Chickens Stretching Their Wings & Legs? (What’s Normal & What’s Not)

Chickens are known to have some pretty wild and wacky mannerisms and behaviors. It’s part of the fun of being a chicken owner, after all. 

If you observe your chickens closely, you might even catch them having a good ole’ stretch, extending their legs in weird directions or contorting their wings backward.

But, just like any chicken behavior, there is “normal” stretching, and then there’s what looks to be “abnormal” stretching.

Here we go through what’s considered a normal stretch for a chicken and what can actually be some potential warning signs to watch out for.

Do Chickens Stretch?

Everyone loves a good stretch. Including chickens. 

Chickens stretch for much the same reason humans stretch: to keep the muscles strong, flexible, and healthy. Stretching benefits a chicken’s joint and muscle health; it loosens and realigns the muscles, which improves the chicken’s range of motion. 

In fact, it’s been said that a normal amount of stretching for chickens is up to about five times a day. Of course, this can vary depending on the age of the chicken and their environment too.

Let’s take a closer look at what a normal chicken stretch actually looks like.

How Do Chickens Stretch?

Once you’ve seen a chicken stretch before, you’ll be able to spot them doing it all the time! 

There are two primary ways a chicken will perform a stretch. One is brought on by the desire to stretch their LEGS, the other is to relieve and stretch their WINGS.

Here’s what the normal behaviors look like.

How Do Chickens Stretch Their Wings? 

The iconic behavior of a chicken stretching its wings is when it lurches them backward, often holding them there for several seconds before returning back to their normal stature. 

Another way chickens can stretch their wings is by spreading one or both of their wings on their side. This is sometimes accompanied by one leg stretched out too, hitting both stretches at once.

However, if your chicken has its wings sprawled out lying down in the sun, it’s actually just sunbathing – not stretching.

Both of these stretching behaviors are more often observed after your chicking has been roosting, sleeping, or sitting in one position for a long time.

How Do Chickens Stretch Their Legs

The main way a chicken stretches their legs is by extending them out to the side or behind itself, sometimes accompanied by a wing stretch too.

It’s always one leg at a time. They won’t often go from stretching one to the other in quick succession. Instead, they will stretch each leg at different times.

What About A Chicken Stretching Their Neck?

It may look like your chickens are hitting a good stretch in their neck, opening their beaks and making regurgitating motions. 

To new chicken owners, this behavior can look like your chicken is trying to throw up. But, what they are actually doing is just readjusting food in their crop.

It’s completely normal behavior – and it isn’t stretching either!

What Does Abnormal Stretching Look Like?

Once you’re familiar with a chicken’s “normal” stretching behavior, it’s quite easy to pick up when something is not quite right.

Abnormal stretching is almost always brought on by injury. This can manifest in your chicken stretching the impacted limb much more frequently, or into strange positions.

In both cases, this continuous or contorted stretching can be an indicator that your chickens are in pain or are at least feeling uncomfortable.

For example, a chicken with bumblefoot may stretch the affected leg more often to try to relieve some of the pain – especially if they’ve been walking on it constantly.

So, it’s a good idea to look out for any frequent stretching, or any stretches that look completely out of the norm.

Do Baby Chicks Stretch?

Like full-grown chickens, it’s perfectly normal for chicks to stretch too – though it is less frequent.

It’s considered normal for baby chicks to stretch their legs or wings out from time to time, but a baby chick who is stretching too often, or in strange ways, may actually be showing signs of injury or deformity.

This is because chicks are much more prone to injury and illness, and can, unfortunately, end up with one of a handful of conditions.

For example, Splayed legs or “Spraddle leg” is a weakness, muscle imbalance, or injury that leads to curled toes or contorted legs, especially prominent in newly hatched baby chicks.

This often prevents baby chicks from walking properly, with many falling over or losing balance much more easily.

An affected baby chick may look like it’s stretching its leg often, but it’s more commonly something more serious.

Final Thoughts 

Don’t be concerned if you see your chickens stretching multiple times a day.

If it appears like a normal stretch of their legs or wings, it’s completely normal, and completely healthy too!

Once you’re familiar with the common positions chickens can stretch themselves into, it’s easy to identify when a chicken is stretching from pain or discomfort.

Don’t ignore any of these warning signs. It’s always worth examining your chooks for injuries or illnesses so you can intervene and help as soon as possible!

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