OK you experts, help me out with the 8-week old pile-up

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by thepone, Jun 5, 2008.

  1. thepone

    thepone In the Brooder

    Apr 15, 2008
    Dolores, Colorado
    I have 12 8-week olds, 8 are golden comets and 4 are aracaunas. They're awesome; healthy, happy, somewhat stupid but otherwise very cool birds. They have a big run, are allowed to free-range when I'm around (baby steps) and a lovely coop with a big 4x6 picture window and two sliding double-paned windows that open. They have 'learner' perches and big girl perches and three nesting boxes for future egg bonanzas.

    The issue?

    These insane birds, when the sun sets, go into the coop like good little ladies and ALL 12 pile into one nesting box. They're stacked 3 tall and deep in that thing - it's so bizarre! I could see if it was desperately cold out but the coldest it's been lately at sundown is in the 50s.

    My question would be: should I block off the nesting boxes to force them back to perch-land (they had been perching before). The last thing I want is for them to all pile onto some eggs in the future and make a big mess of it all. Besides, it just doesn't seem normal or healthy for them to be stacked like that for who knows how long every night. Not that I claim to know what NORMAL is in a little chicken brain.

    Any suggestions would be appreciated.
  2. Guitartists

    Guitartists Resistance is futile

    Mar 21, 2008
    I have a shoe box with a doorway cut into it in the cool side of my brooder, and they like to get in there and snuggle. Maybe if you provide a larger cover of some kind they can still all snuggle together without piling on top of one another.
  3. thepone

    thepone In the Brooder

    Apr 15, 2008
    Dolores, Colorado
    Well first they would all snuggle in the pine shavings together then started to roost, all twelve shoulder to shoulder and then all of a sudden it was 'how many chickens can you fit into a VW nesting box'. I guess if I blocked off the nesting boxes I could give them another option. Is this common then?
  4. MiniDriver

    MiniDriver Songster

    Nov 15, 2007
    Mine snuggle a lot at night too, at about the same age.

    At first, I thought they were scared, because they're experiencing their first nights outside and their first nights out of the brooder w/out light. That's still my working theory - they're more comfortable together.

    During the day they roost happily and have fun scratching around. But at night I think they get scared.
  5. ZooMummzy

    ZooMummzy Queen of the Zoo

    Mar 31, 2008
    Philomath, Oregon
    Mine are 12 weeks old and they still snuggle in one corner of the coop under the nesting boxes. Hubby is offended since he put in all these nice roosting poles that they never use [​IMG] I've tried putting them on them at night but no luck, they just like to cuddle I guess.
  6. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

    Nov 9, 2007
    SW Arkansas
    I understand what you mean by pile-up yand it's more than just "snuggling". Mine freak every time the sun goes down. Once when they were a few weeks younger there was a pile-up, not sure why then, since the sun wasn't setting. Two chicks were crushed, but luckily they recovered. I'm no expert, but I believe it's just something they have to get used to...the sun setting that is. You could try blocking off the nesting box, but my guess is they'll just find some other place to pile up. I just watch mine closely at that time of day. If the pile up seems dangerous, if chicks are really getting crushed, I dismantle the pile. Otherwise I leave them alone and after it's truly dark they spread out. Mine are also 8 weeks old and I think (hope) it's something they'll grow out of.
  7. countryatheart

    countryatheart In the Brooder

    May 3, 2008
    Victoria, TX
    My four are 16 weeks old and still crowd all together on the roosts! They always head to "bed" just after the sun sets. I tease my teenager that they are smarter than kids because they have the sense to come home when it gets dark!
  8. lovemychicks9

    lovemychicks9 Songster

    Apr 29, 2008
    South Carolina
    do youl have a dim light in your coop? I use a 25 watt party light in red for mine as they really do not care for complete darkness. Also I would cover or remove the nesting boxes as they do not need them yet and if they get used to sleeping in them now when the time comes to lay, they will not associate them with laying eggs but with bedtime. Trudy [​IMG] [​IMG]
  9. Suess hens

    Suess hens Songster

    May 4, 2008
    Altadena, CA
    At night my three outside do this, and it is like a fight to see who gets the bottom. My roo always fights to be in the back. I know they use their perches at some point because there is poop on them...but whenever I see them go in to sleep they do it in a group.
  10. thepone

    thepone In the Brooder

    Apr 15, 2008
    Dolores, Colorado
    OK well this all makes me feel a bit better knowing they're not the only chickens out there with a rather New Delhi sense of personal space. I'll give them a couple more weeks and then try to ween them from the nesting boxes. I hesitate to keep a light out there as a night light because, well, if these things live several years, that'll add up. I'd rather they get used to life in the dark - I'm assuming somewhere in their DNA there's some old wild code that will say 'darkness is normal at night'. I could be wrong of course. But thank you for all of your advice and suggestions - it really helps when you just have nothing left to do but shake your head and wonder 'what on earth?...'

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