Confused chickens about the dark


8 Years
Nov 4, 2011
My chickens seem to be confused about going to be at night now that the evening gets darker sooner. They used to get in their coop about 900 at night, but now that it is dark at 600 PM, they just huddle on the ground in front of their door to their coop. They don't seem to know where they are. Now that it is cold outside, I am worried about them getting cold, so I put a 250 watt red light in their coop and it also freaks them out and they won't go in. What am I missing. This is my first year with chickens and I am worried about my girls.


10 Years
Nov 2, 2009
North Texas
you may need to shut them in the coop for a week or so, and allow them to adjust to the changing light. They will eventually learn to go back into the coop sooner, but they may need a little help till then.

Also, I do not think chickens see in red light quite as well as white light. It may help to switch to a white bulb for a while to help them navigate their coop easier in the changing darkness.


9 Years
Dec 1, 2010
Correze, France
I've a similar problem with a mother hen. All the others go back to their coops once dusk arrives but the last four nights she's taken to sitting down on the lawn with all 11 chicks underneath. As they're coming up to 5-weeks-old, the effect is quite comical. But it isn't quite so amusing having to escort her and her family into the "juvi" coop when it's p**ing down like it has the last two evenings. Wednesday and Thursday evening I had her in one hand and a cat-box full of hysterical chicks in the other! Friday and last night I shooed her in the required direction and the chicks followed her. Roll on tonight...

Linn Bee

8 Years
Oct 30, 2011
South-est, central-est WI
I feel like a total newbie where chickens are concerned even though I raised them for a few years 25 years ago. That time I didn't read a thing about them, did what seemed right, and must have had beginners luck for all were healthy.

This time I've read up on raising chickens -- starting months before I even ordered them -- and I seem to be second guessing myself as to what to do. Love this site!

Right or wrong, here's what I've done with my coop. I use lights on a timer to keep with summery hours so the coop is lit after the sun sets. I have another light - a red one - that comes on for about 1/4 hour before and after the regular light goes off. That way the flock isn't in total darkness at roosting time.

Aside: The grand-babies closed the coop AND the play yard today. No one could get in to lay and when I went out to tuck them in and lock the door after dark, they were all patiently? standing outside in front of their glass door staring in at the warm, lighted coop in total dismay. I think I detected a 'tisk, tisk' of disgust at my carelessness as they sidled past in to bed.

Love, Linn B (aka Smart Red) in south-est, central-est Wisconsin

rancher hicks

11 Years
Feb 28, 2009
Syracuse, NY
Chickens don't see well in the dark I could go into the details of their eyes' but I won't. I suggest you lead them in at dusk for a while. Keep some food inside for a few days so they have to go in to eat. They'll catch on. I put a white light inside the coop and turn it off at 9:00pm.

I close all doors at night so I can check to make sure they are all in. I have runs for them and that is where the food is. Not far from the pop hole door.

I wish you the best,



9 Years
Dec 1, 2010
Correze, France
The other mother hen (mixed brood of two-to-four d.o. Coq de Peche and Light Sussex) has been in a coop since the first chick hatched. The weather's been foul, gales with downpours so she isn't missing much. She has an IR lamp at night but nothing during the day apart from the meshed window being open.
None of the other coops have any form of lighting or heating - yet. Some heat source might well be needed this year as the locals are predicting the end of days snow-wise.


12 Years
May 8, 2007
Lyougrn, did they stop going in the coup before or after you added the light? As long as they're not little chicks anymore, they don't need added heat. Chickens adapt very well to the cold. You could just take the light out and let them go back to their old lifestyle.

Mine go in at dusk, whenever that is, regardless of what the clock says. If yours are having issues going in to roost, just offer a little snack or treat in the coop when it's time to go to roost.


Crossing the Road
11 Years
Sep 19, 2009
Holts Summit, Missouri
Light levels in coop / roost may be dropping too fast relative to outside stimulis of low light levels to go to roost. Try providing low level supplemental light at dusk or open it up so more natural light goes in at time birds are going to roost.

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