Are my chicks afraid of the dark?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by catchthewind, May 9, 2011.

  1. catchthewind

    catchthewind Songster

    Jan 27, 2011
    Vancouver Island
    My chicks are 5-7 weeks old. I've had them in a large brooder with a red heat lamp on, but the lamp has only been in one corner and the rest of the brooder gets down to room temperature (which has been around 67). There are two roosts near the lamp, but not right under it, and they tend to sleep on the roosts or in the corner under the lamp (but not piled under it). This past week I've been turning the heat off completely during the day, and decided tonight to turn it off overnight to prep them for going outside to the coop in a week or two. All seemed fine, until a couple of hours after I had turned the light off they suddenly started freaking out. I don't know how else to describe it. Peeping doesn't cover it, they were literally screeching and flapping around, banging into the brooder walls and the roof of the brooder. I was upstairs at the time putting my daughter to bed and I could hear them start up clear across the house. It's a 2.5'x6' brooder so it's not like it's tiny.

    I went in there with a little light and could see them flapping around, banging into the top and screeching. I didn't see all of them, so opened the door to the non-wire section (it's a rabbit hutch), and four of the chicks were in there, lying down. I touched one of them and she jumped up and screeched and went running in with the others. Two of the others went running in with the others too. The last one, a Silkie, screeched when I reached for her and was flapping around crazily. Very uncharacteristic of all of them. I turned the heat light back on, and after a minute or two of screeching and flapping around, they've all settled in their usual spots on the roost or in the corner and seem quiet and content now.

    Are they afraid of the dark? Or could they be cold? The Silkies (which are the 5 week old ones) don't have all their feathers yet, but the rest do and all of them were freaking out, not just the Silkies. Should I have just left them? I was worried with the banging one of them would hurt themselves. They were spread out all over the place too, rather than being close together in one spot like they normally sleep. I have a white (non-heat) light on during the day, and the past few days have been switching that off and the heat lamp (which is red) on. Should I maybe turn the white light off, turn the heat light on, wait for them to be settled and then try turning the red one off? Is there possibly something else wrong and it's just coincidence it happened the night I turned the light off for the first time?
    Last edited: May 9, 2011
  2. Chick15

    Chick15 Songster

    Apr 21, 2011
    I am not sure, but This happens with my chicks too... if they are in the dark they seem to get all scared....
  3. TwoCrows

    TwoCrows Show me the way old friend Staff Member

    Mar 21, 2011
    New Mexico, USA
    My Coop
    It is possible that that are scared of the dark I remember when my Australorps were 5 weeks old, they were in the state of panic on the first night that I didn't use the heat lamp. They screeched bloody murder when it got dark! I felt so sorry for them.They banged around as you described, bumping into things, all terror stricken. I felt like a horrible mom.

    But on the second night it got a bit better and although they were still scared, the dark wasn't as scary to them. It took about 2 weeks to finally get used to the fact that the big red light is never coming on again! They are 9 weeks old today and are doing just fine, even perching on their roost all night.

    Your babies will grow out of it. [​IMG]

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