Do Chickens Like Sunbathing (& Can They Get Sunburned?)

Have you ever experienced that mini heart attack you get when you see your chickens sprawled motionless on the ground only to find out they were sunbathing?

If you know, you know.

So it’s obvious these feathery fluff-balls of mayhem enjoy the sunshine, right? 

Here’s how you can tell if your chickens are sunbathing, why they sunbathe and if they enjoy it, if it’s safe (even in summer), and whether chickens can get sunburned.

Let’s get into it.

How To Tell If Your Chickens Are Sunbathing

So how do you know if your chickens are actually sunbathing, or if they are simply lying on their side for another reason?

Well, generally chickens that are sunbathing will sprawl themselves out in the sun and spread out their wings to maximize their surface area to absorb more heat.

Chickens will prefer to sunbathe where it’s comfortable, like on grass or dirt. But it’s not uncommon for them to sunbathe on concrete or other surfaces too.

If your chickens are kicking or digging in the dirt, then it’s more likely they are just dust-bathing.

But, if they aren’t dust-bathing and they aren’t injured or ill, then it’s very likely they are just enjoying the sunshine!

Why Do Chickens Sunbathe?

We all know chickens do very unpredictable things. It’s part of what makes raising chickens so enjoyable. There’s always some antics going on in the backyard!

Sure, the first time you see your chickens lying motionless in the sun it’s normal to panic. But once you realize your chickens are just sunbathing, the next question you might be asking is: so why do they do it?

As it turns out chickens sunbathe to:

  1. Regulate Body Temperature: Chickens are warm-blooded, they use their environment to help maintain a constant and advantageous body temperature. Lying in the sun to absorb heat, or standing on one leg to conserve body heat in the cold! 
  2. To Receive Its Benefits: Even chickens know that the sun is highly beneficial for their health. Direct sunlight has many positive effects on chickens, from the essential vitamin D, to regulating their egg production, to basic pest control! 
  3. They Enjoy It: the simplest and most obvious reason chickens sunbathe is that they enjoy the feeling of the sun on their feathers and their bodies!

Do Chickens Like Sunbathing?

You know that wholesome feeling when you’re sipping your favorite refreshing beverage, sitting outside literally soaking up the sun?

Well, chickens like to do the same thing in their own chicken-like way!

Chickens absolutely LOVE sunbathing. Although there are some benefits from the sunshine that goes further than just their enjoyment, they do it mostly because it feels amazing.

It’s not uncommon for chickens to nap in the sun either!

Sunbathing is even considered a social activity for chickens, where they choose to sunbathe with their friends in the flock.

However, not all chickens like to sunbathe, some prefer to squat in the shade or are constantly on the prowl for snacks throughout the backyard.

Still, it’s clear that most chickens genuinely enjoy sunbathing!

Can Chickens Get Sunburned?

Due to a chicken’s thick feathers covering its entire body they are at very little risk of getting sunburned!

But, if your chickens are molting or you have a featherless chicken breed then it’s entirely possible for them to get sunburned.

Luckily if these featherless chickens do get sunburned it’s usually quite mild, only causing minor skin irritations. Still, it’s possible that infection or further injury can take place.

Nonetheless, if your chickens are fully feathered then it’s highly unlikely they will get sunburned and it’s completely safe for them to be out in the sun.

Is It OK For Chickens To Lie In The Sun

Any experienced chicken owner would be lying if they said they haven’t been concerned for their chickens in the heat of the summer.

Although chickens are generally pretty good at regulating their own body temperature, in extreme heat it’s obvious they become uncomfortable. 

However, unless you are facing unprecedented heat, it’s completely safe for your chickens to lie in the sun! Frankly, it would be hard to stop them from doing it anyway as you can’t keep your eye on them 24/7! 

If it is rather hot and you are concerned for their wellbeing, the best thing you can do is to provide them with enough cold, fresh water, and a comfortable shady place to shelter in.

Final Thoughts

As funny as it looks, a chicken sunbathing is completely normal!

Although chickens will sunbathe for a variety of reasons, the main reason is simply that they love to do it!

Don’t worry, it’s not common for chickens to get sunburned unless they are missing their feathers.

Even in summer when things seem a bit hot for chickens, you shouldn’t be too concerned if you see them sunbathing. Chickens are smart enough to seek shade and hydrate themselves accordingly.

Happy backyard farming everyone!

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