries on Your Chickens

Usually, a perching chicken or a chicken trying to stay warm in the winter is no big deal.

Let them perch for as long as they’d like and think nothing of it. They’ll change positions when they need to or when they want to move around a bit.

However, sometimes chickens stand on one foot when there is a problem, so how can you tell when you need to be worried?

If you spot a chicken that’s standing on one leg, keep an eye on how they move around. Your chicken may walk with a visible limp or otherwise favor their weak leg.

Get up close for a better look and inspect your chicken’s leg for any inflammation, redness, blood, broken toenails, or anything else that might be bothering them.

If there are any signs of an obvious injury, give your vet a call and schedule a visit. However, even if you’re unsure, you may want to visit the vet for peace of mind.

two veterinarians in facial masks and white uniform examining chicken in hen house

How to Inspect Your Chicken’s Feet

Sometimes, getting ahold of your chicken is enough of a struggle. Thinking about how you will keep your chicken calm while you run your hands over its feet is another thing.

Inspecting a chicken’s feet can be challenging, especially if the bird is particularly shy.

Here’s how you can gently take a look to see what’s bothering it:

Once the chicken is in your arms, you can turn it onto its back to lift its feet into the air. When they are in this position, chickens will either close their eyes or look off into the distance in a meditative stare. Holding them upside down should buy you enough time to give its feet a good look.

Red rooster sits on chair with one leg

Final Thoughts: Don’t Panic

Remember that standing on one foot is something chickens have done for centuries. It’s perfectly normal behavior, and your chickens are probably simply trying to get into a comfortable position.

We all want the best for our chickens. Thankfully, most of the time, chickens standing on one foot aren’t cause for alarm.

If, however, you think something’s wrong, follow our advice and follow up to ensure your bird isn’t in too much pain.

Fast action and proper medical attention when there is an injury is the best way to take care of your chicken and literally get it back on its feet.


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