chicken laying in grass

Why Do Chickens Squat or Crouch Down?

When springtime comes around, you most likely will notice that your chickens start behaving differently. Hens may begin to squat before laying or stop and squat while walking.

When you see a hen crouch and lower herself to the ground, you’ll probably see that she also flattens her back and tucks in her head. If it’s your first time raising a flock, you may be wondering what makes a chicken squat down when approached.

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What’s Behind a Chicken’s Squatting Behavior

Chicken squatting, which is also referred to as “lordosis,” occurs whenever a hen crouches to the ground, flattens her back, spreads her wings, and lowers her tail. Because of how vulnerable the chicken appears when doing this, it’s common for farmers to refer to this position as the “chicken submissive squat.”

There are two main reasons a chicken may display this squatting behavior — as a mating signal or as a form of protection.

Mating Signal

When hens reach egg-laying maturity, they will signal roosters that they are receptive to mating by squatting down. During the mating season when hens are fertile, it’s common see them squat down whenever a rooster is around. When you start seeing your hens crouch, you can expect them to start laying eggs within a few days.

Because this behavior is a submissive signal, some younger hens might also squat in front of chickens that are higher up in your flock’s pecking order. They may even squat down when you pet them because of how strong their instinct is.


Some chickens may also squat as a way to protect themselves. That’s why chickens squat when you pet them. Even if they are receptive to a rooster, mating is often a rough process for hens. When breeding, some roosters may tear feathers off the hen’s neck or scratch her back with his talons. A hen squatting allows them to protect vulnerable areas of her body, like her stomach and head while still helping her stay upright.

Crouching also offers protection from predators — if a chicken is squatting in place, they attract less attention and present a smaller target. Just like in mating, their underbelly will also be more protected if the predator tries to attack.

Keep Your Flock Healthy Through All Stages of Life

Part of the fun of keeping backyard chickens is learning their behaviors and coming to understand your flock. Here at Nature’s Best Organic Feeds, we help you meet their needs so you can keep your birds at their best. Our family-owned and operated company has been the leading certified organic feed manufacturer in the United States since 1998. Nutrition experts formulate our premium line of feed, and we regularly test our products to ensure they deliver superior quality and exceed USDA Organic requirements.

Our feeds come in organic, non-medicated, Non-GMO Project-Verified options, and we sell in both bagged and bulk quantities to support backyard flocks as well as larger operations.

Find Nature’s Best Organic Feeds in a store near you by using our store locater tool.

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