New coop nighttime light

Apr 28, 2021
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Arkansas
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Hey y’all I’m sure this is a really dumb question.

Tonight we locked our chickens into their new coop. They typically free range and have been in their brooder for well way too long for how many we had. They are roughly 10-11 weeks old and they now have a roost and whole new digs.

I felt like they were pretty panicked when we locked them up in there tonight so I just strung up some dim solar string lights around the full inside and I feel like it helped them calm down being able to see and the few that flew off the roosts were able to make their way back up there.

Is it problematic to keep it on for them for the next few days? Or even just tonight? I don’t want them grumpy or stressed out.
 

K0k0shka

Free Ranging
Premium Feather Member
Jul 24, 2019
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Boston Area, MA
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Chickens don't need night lights. Was this their first time in that coop? What time of day was it when you put/locked them in there? Not a good idea to put chickens in a new space at or near bedtime. They freak out because of the change, and they double freak out because they can't see well and feel extra vulnerable being blind in a new space. With new coops and new chicks, it's best to put them in the coop during the day, and keep them locked in there for about a week, without access to the outside. Ideally, the coop should be big enough to accommodate that. The point of that is for the chicks to get familiar with the space during the day when they can see well, and, by living in it for an extended period of time, they get "homed" to it and start viewing it as *their* space, their safe haven, something they'd want to return to for bed. Then when you start letting them out, the outside is the new unfamiliar space, so they'd want to go back to the coop for safety and to sleep. This makes it easier to train them to go inside for the night.

Now, yours are older than the age when this usually happens though, bigger, and have already spent time free ranging, so in your situation, locking them in the coop might freak them out more than it would help. They'll still need time to get to know it and get used to it though - time during the day, when they can see. So, don't let them out until late morning. They'll have the morning to familiarize themselves with the space (leave food and water in there). Then let them out so they don't get too antsy in there. And start training them to go inside well before their usual bedtime. You can do this by physically placing each one in through the pop door (not through the human access door, even if that's easier for you - they need to know the way to go in by themselves), or you can go inside and call them in through the pop door (if they respond to being called), or you can use treats to lure them in, etc. So, start that process let's say an hour before their usual bedtime, and lock them in. They'll have some time in there to find a place to sleep before it gets too dark. But let them go to sleep with the sunset. Chickens don't need night lights. They get settled and then sleep all night - they don't get up to pee or check the fridge for a snack like humans do ;) So they don't need to be able to see. As long as they can see to get up to the roost, they'll be fine. Whatever you do, they may protest because this is new to them. Don't get discouraged, and have patience. They'll figure it out. Good luck!
 

Peppercorngal

Crowing
Feb 5, 2018
2,664
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401
Feather Falls, CA
No, you are doing the right thing. You can leave a night light in the coop always. Chickens do not have night vision and can't see in the dark. Try this: Leave your light on for a week and then turn it off. Most likely they will NOT go in the coop. They can't see! This happened to me and I put two little square night lights in each coop. They always go in now. Because of bears my coop has no windows so it's very dark.
 
Apr 28, 2021
540
1,385
226
Arkansas
My Coop
My Coop
Chickens don't need night lights. Was this their first time in that coop? What time of day was it when you put/locked them in there? Not a good idea to put chickens in a new space at or near bedtime. They freak out because of the change, and they double freak out because they can't see well and feel extra vulnerable being blind in a new space. With new coops and new chicks, it's best to put them in the coop during the day, and keep them locked in there for about a week, without access to the outside. Ideally, the coop should be big enough to accommodate that. The point of that is for the chicks to get familiar with the space during the day when they can see well, and, by living in it for an extended period of time, they get "homed" to it and start viewing it as *their* space, their safe haven, something they'd want to return to for bed. Then when you start letting them out, the outside is the new unfamiliar space, so they'd want to go back to the coop for safety and to sleep. This makes it easier to train them to go inside for the night.

