Chicks scared to sleep in their coop?

smott

Songster
Apr 15, 2020
181
164
128
Ok, this new chick momma needs some comforting, so I apologize for the long post! I have 14 chicks that range from 5-7 weeks old. We live in Louisiana, and the weather is currently in 80's for daytime highs, upper 60's - low 70's at night. They have been spending increasing amounts of time outside in their run during the day for a few weeks now and they have had access to their coop, which they have been freely going in and out of during the day to sprawl out and rest. I had been bringing them back inside to their brooder area each night. I decided it was time for them to go into the coop full-time this weekend, and they are not liking it at all! I thought because they had a chance to get familiar with everything that the transition might be fairly smooth, but when it starts getting close to dark they huddle up in the run and start chirping loudly (even if they have been in the coop half of the day). First two evenings, I put each chick in the coop and closed the door as they scrambled and tried to get back out, then listened to them cry pitifully. Might even have shed a few tears myself. Tonight, I went inside and left them chirping in the run right before dark, and within just a few minutes they actually went into the coop themselves, so progress! However, they are piling themselves into a pile in about a 1 foot square area in a corner right next to the door of the coop (in their brooder, they were sleeping sprawled out in small piles, or many of them roosting.) It's warm enough that I don't think they are huddling for warmth. I have put a nightlight in there for them, because even in the brooder, they panicked each time I tried to put them in the dark. When I peek in the window, most of them don't appear to be comfortable or sleeping and are restless. Is this safe (I don't see how they aren't smothering one another)... Is this normal, and how long can I expect before it gets better? I feel so bad for them!
 

Dephora

Songster
Apr 30, 2020
279
321
141
Southern Oregon
They will get used to it and are in no danger. Mine do that too if they see me. It makes transitioning to sleeping in the coop a lot easier for them if they don't see you. I know it makes you anxious but I would stop checking on them so much, right now they know you are the lady that takes them to place they are comfortable sleeping in, so every time they see you, they feel their is a chance to go back to the place they are used too.

They will get used to it but it take time. Usually a week. I give them a light for the first night they are in there, but then take it away. They don't need it, I just use it to draw them into the coop for the first night.
 

rosemarythyme

Scarborough Fair
6 Years
Jul 3, 2016
20,527
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WA, Pac NW
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My Coop
Because spending the night out is new to them, they're huddling to comfort one another. The night light might make you feel better, but honestly they don't need it ;) (other than maybe to help them find their way into the coop at dusk if there's not enough natural light inside). Let them cry, let them fuss, but they'll eventually quiet down and go to sleep.
 

Jazzychilli

Chirping
May 24, 2020
17
28
59
I felt the same way when I first had my chicks sleep
In the coup at night
I gave them a little meal worms ( prob shouldn’t have ?) but it seemed to help them transition to it and now they are fine and go in at night😊easily now with no crying -which I thought was awful too and I teared up as well !
You’ll have to let us know how they do....I also found that if they see me check the coup they feel better there was a mouse in the yard so at one point I thought maybe one was in their coup but didn’t find one and they haven’t fussed since so prob was just the transition ?...
 

K0k0shka

Free Ranging
Premium Feather Member
Jul 24, 2019
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Boston Area, MA
My Coop
My Coop
When I moved my chicks to the coop, I moved them along with the brooder and left the brooder in the coop. The brooder had a front access door (not a bin that opens on top) so I just took the door off. The brooder still had their heating plate in there, too (they were 3 weeks old). Didn’t have any transitional problems whatsoever. They weren’t familiar with the coop like yours are, but they had their safe space - the brooder - right there for comfort and to sleep in. No pitiful crying or problems at all. They are 5 weeks old now, love their coop and run, but still sleep in the brooder, under their (now modified and raised) heating plate (it still gets cold here at night). They nap on roosts during the day and only sleep in the brooder at night.

I recommend this kind of transition highly! Better for everybody. If you have the room, bring them their safe space, until they get used to their new life.
 

smott

Songster
Apr 15, 2020
181
164
128
When I moved my chicks to the coop, I moved them along with the brooder and left the brooder in the coop. The brooder had a front access door (not a bin that opens on top) so I just took the door off. The brooder still had their heating plate in there, too (they were 3 weeks old). Didn’t have any transitional problems whatsoever. They weren’t familiar with the coop like yours are, but they had their safe space - the brooder - right there for comfort and to sleep in. No pitiful crying or problems at all. They are 5 weeks old now, love their coop and run, but still sleep in the brooder, under their (now modified and raised) heating plate (it still gets cold here at night). They nap on roosts during the day and only sleep in the brooder at night.

I recommend this kind of transition highly! Better for everybody. If you have the room, bring them their safe space, until they get used to their new life.
I can see where this would help! I actually considered trying it but unfortunately my brooder was kind of a “makeshift” combination of a wire pen, plastic, and cardboard that couldn’t really be moved lol. I did move some of their familiar items from the brooder into the coop such as feeder, waterer, roosts, toys, etc.
 

smott

Songster
Apr 15, 2020
181
164
128
So I’m wondering if I should try to place them on the roosts at night or continue allowing them to pile up until they decide to try the roosts themselves??
 

NewBoots

Free Ranging
Nov 30, 2018
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Lakeside, OR
So I’m wondering if I should try to place them on the roosts at night or continue allowing them to pile up until they decide to try the roosts themselves??
I'd let them find their own way, mine still don't roost at night but huddle on the ground and the oldest are about 7 weeks.
 

rosemarythyme

Scarborough Fair
6 Years
Jul 3, 2016
20,527
43,005
1,142
WA, Pac NW
My Coop
My Coop
So I’m wondering if I should try to place them on the roosts at night or continue allowing them to pile up until they decide to try the roosts themselves??

That's up to you. I personally want them roosting ASAP, so I'd put them on roosts. Others prefer to let the chicks decide when they're ready, so they let them figure it out for themselves. Really no right answer.
 

loohoo

Songster
May 9, 2020
142
112
136
Southern Ohio, US
I could have written this myself, honestly! Right down to huddling in a pile by the door, and me feeling like I'm being mean! 😄
Ours don't really go inside during the day much that I've seen.
At dusk, I've been putting a battery powered LED (illuminates pretty much the whole coop inside) magnetic light in there and as it gets dark outside, they head in on their own. (Thanks BYC forum for that tip, chasing them around each evening trying to round them up wasn't my idea of fun!) After they're in, I've been picking them up, setting them on their roost, and then taking out the light and closing the door. The first night, all but 3 jumped off the roost, second night, all but one stayed up there! They still chirp and aren't happy when I take out their light but they do eventually settle down, and I feel better that they're up on their roost.
Last night we were late getting home, it was pretty dark out, and they were all perched on the lip of the door to the coop, piled on top of each other- like they were too scared to go all the way into the dark, scary coop but knew thats where they go at night. 🙄 So I've probably created an issue there, as I eventually want to ditch the battery light lol.
Ours are about 5.5 weeks old.
 

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