Scared of the Dark????

GardenJen77

Songster
Mar 23, 2017
139
137
157
Central Michigan, USA
This is my second year of raising chicks and I was just blown away this time around by an interesting phenomenon. In my large brooder I have 20 chicks and 8 ducklings. I have our heat lamp on a timer to better replicate a mother hen getting off her nest one in awhile and to regulate the heat. During the day it works great! At night....

Ohhh my...

When it is dark and that light turns off the chicks and ducklings freak out. The ducklings start raising the roof with their panicked cries. Turn the light back on.....quiet. Turn it off, FREAK OUT.

Anyone else seen this happen? How do you prepare to wean them off the heat lamp if they are scared of the dark? What a weird problem LOL.
 

PachecoPeeps

Songster
Mar 2, 2018
414
712
166
Newman, CA
This is one of the reasons people use the heat plate and MHP system. It trains the chicks on a more regular day/night cycle. They are less scared when it gradually goes from light to dark compared to all consuming darkness out of nowhere. Do you have the brooder somewhere that has natural light? If so when they are off the heat lamp that will help regulate their cycle.
 

oregonkat

Crowing
7 Years
Oct 5, 2012
2,003
2,828
377
Southern Oregon
This is my second year of raising chicks and I was just blown away this time around by an interesting phenomenon. In my large brooder I have 20 chicks and 8 ducklings. I have our heat lamp on a timer to better replicate a mother hen getting off her nest one in awhile and to regulate the heat. During the day it works great! At night....

Ohhh my...

When it is dark and that light turns off the chicks and ducklings freak out. The ducklings start raising the roof with their panicked cries. Turn the light back on.....quiet. Turn it off, FREAK OUT.

Anyone else seen this happen? How do you prepare to wean them off the heat lamp if they are scared of the dark? What a weird problem LOL.
Chicks cannot see at all in the dark, which is why they freak out. The MHP system allows them to follow a natural light dark cycle so that they can 'go to bed' as daylight wanes. Perhaps the thing to do would be to change over from the heat lamp to ambient light so they can huddle and then turn off the lights completely. How are you keeping the chicks warm other than the heat lamp if you are turning it off?
 

moniquem

Crowing
Feb 3, 2013
721
1,621
282
washington
My 5 chicks are a week old and I have been using the MHP. I did notice that at night if I turned the light off and they weren't under the MHP they got kind of stressed out so now I do a gradual dimming of the light at around dusk. They all kind of quiet down and make their way under the MHP. Once they are all under or around the entrance I turn off the light completely. They stay under the MHP until next morning when I open the window and start turning up the lights. Not a peep out of anyone.
 

GardenJen77

Songster
Mar 23, 2017
139
137
157
Central Michigan, USA
Chicks cannot see at all in the dark, which is why they freak out. The MHP system allows them to follow a natural light dark cycle so that they can 'go to bed' as daylight wanes. Perhaps the thing to do would be to change over from the heat lamp to ambient light so they can huddle and then turn off the lights completely. How are you keeping the chicks warm other than the heat lamp if you are turning it off?
My brooder is inside in a room where there is a wood stove that tends to keep the ambient temperature between 75-90 degrees. The only light source in the room where they are is a "daylight" light in the room. I don't have a way to set up a MHP system, especially with so many chicks in the brooder.
 

GardenJen77

Songster
Mar 23, 2017
139
137
157
Central Michigan, USA
This is one of the reasons people use the heat plate and MHP system. It trains the chicks on a more regular day/night cycle. They are less scared when it gradually goes from light to dark compared to all consuming darkness out of nowhere. Do you have the brooder somewhere that has natural light? If so when they are off the heat lamp that will help regulate their cycle.
The room that they are in has a window on the opposite wall, that doesn't let in a lot of light, so the main light source is a ceiling light that I use a "daylight" bulb in. It's fairly light in there.
 

Spartan22

Crowing
Sep 2, 2014
3,672
3,518
452
NE Ohio
If you can’t afford to buy MHP or brinsea Ecoglow like me, you can use a daytime light(daylight) and a nighttime light(red). Since I have Christmas timers and all this light bulbs, I have 2 lights that will alternate to simulate day and night on timer. So they are used to change of lighting by the time they move to the coop.

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llombardo

Crowing
Mar 11, 2018
3,017
4,806
356
Illinois
Mine are in the bathroom. I open the blinds in the morning and shut them at night. Once I got done with the heat lamp I used a nightlight, then I stopped that. Each transition worked well. Last night they got loud when I left the room and it was lights out, but they calmed down after a minute or so. I'm pretty sure that wasn't a light issue, but a me issue. They are pretty content when I'm with them. Just sitting there seems to calm them.
 

llombardo

Crowing
Mar 11, 2018
3,017
4,806
356
Illinois
Dark most animals experience indoors is much darker with more rapid light levels changes than typical in nature. In research setting I have so light levels change gradually and a night light is also provided so lights never go to nothing. The stress is not something to laugh at or consider as natural.

I had the same thoughts. We go through a gradual routine, did so since day 1. The window is direct light so the difference is gradual. When I go up at 7 it's almost completely dark, so shutting the blinds goes with the gradual darkness. In the mornings it's almost light when the blinds open so the light is gradual there too. The night light was on for about a week. Sometimes I sat with them until they all settled down. Now I don't have to do any of that. It got to be a routine. I think they like the routine. The same thing with the brooder--it's their safe place. They wander all over the bathroom but always return to the brooder. I believe this will be how the coop will work for them pretty much immediately.
 

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