Flock sleeping habits

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Lewisusa1, Dec 12, 2009.

  1. Lewisusa1

    Lewisusa1 New Egg

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    May 3, 2009
    Hello everyone, I have a couple of questions about managing my flock, and a specific one about their sleeping habits. I have 4 buffs and 2 R.I. Reds. I am getting 4 to 6 eggs a day (mostly 6) and have put a red heat lamp in the hen house that comes on at dusk and stays on all night now that it is winter. Do chickens need darkness to sleep? Do they prefer darkness at night? I have noticed that some of them are sitting on the landing of the hen house, sort of half in and half out of the doorway. Is there a rule of thumb as to how cold it needs to be outside before needing a heat lamp? I don't know if it's too warm in the hen house (it's not noticeably warm) or if they are hanging out on the porch for the darkness.
    I am feeding them layer crumbles and table scraps and have had no problems with soft shells, just the opposite. Their shells are quite hard and thick. They get scratch once a day, now that it's cold. And lots of dried bread, pumpkins (from halloween from a neighbor), and have been cooking them oatmeal lately as we have had an unnatural cold snap for the last week. (18 degrees at night and low 30's for a high). I occasionally give them grit, but am wondering if they need it constantly (is oyster shell for the same purpose, or is it for the shells). The run has a dirt floor so I suppose they get grit from there, but I am not opposed to providing it either.
    My girls have always headed for the barn, so to speak, at dusk but lately (above mentioned cold snap) I have been hanging a trouble light by their water to keep it from freezing (not working too well)' and have noticed that now they don't head in at dusk. They will hang out in the run as long as the light is on (except for one of the Reds, which obviously has more sense then the others to get in out of the cold) and I have been going out and turning it off so they will head into the hen house.
    I am sorry for so many questions. My girls are about 7 months old, and have been laying for about 2 months.
    thanks for all the help.
    Sincerely,

    Chris
    Washington

    P.S. All of my girls are very tame, as we held them every day when they were chicks, and love to picked up and cuddled. All that is except the R.I. Reds, you can pick them up but they don't like to cuddle and if you pick them up without holding the wings they flap away. The reds are named Cinnamon and Cocoa, and the buffs are named Abby, Cleo (very regal), McNugget (daughters pick), and Matilda (the baby of the group) who lays little baby eggs.
     
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    Welcome to the forum. Glad you are here. I'll try a few of your questions.

    Do chickens need darkness to sleep? Do they prefer darkness at night?

    I have not psychoanalyzed a chicken lately so I can't speak to their mental health concerning constant light, but constant light can cause egg quality problems, according to the Egg Quality Handbook. I'd assume if it causes physical problems with the eggs, it could cause mental problems.

    Egg Quality Handbook
    http://www.thepoultrysite.com/ourbooks/1/egg-quality-handbook/

    Is there a rule of thumb as to how cold it needs to be outside before needing a heat lamp?

    Patandchickens is as close as you get on this forum to an accepted authority on this topic. Considering how varied the people on this forum are, that is intended as high praise. I suggest you read her Ventilation and Winter Coop Temperature pages. It is actually a pretty complicated question.

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/web/viewblog.php?id=1642-VENTILATION

    PatÂ’s Winter Coop Temperatures
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/web/viewblog.php?id=1642-winter-coop-temperatures

    I occasionally give them grit, but am wondering if they need it constantly (is oyster shell for the same purpose, or is it for the shells). The run has a dirt floor so I suppose they get grit from there, but I am not opposed to providing it either.

    Grit is hard rocks and sand that helps them grind up the food in their gizzards. Oyster Shell is provided to give them extra calcium to make their egg shells hard. They are not the same thing. The layer crumbles has added calcium. Usually that is enough to provide all the calcium they need, but sometimes extra is needed. Let your egg shells be your guide. If they are hard, they are getting enough. Grit is a little more difficult to judge. If your chickens are allowed access to ground that has pea sized gravel and smaller in it, they can get enough grit. Even just sand will work. But the grit is ground up in the gizzard and eventually passes as fine sand through their system. If there is a limited amount of material to use as grit in the area they are allowed to search for it, they will eventually use it up. If your chickens are confines to a relatively small area, I think providing a little extra grit is a good idea. I get small gravel from my gravel road and throw it in their run, even though they have access to a pretty good sized run on rocky soil.

    I have been hanging a trouble light by their water to keep it from freezing (not working too well)

    This can sure be a challenge. They don't need water at night but they do need water during the day. I personally use a black rubber bowl (I got it at Tractor Supply) that I can turn over and stomp the ice out before I refill it. But I am home during the day and can do this a few times. As I have it outside, the sun actually warms the black bowl quite a bit and really helps keep the water thawed. I know that will not work for everyone. You can buy heated dog bowls and there are several other threads on heating waterers. You might try using the search feature in the blue area above for more help.

    Good luck and again, glad you are here.[​IMG]
     

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