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Musings on sleep deprived chicks

 
jacque greenleaf
pollinator
Posts: 488
Location: Burton, WA (USDA zone 8, Sunset zone 5) - old hippie heaven
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Just finished getting a batch of chicks raised. I used a cardboard box with a light on 24/7 for warmth. What I noticed was that the chicks have a hard time getting a real nap. You just get yourself nestled down into the bedding, close your eyes and nod off, but your cohorts are still doing busy chick things and stomp all over you.

I started wondering about this because if you take a chick out of the mob and handle it for a bit, and then let it cuddle down, it will fall asleep and stay that way for several hours on a towel on the couch, just as if it was pooped. I know they grow pretty fast under lights, but sleep deprivation intuitively seems to be sub-optimal, for both physical and mental health (let's leave aside for moment the discussion about a chicken's mental functioning!)

So I started musing how you would set up an incubator so chicks had a chance to get at least 40 solid winks in before getting stomped on. Maybe set up a dark/light cycle using a timer to force everyone to take a nap? But with the light off, how would you keep them warm enough? Has anyone tried using those reptile rocks to keep chicks warm? Any other ideas for non-light warmers? Has anyone who has watched a mama hen raise chicks noticed how long the light/dark cycle usually is? Does it change as the chicks get older?

Why do baby birds make this mammal go all mama-ish?
 
Tyler Ludens
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Getting stomped on to some extent is normal for chicks, because when they're raised by a hen, she stomps on them too, and kicks them, etc. I think if you want to provide a slightly better environment for them, figuring out how to keep them warm at night without using a light would be the best thing, for instance an electric oil-filled radiator, which are quite safe. Chicks being raised by a hen normally "go to bed" under her at dusk, and get up at dawn. If they're inside, having a light (not for heat) on a timer might help emulate the sun.
 
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