Now, yours are older than the age when this usually happens though, bigger, and have already spent time free ranging, so in your situation, locking them in the coop might freak them out more than it would help. They'll still need time to get to know it and get used to it though - time during the day, when they can see. So, don't let them out until late morning. They'll have the morning to familiarize themselves with the space (leave food and water in there). Then let them out so they don't get too antsy in there. And start training them to go inside well before their usual bedtime. You can do this by physically placing each one in through the pop door (not through the human access door, even if that's easier for you - they need to know the way to go in by themselves), or you can go inside and call them in through the pop door (if they respond to being called), or you can use treats to lure them in, etc. So, start that process let's say an hour before their usual bedtime, and lock them in. They'll have some time in there to find a place to sleep before it gets too dark. But let them go to sleep with the sunset. Chickens don't need night lights. They get settled and then sleep all night - they don't get up to pee or check the fridge for a snack like humans do ;) So they don't need to be able to see. As long as they can see to get up to the roost, they'll be fine. Whatever you do, they may protest because this is new to them. Don't get discouraged, and have patience. They'll figure it out. Good luck!
We tried to get them to go into the coop by placing food and water in there and they did but then they decided they no longer wanted to be in there.
They somewhat come when called but not really and usually only when the feed or water is empty.
The easiest way to have caught them all was right at bedtime when they tried to get into the brooder (which we shut the door so they couldn’t) then moved them one at a time to the coop.
I was thinking it would stress them out being locked up for a week since they have been free ranging for quite some time.
We are going on vacation tho without assistance on the homestead and my MIL suggested we lock them up in the coop for the week we are gone.
Won’t that be more stressful??

I agree on the getting them to go through the pop door my plan was to open it in the morning and that be the way they find their way outside from the door but my husband disagreed so we haven’t installed it yet and it’s still sitting in the box. :he
 

bill3607

Crossing the Road
Aug 24, 2020
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Alabama
I have read it was bad to leave a light on more than around 14 hours a day. However, I keep one on all the time and so far no problems. Actually, they will not go in unless there is a light on in there.
I guess the best case would be a light that turned off after they got in and on the roost either by someone manually, or even better automatically. But, like I said mine do fine with it and are very happy, very healthy and very good layers.
 

K0k0shka

Free Ranging
Premium Feather Member
Jul 24, 2019
4,037
11,145
547
Boston Area, MA
My Coop
My Coop
We tried to get them to go into the coop by placing food and water in there and they did but then they decided they no longer wanted to be in there.
They somewhat come when called but not really and usually only when the feed or water is empty.
The easiest way to have caught them all was right at bedtime when they tried to get into the brooder (which we shut the door so they couldn’t) then moved them one at a time to the coop.
I was thinking it would stress them out being locked up for a week since they have been free ranging for quite some time.
We are going on vacation tho without assistance on the homestead and my MIL suggested we lock them up in the coop for the week we are gone.
Won’t that be more stressful??

I agree on the getting them to go through the pop door my plan was to open it in the morning and that be the way they find their way outside from the door but my husband disagreed so we haven’t installed it yet and it’s still sitting in the box. :he
I'm confused... What's still in a box? So the coop currently doesn't have a pop door? Or is it an automatic door that's still in the box? Is there a way for them to go in and out of the coop, and a way for you to shut it at night so it's safe? Even if the final/finished/auto door isn't installed yet, if the opening is in the same place and they can use it, that's enough.

It's normal for the chickens to not want to be in there. It's new to them. That's the point of locking them in for a week, to sorta force them to love it :lol: Having free-ranged until now certainly complicates things. When are you going on vacation? If there will be no help available, or not enough help to babysit a more gradual transition, then locking them in the coop for the duration of your vacation seems like the most practical approach. Especially if the alternative is that they stay locked in a brooder that's too small (I'm assuming those are the only options?) If the coop is safe from predators, and has enough ventilation, and if they'll have enough food and water, then I think they'll be fine. Not happy, but happy is a high bar right now. Aim for safe first, they'll get to happy in due time.

What I did with my first batch of chicks to get them better accustomed to the coop is I moved their brooder into the coop, and took the brooder door off (it opened on the side, not on top). They still had a familiar, safe space to retreat to, which made their transition super smooth. They explored the coop, and went back into the brooder if they needed reassurance. They also slept in it at night for a while until they got used to the roosts. How big is your coop? And how many chickens do you have? This might make your process easier.
 
