Help! My Chicks Are Afraid of the Dark!

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by For-The-Love-Of-Chickens, Apr 21, 2009.

  1. For-The-Love-Of-Chickens

    For-The-Love-Of-Chickens Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 8, 2009
    Washington State
    We have some chickens coming up on 11 weeks old, and we would like to not have the heat lamp on anymore. So, we are having a nice warm night and thought that tonight would be the night to try it. We let everyone in the coop, got everyone settled, and turned out the light. We did leave a little night light on. You could hear the terrified peeping outside the coop with all the doors closed!!! We went in to have two of the pullets immediately fly into the chicken wire trying to get to the light. We ended up turning on the heat lamp for them, even though the coop is pretty warm. Everyone settled right down on the roost and all is quiet.

    Is it too late to get them used to the dark, or will our chickens always need a light on? Will having the light on at night throw off day/night schedules? We do have a roo that hasn't started crowing yet.

  2. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

    Nov 9, 2007
    SW Arkansas
    They do tend to act like their little world is coming to an end the first few nights without a light.
    Leave a little night light on if you prefer, but it's really not necessary. They get over it in a few days. Just watch and make sure nobody is getting crushed in the pile up.
    IMO, it's best that they have periods of day and night, even if they don't think so at first.
  3. DarkWolf

    DarkWolf Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 11, 2008
    Murray Kentucky
    Makes me glad I've got mine inside... Actually, using their cage as a foot rest right now..

    At 5 weeks I turn off the lamp. It's plenty warm in here for them so I see no need. They're fine and dandy with it off.. Even the 1 week olds.
  4. Akane

    Akane Overrun With Chickens

    Jun 15, 2008
    You either have to adjust them to darkness or let them freak out for a few days. I first transition them down in bulbs. I'll put in a 100w, 60w, and then 40w red tinted bulb. Then start turning it off during the day for a couple days and finally leave it off. Do not turn the light off in the middle of the night after it gets dark or they will freak out. Even my adults will get all upset for awhile if it suddenly goes from light to completely dark.
  5. BarkerChickens

    BarkerChickens Microbrewing Chickenologist

    Nov 25, 2007
    High Desert, CA
    We just did the same here for our 4.5 weeks olds. We have been having record breaking heat (it's only April...this is going to be a miserable year for heat at this rate!). Our chicks weren't under the light at all, so we turned it out. About half tried to pile up in a cubby box they have in the brooder and one kept crying (the other half were content and made cooing sounds). Needless to say, the heat lamp is back on and they'll be sleeping extra warm tonight. Tomorrow I will leave the lamp off during the day and see how they react to the natural setting of the sun. If that doesn't work, I think I will be taking the recommendations above and listen to crying. :-( If you find a trick, PLEASE let me know!
  6. cmom

    cmom Hilltop Farm

    Nov 18, 2007
    My Coop
    I have an 11 watt red sign light bulb in the coop that I leave on all of the time. A couple of times the light burned out and they were all over the place but not in the coop. As soon as I put a new bulb in they were happy again. I fingure it cost me around $3.00 a month on my electric bill to run their light.
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2009
  7. For-The-Love-Of-Chickens

    For-The-Love-Of-Chickens Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 8, 2009
    Washington State
    Thanks for the responses! I think we will try switching them to a regular light bulb and move down the wattage scale. I would just turn it off and let them sort it out if they weren't flying around crashing into things! I would hate to go out in the morning to find a serious injury.
  8. chickorama

    chickorama Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 8, 2008
    They are only scared for the first couple days. They'll get over it.
  9. MissPrissy

    MissPrissy Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

    May 7, 2007
    Forks, Virginia
    Be strong. Turn off the light. In 2 or 3 days they will be glad of it. Like humans, lights at night keep them from going into that deep trance like sleep that really does them good. Don't fret. They will be fine in the dark.
  10. wxdude99

    wxdude99 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 26, 2008
    Montgomery Area
    Mine did the same thing. They wimpered like puppies when I turned the light out. It took about a week before they stopped doing this.

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