How to encourage 6-week-old chicks into coop at night

fasschicks

Chirping
6 Years
Sep 10, 2013
191
11
83
South Central Wisconsin
We have a separate "brooder" coop (see picture) for our 18 chicks. They are 6 weeks old now and for the first time, we let them outside under their coop. Our brooder coop is designed just like the "Witchita Coop" except for the chicks, the ramp to the sand run area below the coop is through the floor. They don't have any issues going in/out of the coop to their sectioned-off run below their brooder coop. The issue we had was that when they were supposed to come in last night to roost, they all went down below instead. We think it was because it was lighter down there than in the coop and they gravitated towards the light. So, at 8:30 last night, every chick was down below taking in every last minute of daylight we had. They have 3 large windows in the coop, but it tends to get dark in there as they don't directly face the west.

I took this picture yesterday because I thought it was cute. I had the big girls out sunning and you can see about 6 chicks in the left corner of the "brooder" coop sunning themselves also. So, they have an upstairs and a downstairs area in their brooder coop. They only need to walk up a small ramp through the floor.



What my husband and I did to encourage them to come in is shining a light inside the coop and they all came up....eventually. I want this to become habit to them so they come in at or just before dark. I don't want to have them sleeping downstairs in the sand run at night. A good share of the chicks roost at night and the others lay on the floor in a pile. I thought that maybe putting a night light (similar to picture below) would encourage them to "come to the light" so to speak. Thus teaching them to come in at night. I just don't want them to get in the habit of needing that light to encourage them to come in.


Any thoughts or suggestions?

Wendy
 

fasschicks

Chirping
6 Years
Sep 10, 2013
191
11
83
South Central Wisconsin
Thanks, Rowsdower! My only hiccup in this is my husband and I are doing a long weekend away for Memorial Day. Our neighbor, who has been raising chicken for many years, is watching over the flock. I just didn't want them to have to coax them in while we are gone. Some of the nights when we are gone are getting into low 50's at night. The chicks don't use the heat plate any more (except on cold nights). I think they are pretty hardened off now, but don't want them spending the night under the coop. They are totally secure under there, though.

I guess if worse comes to worse and they don't figure it out by Friday, they get confined to the upper part of coop for 4 days until we get home. That is what they have had up until yesterday.
 

Rowsdower

Songster
7 Years
May 27, 2012
771
55
131
If they are completely secure under there, I wouldn't worry. They will go inside if they get cold.
 

fasschicks

Chirping
6 Years
Sep 10, 2013
191
11
83
South Central Wisconsin
Sounds good. First time chick owner. We raised them outside since they were 2-3 days old. All they had was a heating plate and they all have done great. Our neighbor who has raised chicks before (with heat lamp) is constantly surprised that we haven't lost any. I will try to get them in tonight and tomorrow night since the lows will be 39, but after that, it is supposed to warm up and will see if they do fine. All your help is much appreciated.
 

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