Apr 28, 2021
540
1,385
226
Arkansas
My Coop
My Coop
I'm confused... What's still in a box? So the coop currently doesn't have a pop door? Or is it an automatic door that's still in the box? Is there a way for them to go in and out of the coop, and a way for you to shut it at night so it's safe? Even if the final/finished/auto door isn't installed yet, if the opening is in the same place and they can use it, that's enough.

It's normal for the chickens to not want to be in there. It's new to them. That's the point of locking them in for a week, to sorta force them to love it :lol: Having free-ranged until now certainly complicates things. When are you going on vacation? If there will be no help available, or not enough help to babysit a more gradual transition, then locking them in the coop for the duration of your vacation seems like the most practical approach. Especially if the alternative is that they stay locked in a brooder that's too small (I'm assuming those are the only options?) If the coop is safe from predators, and has enough ventilation, and if they'll have enough food and water, then I think they'll be fine. Not happy, but happy is a high bar right now. Aim for safe first, they'll get to happy in due time.

What I did with my first batch of chicks to get them better accustomed to the coop is I moved their brooder into the coop, and took the brooder door off (it opened on the side, not on top). They still had a familiar, safe space to retreat to, which made their transition super smooth. They explored the coop, and went back into the brooder if they needed reassurance. They also slept in it at night for a while until they got used to the roosts. How big is your coop? And how many chickens do you have? This might make your process easier.
We only have a human door and the automatic door is still in the box waiting to be installed (after cutting a section out for it).

It’s completely predator proof.
Tons of ventilation all around the roof, in every wall and on all the floors (mirrored like the roof). Just the roof alone provides 34sqft of ventilation, the floor is another 34sqft and then the windows all around and arch of the ceiling also has screening.
We have 10 - 10weeks and 9 - 4weeks
It’s a 12x6 coop.
We currently added the new chicks (4 weeks old) into a new brooder (with mesh walls) in the coop so we can’t fit 2 brooders in there.
The option for vacation was to train them to the coop/coop door and then let them free range like normal.
We have a neighbor that said they would come check in on them but probably not daily.
I just gave them more hope then most people might 🤷🏼‍♀️ I’m thinking we will have to coop them for the week we are gone and just hope things go okay.
 

bill3607

Crossing the Road
Aug 24, 2020
4,793
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Alabama
At about 4 weeks of age I put mine in the coop but used some wire to section off an end of the coop that made up about 1/4 of the space of the entire coop. This a fairly large walk in coop. The wire I used to corral them in was 3 feet high. Once they got so that they could fly up over the wire (about 6 weeks old) I took it down and gave them the whole coop. They would actually fly up and land on my hand or arm over the wire. Then, after about another 2 weeks I opened the pop door and encouraged, or even placed, them out in the run. So, I guess they were able to get used to it fairly easy that way.
I always had a light on in the coop while they were small and I guess they got comfortable with that. Had some issues with some being out and some being in after the pop door auto closed and sometimes even all of them still outside. It was all about lights. If they did not have a light on inside the coop a lot of times they would stay out. I also had a light that would come on in the run at night because I thought it was good for security. So, I noticed if it was on some of them would not go in and it was even worse if the light was off in the coop and the light was on out in the run. Once I figured that out I just left the coop light on and set the pop door to close a good 30 minutes after dark and it did not matter if the run light was on or not they all made it in the coop and on roost every night.
The biggest thing is just time and patience with them, and sometimes a little instruction. They will usually get it. If not then you just have to figure out what little thing, or things, is causing the problem.
 

FredHill

Songster
Premium Feather Member
Apr 23, 2022
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278
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Central Coastal Florida, USA
I've read, (and yes it's gotten me in trouble before!) that a very dim night light, like a Christmas bulb that just allows the chickens to make out shadows at night they will be more secure. It seems opinion is a little mixed on here? I also read the alpha roo sleeps with one eye open always on his flock. Myth? Thanks!
 

rosemarythyme

Scarborough Fair
6 Years
Jul 3, 2016
20,551
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WA, Pac NW
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I've read, (and yes it's gotten me in trouble before!) that a very dim night light, like a Christmas bulb that just allows the chickens to make out shadows at night they will be more secure. It seems opinion is a little mixed on here?
Mixed opinions are common on here. :)

I believe in as close to darkness as possible at night, so the birds get restful sleep and so do I. We have no exterior lights on after dark, except to let the dogs out.
 

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