If you own a flock of chickens, you may have noticed that your hens will exhibit a squatting behavior from time to time. When approached, a squatting hen will typically crouch down with her feathers tucked under her shoulders, almost as if she is waiting to be lifted into your arms. This behavior is completely normal, and is not a cause for concern.
Egg Laying Maturity
Squatting is often a sign that your hen has reached maturity. She is signaling that she is ready to lay eggs, and she may very well have already laid her first egg by the time you notice this behavior. To seek out this behavior you can attempt to pick up your hen. If she assumes the squatting position, then you will know that she is already a laying bird.
Squatting can also be a sign of submissive, instinctual behavior in your hens. Hens will squat to shift themselves into the mating position. They do this when they are ready for the rooster to approach them for mating. If you do not have a rooster in your flock, hens will often be submissive to their human family members. It is not uncommon for a hen to squat in the presence of her owner.
A squatting hen is a protected hen. By squatting when a rooster or human approaches, the hen is very low to the ground and her underbelly is protected. In this sense, the squatting act is a defense and protective mechanism. Roosters will still mate with a squatting hen, but this position will help her to stay balanced and protected.
If none of the above causes seem to apply to your hen, or if your hen is exhibiting other behaviors along with the squatting, consult your veterinarian. It is always helpful to seek a professional opinion if you are concerned with the well-being of your animals.
- Homesteading in the 21st Century; George Nash and Jane Waterman
- Free-Range Chicken Gardens: How to Create a Beautiful, Chicken-Friendly Yard; Jessi Bloom and Kate Baldwin
- Keep Chickens!: Tending Small Flocks in Cities, Suburbs, and Other Small Spaces; Barbara Kilarski
Hannah Reid has a Master of Education from Harvard University, as well as a Bachelor of Arts in English and psychology from Hamilton College. She has worked with children in grades three through 12, providing academic support in the areas of writing and reading comprehension. Hannah also blogs about her family farm and offers tips on everything from chicken coops to kitten care.