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How Do Baby Chicks Sleep?

As with any new life, knowledge is crucial when it comes to proper care. The more you know, the more likely it is that you’ll get things right.

So when it comes to your new chicks, know this:

Baby chicks will nestle down to sleep wherever there is adequate warmth and protection… and whenever they feel the need.

While this might seem fairly straight forward, there are some nuances that need to be understood. Such as, adequate warmth is actually a moving target and adequate protection simply means that the baby chicks feel safe… not that they actually are.

In the following, we will discuss what baby chicks need to sleep properly and what role light levels play in their sleep routine.

Baby Chicks And Adequate Warmth

If you are raising chicks without a mother hen to help, then understand that the welfare of your adorable little ‘cheepers’ depends entirely on you. There is no mother’s wing to cuddle up underneath and get warm when they need it.

Consequently, it is absolutely crucial that you master the art of keeping baby chicks at the right temperature. Otherwise, things can very quickly become fatal.

For an in-depth look at this, please read, “How Do Baby Chicks Die?

The general rule of thumb for temperature and your baby chicks is;

  • Start them at around 92 degrees Fahrenheit and then lower that temperature about 5 degrees every week until they’re ready to go outside.

To be clear, this general rule should be considered a guideline to help and not an unbreakable rule to follow. Your baby chicks’ behavior should dictate how well this temperature guide is working for them.

For example, if your baby chicks are panting heavily with their wings stretched out and away from their bodies, then it would be a good assumption that the temperature is too high and that your baby chicks are too hot.

If you see this, then you should act immediately to cool the brooder.

Likewise, if you find your chicks tightly mashed together and chirping in a stressful fashion, then it could be that they are too cold. In this situation, you would most likely want to lower the heat lamp so that it is closer to them.

*Always observe the behavior of your baby chicks and trust that over what the thermometer and temperature chart is telling you!

Baby Chicks And Protection

Like a lot of young, baby chicks have very little knowledge about the world around them and a over-powering curiosity to check out everything. This is helpful and hazardous at the same time.

Because of this, any mama bird (feathered or not) caring for a new flock, is truly going to have their work cut out for them.

It will amaze you the ways these little birds can get themselves in trouble!

And when they do manage to get themselves in a predicament, their stress level rises accordingly. Stressed-out chicks do not sleep well.

This is how adequate protection can influence the sleeping behavior of your baby chicks.

It is not enough to simply know that your baby chicks are safe, but rather you must make them feel that they are safe in order for them to sleep properly.

For this reason, I recommend that all family pets are kept away from the brooder. You may know and believe, with absolute certainty, that the family friend is not going to hurt your new little fuzzballs. But that doesn’t mean that your baby chicks believe it.

Do your chicks a favor and wait until they’re older to introduce them to any family pets.

Baby Chicks And Napping

It always amazed me just how quickly an infant could go from throwing a fit about taking a nap to completely out – quite often while still in your arms. Newly hatched chicks are no exception to this.

Baby chicks can be literally chasing each other around the brooder… stop … close their eyes… sway for a moment on their feet… and then be asleep.

It’s one of those things that makes you scratch your head the first time you see it.

But as odd as this behavior might seem, it is not bad for your baby chicks to nap.

Your new birds are going from the size of an egg to the size of a volley ball in roughly 8 weeks. That is a phenomenal amount of growth! And that rate of growth is certainly deserving of a nap.

So long as you are confident that you are doing well at temperature and protection, you should feel alright about letting the chicks nap whenever they feel the need.

## Note ##

It is important to note the difference between being lethargic and in need of a nap. While they may both look the same initially, lethargy is much longer lasting and can be an indicator of health issues.

Baby Chicks At Night

There is quite a lot of debate over whether or not your baby chicks should have a night light on during the night.

In a natural situation, where a mother hen is on sight, the chicks will go to sleep at dusk and will not move again until the next morning when the sun comes up.

This behavior will continue on through the entire life of your chicken.

However, it should be noted that there is nothing ‘natural’ about getting your chicks through the mail.

Consequently, our experience has been that baby chicks do better with a light on at night, up till about 4 weeks of age.

I can testify to more than one occasion where I checked on the baby birds at 2AM and found someone eating or drinking.

And considering the rough time they spent in shipping and the phenomenal amount of growth they are enduring, I am alright leaving the light on for them to find their way to the feeder or waterer.

However, I stop this indulgence at 4 weeks of age.

This is because the chicks have grown enough at this age to have some physical resilience and are usually rambunctious enough to get themselves in trouble.

And as chickens go docile when they can not see, the absence of light forces them to behave during the night, when no humans are around to help them out of trouble.

Baby Chicks And Bedding

It should be mentioned that no matter how you decide to heat the brooder, whether by a heat-lamp or a heating pad, a quality bedding is crucial for the chicks to sleep properly.

The only bedding that we recommend is pine shavings.

As to what size the shavings are, fine or coarse, really is a matter or personal preference (we use fine for the little feet and then coarse as the chicks get bigger).

However, make sure that you are using pine shavings and not cedar shavings as cedar shavings are toxic.

A quality bedding material will help with both temperature and protection for the chicks as it keeps the little birds up off the cold ground and away from any potential spills from the waterer.