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chickens sleeping on their backs

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

Why do chickens go to sleep if you lay them on their backs?

post #2 of 12

My guess would be lack of oxygen.  Chicken anatomy is not like humans.  Their lungs are close to their back.  Put them on their back and all their other organs are pressing on the lungs, not allowing for normal breathing. 

http://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/uploads/4810_chicken_anatomy.jpg

That's my guess anyhow.  hu

If there ever comes a day when we can't be together keep me in your heart, I'll stay there forever - Winnie the Pooh
I'll never develop a thick skin.  Thick skin leads to a hard heart and I never want to be one of those people.
A slave to LF brahmas, seramas, cochins, sebrights, and call ducks.  R.I.P. Dragon, the crossbeak.  Thank you for teaching me so much about life.

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If there ever comes a day when we can't be together keep me in your heart, I'll stay there forever - Winnie the Pooh
I'll never develop a thick skin.  Thick skin leads to a hard heart and I never want to be one of those people.
A slave to LF brahmas, seramas, cochins, sebrights, and call ducks.  R.I.P. Dragon, the crossbeak.  Thank you for teaching me so much about life.

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post #3 of 12

I'm not 100 % on this but I believe it's not comfortable for a chickens respiratory system to be upside down? Could be a load of bull but I don't do it to mine because I don't think they like it anyway...only time I flip 'em over is if I have a randy young roo wink
...umm yeah! What Gritsar said! So it IS true...lol


Edited by NYRIR - 5/27/11 at 6:49pm

1 Weim,1 Pomeranian, 2 Cats,2 fish tanks, flock of 30(or so ) BLRW chickens,flock of Banties(Cochins,Showgirls,Greylegs and Silkies), Flock of Ancona Ducks (B&W,Lav & W),Flock of Mallards (Blue Fawn and Restricteds) 6 Muscovies, 3 Narragansett Turkeys,2 Geese(Toulouse), 2 Budgies,2 zebra finch, 2 Cockatiels.... and oh yeah, 5 great kids( 2 have flown the coop) and an enabling hubby   

 

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1 Weim,1 Pomeranian, 2 Cats,2 fish tanks, flock of 30(or so ) BLRW chickens,flock of Banties(Cochins,Showgirls,Greylegs and Silkies), Flock of Ancona Ducks (B&W,Lav & W),Flock of Mallards (Blue Fawn and Restricteds) 6 Muscovies, 3 Narragansett Turkeys,2 Geese(Toulouse), 2 Budgies,2 zebra finch, 2 Cockatiels.... and oh yeah, 5 great kids( 2 have flown the coop) and an enabling hubby   

 

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post #4 of 12

Could be that birds in general not generally accustomed to being on their back which could make them disoriented.  Closing eyes might reduce discomfort.

Make every effort to understand your chicken's biology and the environment that supports it.
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Make every effort to understand your chicken's biology and the environment that supports it.
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post #5 of 12

Many parrots like to lay on their backs and relax while being held by their owners, they seem very comfortable doing it. I've even known some that liked to lay on their backs on the bottom of their cages.

I don't know if chickens enjoy it the same way, but I'd be careful doing this very much with young chicks especially, because of the location of the lungs; you don't want to accidentally deprive them of air for too long.

Currently chicken-less, hoping to get a fresh start soon.
My wish-list: Old English Game Bantams, American Game, D'uccles, Japanese Bantams, Bantam Cornish, Large Fowl Cornish, Lakenvelders, Welsummers, Kraienkoppen, Andalusians, Speckled Sussex, Cubalaya, Sumatra, Easter Egger (large and bantam), Orpingtons, Iowa Blue, Marans...I think I'm going to need a lot of pens!
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Currently chicken-less, hoping to get a fresh start soon.
My wish-list: Old English Game Bantams, American Game, D'uccles, Japanese Bantams, Bantam Cornish, Large Fowl Cornish, Lakenvelders, Welsummers, Kraienkoppen, Andalusians, Speckled Sussex, Cubalaya, Sumatra, Easter Egger (large and bantam), Orpingtons, Iowa Blue, Marans...I think I'm going to need a lot of pens!
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post #6 of 12

That is what I have always heard--what gritsar said--about lack of oxygen to the brain...ep

Wife to a Wonderful Husband- Mom to a Wonderful Son-a Jack Russell Mix-2 Cats-3 RIR-5 BO-3 SLW-4 BR-1 EE
And a Follower of Jesus Christ
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Wife to a Wonderful Husband- Mom to a Wonderful Son-a Jack Russell Mix-2 Cats-3 RIR-5 BO-3 SLW-4 BR-1 EE
And a Follower of Jesus Christ
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post #7 of 12

Ours sleep in the wierdest positions sometimes....

Caught 'em sunbathing in the run yesterday all in a big 'ol heap, like they were itty bitty chicks (they're 10wks and nothing like little any longer!).  A few were on their sides - nearly on their backs - with their HEADS UPSIDE DOWN!!!  Yep, completely turned wrong - way up.  Wierdest looking thing.

Of course, our dog had to 'awaken' them because they weren't clucking around like 'normal'.  barnie

So, yes, ours sort of sleep on their backs - well, at least their heads are!

-- Blessed are the flexible, for they will not break --

Beloved spouse of wonderful husband, Mom to two men-in-training, 4 Eastern 3-toed box turtles, 1 spoiled parrotlet, 1 playful feline and a jealous dog.  20 Black Java laying flock.  Love our Java's!  Meaties growin' in the barn.  Bees humming in the garden.  Orchard going in.  Work never ever completed - but loving it! 

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-- Blessed are the flexible, for they will not break --

Beloved spouse of wonderful husband, Mom to two men-in-training, 4 Eastern 3-toed box turtles, 1 spoiled parrotlet, 1 playful feline and a jealous dog.  20 Black Java laying flock.  Love our Java's!  Meaties growin' in the barn.  Bees humming in the garden.  Orchard going in.  Work never ever completed - but loving it! 

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post #8 of 12

I doubt its from lack of oxygen, location of lungs not withstanding. Birds lungs work very, very differently than mammals and are quite a bit more efficient. No diaphragm. They have air sacs that are filled as they breath and pass air through the lungs both as they inhale and exhale. If you restrict their chest so they can't inflate their air sacs you will have a problem and the can suffocate.

I always thought that the quieting down you see when laying a hen on her back was a self-preservation response to being caught by a predator.  Laying a chicken on its back is a very abnormal position. One you might be in if a predator were to grab you and pin you. If an animal struggles when caught the predator will only become more aggressive about the kill: clamp harder, shake the victim etc. If the animal lays quietly the predator may think that the animal is dead and may relax or let go of their grip thus allowing the prey item to escape and see another day.

post #9 of 12
I found my chicken laying on his back this morning. Freaked out thinking it was dead lol. Picked her up and gave her a cuddle and put her on the ground. She was definitely a bit disorientated as she fell over a cpl of times but then just walked off like normal. Hopefully she's fine maybe just sleeping like u say but a little bit worrying lol.
post #10 of 12

Good question and great answers. Many truths in these words. My truth is this: I am going to be doing a bit of bumblefoot surgery (ashamed to confess this). The local cat/dog vets will not sell me even the simplest of surgical tools, like a double-ended House curette or a biopsy punch. The farm supply stores are so limited in what they sell, really not worth the mention. That said, anesthetics are out and anesthesia (sp?) is not recommended even if I could even afford it. And so, I am grateful the Lord made birds to be calm and relaxed when put on their backs (and their sides). I'm fine with that and hope it stays that way.

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