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Chickens & Heat Lamps

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by newhenintown, Nov 26, 2016.

  1. newhenintown

    newhenintown In the Brooder

    Nov 22, 2016
    Hayden, Al
    I have 12 chickens, 6 EEs and 6 cochins. EEs are 9 weeks and cochins are 13 weeks. All of the cochins came from my mothers flock. 2 of them i received when they were 4 weeks but the other 4 I just recently acquired. I've noticed the new 4 huddled together in the run at night instead of going in to roost. I don't have a heat lamp in my coop because I know they don't need it but my mother however does have a heat lamp in hers and turns it on every semi cold night. I decided to put a heat lamp out there to see what would happen and sure enough as soon as I turn it on the 4 go inside. I should add that I have a security light on top of my hill, it doesn't shine into my run but it does shadow it just enough so I can see if anything is heading towards my chickens. Are they trying to sleep in the run because of the little glimmer of light and they think its the heat lamp they're so used to or are they use to the heat so they wont go in without it? I do know that they all have adequate space in the coop and that its not my other chickens because I think these 4 have already made themselves pretty high in the pecking order just by behavior. How do I get these chickens inside without a lamp?

  2. Yes, they are used to the heat lamp......

  3. Hi.

    Do you have a door on your coop to close after they go in? Call them in with their favorite treat and close the door. You have to train them to go in at dusk. If they don't, pick them up and put them in every evening and before long they will get the point.

    What temp are you talking when you say cold nights? I would avoid the heat lamp. They will adjust fairly fast. And at their age should be well feathered. They may not roost at first but that is normal. All of my young initially huddle on the ground. Before long they move to roost.
  4. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Crowing

    Oct 16, 2010
    NEK, VT
    It shouldn't take very long and they'll start to equate the coop to home. Could be a day or two and could take up to a week. They will adopt the new coop and roost on their own without a light in there. I'm not a fan of heat lamps, you're not either, so would take it out. Manually put the birds in the coop until they adjust.

    Birds are finicky like that. Recently moved my coop to winter run. The birds were not happy about it and had to walk four escapes back in to run over the afternoon. Evening looked around and didn't see any out of coop so locked it up. Sure enough, three had escaped again pre dark and were in hiding. One was taken by racoon and two others came running as soon as the coop was opened and morning crowing started. They all went in to coop the next night, probably due to the racoon attack night before. Same coop only moved to new run and it disrupted their world.
  5. newhenintown

    newhenintown In the Brooder

    Nov 22, 2016
    Hayden, Al
    What kills me is that they will hang out in their during the day and they even go in with the others at night but as soon as it gets really dark just those 4 will move back to the run to sleep because there some light there were there isn't in the coop. Im just gonna leave the lamp off and if they're cold they'll come in and if not so be it. Cochins are very cold hardy anyway. Im in Alabama and our coldest night so far was 28° but usually 35°-50° and 60°-70° during the day. Very warm for some reason this year. Also is it normal for young chickens of this age to go out and eat during the night, like 2-3am? This is my first flock by the way.
  6. No, eating in the middle of the night is only done by chicks who have been raised on heat lamps. Once the light is removed they won't be up moving around. Chickens can't see well in the dark.
  7. newhenintown

    newhenintown In the Brooder

    Nov 22, 2016
    Hayden, Al

    Well that would explain why its only my 4 newest chickens I see up at that hour eating. All the others I have raised from 2 weeks and 4 weeks and they sleep in the coop and they don't late night snack. May be why my mother goes through so much feed lol. And at 2-3 months fully feathered they should be good with no heat lamp at those temps right?

  8. Yep, shouldn't need the lamp at all. They may initially make a fuss but quickly adjust to routine. Chickens are creatures of habit.

    Definitely midnight munchers raise the feed bill.

    Maybe turn your mom onto Mama Heating Pad for future adventures...

    She don't have to read the whole thread to get the basic ideal and could just ask questions on the last page. [​IMG]
  9. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Definitely lose the light, they'll get used to it being gone.
    Make sure they have plenty of room in the coop.....and plenty of roost length.
    I have separate roosts for newly integrated birds...and multiple feed/water stations.
  10. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    You’re not alone on the weather. My first frost and first freeze were both about a month later than normal. We set a couple of heat records earlier this month. Some years winter is early, some years it’s late. This is just one of those years.

    I certainly agree with the others, at that age with those temperatures where you are they do not need a heat lamp to stay warm. A lot of this probably has to do with your security light, it is providing enough light they can see out there at night. They are creatures of habit and you have disrupted their habits by moving them. They are busy setting up new habits.

    Looking at those ages, I think something else may be working here. My brooder raised chicks normally start to roost at around 10 to 12 weeks of age. I’ve had some start as early as 5 weeks, some take a lot longer, but 10 to 12 weeks is a good average. Until they start roosting they sleep in group somewhere low down. In my coops on the ground that’s normally in the coop. With my elevated grow-out coop they tend to sleep in a group in the run under the door if I’ve kept them locked in the coop portion for a few days. If I haven’t locked them in the coop section for a few days it can be anywhere, but it will be in the run. They like to sleep down low until they are ready to roost. They sleep in a group, not because they are cold but because they like the company.

    Which ones of yours are roosting? Just the two other Cochin or all of the others? I think part of it may be that these four just haven’t started roosting yet. If the roosts in your coop are the only roosts, your problem may be solved when that roosting instinct kicks in. When that will be, who knows. Each of my broods are different and learn that at different ages, even though they all have practice roosts in the brooder and roosts are always available.

    I’ve seen that pecking order behaviors are magnified on the roosts. I understand these new chickens get along fine with all the others and have moved toward the top of the pecking order, especially over the 9-week-old EE’s, but I’ve seen bullies go out of their way to brutalize other chickens on the roosts as they are settling down for the night. I suggested this in a recent thread but the OP didn’t believe it, they get along so well during the day. But a couple of days later they came back and said that was what was happening. The solution is not a certain number of inches per bird on the roosts but having roosts set up where the birds can get away from a bully. Aart’s not the only one that has a separate
    “juvenile” roost set up to aid integration.

    I think with all this I think what is really going on is that they haven’t learned to roost yet. I’ll mention all this other stuff because you are looking at them and I’m not. It can get complicated. Regardless of the reason they are doing this, I think the solution is to lock them in the coop at night until they start going in on their own. I’ve had some with my elevated grow-out coop get the message after the first time, I’ve had some individuals take three weeks to get the message. Patience may be required.

    In addition, look at your roost space. I really don’t think this is the problem but it sounds like you are someone that will be integrating in the future. You say you have plenty of coop space. A separate roost, a little lower than the main roost but higher than the nests and separated horizontally from the main roosts may come in handy, if not now, then later.

    Good luck!
    1 person likes this.

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