Scared of the dark?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by StonebeckFarm, Jun 21, 2007.

  1. StonebeckFarm

    StonebeckFarm Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 21, 2007
    Wayupstate NY
    We're a new chicken family with 25 ladies who are about 5 weeks old. They have been living in our kitchen in a child’s swimming pool lined with hay and surrounded by 4 feet of chicken wire. They have a vairiety of log roosts in the pool. We have taken them out during the day but brought them back at night till we could get the outside accommodations more predator proof. (We live surrounded by a forest with all kinds of wildlife.) This house is their “summer” dwelling. It was originally built like a chicken tractor. My husband added a steep pitched roof to add perches. We planned to move it everyday, allowing them to free range when we could be out with them. The local hawk in very interested in them.

    Last night they were supposed to be outside the whole night in their house. They were ok until about 8:30pm when they started huddling on top of each other. We turned on the heat lamp incase they were cold. It still seemed pretty warm. My husband made enclosed sides yesterday that can be securely attached at night so they wouldn’t be drafty. The heat lamp didn’t seem to make much difference. They walked around a little and checked things out with the heat lamp on (red 250 W) and then went back into the corner in a huddle. Finally we carried them all back inside, sometime after 9:30. Some in our arms and some in an old cat carrier. How do we acclimated the chickens to outside night living? They are too big for the pool and can't live in the kitchen/dining room for ever. Would there be anything else we should be considering?
     
  2. 4H kids and mom

    4H kids and mom Cooped Up

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    Mar 10, 2007
    Southern Wisconsin
    Chickens need to adjust their eyes to darkness just like we do. You will need to have them outside during the day and let them adjust to dusk and then dark. If you turn on a light after dusk or dark, you have defeated your purpose. At 5 weeks, they are most likely not cold....they are spoiled! It is plenty warm enough (in most places. Where are you located?) out now for them to move to a "big chicken" house so you can have your house back. Make sure their 'house' has windows so they can get used to the changing light to dark and they will be less afraid. To make it easier, while they are in your house, turn off their light early in the day and put them near a window. Let the natural light pour in and they will adjust. There WILL be some confusion the first night or two, but its something they have to deal with. I have a batch of 2 week old chicks in my house that have been on a "natural light" schedule for a week. Its been very warm here, so there was no need for their light anymore. The room they brood in has a great window and I just let them get used to light and dark that way.
     
  3. StonebeckFarm

    StonebeckFarm Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 21, 2007
    Wayupstate NY
    Thanks for the response.

    We only added the heat lamp at 9:15pm as a desperate measure. We had actually put it away and hadn't been using it over over a week. It was never used outside. My husband had to locate enough extension cords to get it down to the garden where the house is. (The long term plan is to get electricity down there permanently, but we thought we had the whole summer to work on the project.)

    We are located in northern New York south of the Canadian border. (15 miles as the crow flies but 45 minutes because the roads don't go from here to there!) It was about 48 degrees last night.

    The roof is plywood on one side and fine gauge wire on the other side that has a support to hold a nightime plywood cover. The two ends are open with chicken wire- the peak is a 6/12 pitch.

    They were outside from early morning on. Three sides of the tractor are wire. My husband built side panels to fit over the wire for night time after talking to someone local last night about drafts. She was concerend that they were huddling from the cold. I got in the house through the roof opening and the temp was fine. We checked for drafts and couldn't find any. During the day they have only two parts of the tractor covered- one half of the roof and one short side. The rest is open with the wire. Originally they were just in a wire pen but the hawk decided to check one out while we were in the house. We saw him just in time and scared him away. He got the wild baby bunny that was munching grass in the front yard instead.

    We had been trying to keep the kitchen lights off at night for the week preceding up to the move. We stopped using the heat lamp all the time at 3 weeks and went just to nights for a week and then to nothing. So they have not had the heat lamp for over a week.

    It is in the 60's today. They should be used to the natural light by now as they were near the diningroom window. We had one warm day, but now it is cool and breezy.

    Is it ok to let them huddle? We were warned they could suffocate each other if welet them do that. They were huddling for over an hour.

    Thanks
     

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