The existence of wild chickens often comes as a surprise for most people. After all, a flightless, defenseless bird has no business clucking around in the woods, right?
Well, they’re out there for sure. However, they are actually derived from domestic chickens who have simply returned to the wild. But amazingly these chickens eat, sleep, and reproduce without any sort of help from humans.
If you’re trying to get a deeper understanding of your chickens you may be wondering what they would do in the wild. Here’s where chickens sleep safely in the wild and how they do it.
Are There Wild Chickens?
Chickens are thought to be rather vulnerable creatures, so it’s a common belief that they simply can’t survive in the wild by themselves.
However, that’s just not the case, and there are several places in the world where wild chickens free-range and are thriving.
Probably one of the most famous examples is the wild chickens of Hawaii, where it’s thought that hurricanes in 1982 and 1992 destroyed domestic coops, reintroducing the chickens to the jungle where the domesticated chickens mated with the wild red junglefowl.
Since there aren’t many natural predators for chickens in Hawaii these chickens have been multiplying like crazy and now dominate some areas such as Kauai. It’s also become an amazing tourist hotspot.
This isn’t the only occurrence of wild chickens though, there are also the wild chickens of the city of Fitzgerald in Georgia. It was said that many flocks of chickens were released around here, and made their way to the city of Fitzgerald, and have been thriving ever since.
Where Do Chickens Sleep In The Wild?
So, if you’re wanting to understand your backyard chickens and their sleeping habits more, then you can consider how and where they sleep in the wild.
Well, wild chickens often prefer to sleep in the lower branches of trees or under bushes to blend in with the environment. But, this isn’t always the case since there are predators in the trees, too.
Owls will hunt jungle fowls at night and eat their eggs, which is why some wild chickens will sleep on the ground, hidden under heavy bushes. In fact, if it’s a wild hen, chances are they will strictly sleep on the ground to brood their eggs.
That’s not because they can’t fly; wild fowls nest on the ground so their chicks can start foraging for food as soon as they can walk and see well enough.
So, you’ll find wild chickens sleeping on low branches, in shrubs or bushes, and anywhere else they deem safe.
How To Set Up The Perfect Sleeping Spot For My Chickens?
Our domesticated backyard chickens still share a lot of these survival instincts with their wild counterparts, and one of these instincts is where to sleep. That’s why they prefer to sleep on roosts.
A roost, also known as a perch, is a wooden pole placed in chicken coops to mimic the tree branches their ancestors slept on in nature.
Here are some tips and tricks to perfect your roost:
- Never use metal rods. Metal rods can be slippery, causing feet injuries, and they can also cause frostbite in colder climates. Wooden bars are your best option.
- Make sure it’s a rounded bar. Square or rectangular bars can cause irritated feet, or even cause infections that are vulnerable to pests and fungi. The round bars should be 2-4 inches wide to protect the chicken’s feet and make it comfortable.
- Make a ladder-like arrangement. The highest in the pecking order will sleep on the highest roost. Just make sure you don’t put them directly over each other so you wouldn’t wake up to some poo-covered chickens — believe me, I’ve seen it before!
All chickens want to sleep in a safe and comfortable space, whether they’re backyard chickens, farmhouse chickens, or wild chickens.
The coops we create in our yards are for this exact purpose. By providing a well-made roosting space our chickens will sleep safe and sound. Protection from the unknown, a warm shelter, and a place our chickens can use as their safe haven – which is one up from where they have to sleep in the wild!