Do Baby Chicken Need Light at Night?

Most people understand that baby chicks require warmth to survive the first few days of their lives. However, most backyard chicken keepers are curious about the role of light in raising day-old chicks. 

They wonder if it’s necessary to provide light for their precious baby chicks or not and if they do, for how long? 

Do baby chicks need light and should heat lamps have a light? 

Do baby chicks need light at night?

Baby chicks may not need a light at night, but their growth can be slow when your baby chicks lack adequate exposure to light. 

Light helps babby chickens see their feed. The more they feed the faster the growth. Therefore light is instrumental to the rate at which your chicks grow, and too little light can have negative implications on the development of your flock. 

If the brooding room allows natural light for the chicks, you may not need supplemental light. However, a light with a timer that mimics natural daylight is essential if the brooding area is naturally dark. 

This ensures that the chicks get used to normal sleep and wake patterns. Light for baby chicks should be medium and not bright lighting because when it’s too bright, it may encourage toe pecking and cannibalism. 

Note that raising chicks without a hen will require both a source of warmth and a little light at night.

When using artificial lighting and you need to switch it off at night, make sure it switches off gradually. If you switch the lights suddenly, baby chicks will pile into a corner. This is because they cannot see in the darkness.  This leads to injuries as the ones at the bottom cannot support the weight of the chicks on top. The panic and scrabbling may lead them to plunge into drinkers and drown. 

For most backyard farmers, it’s just easier to let their baby chicks enjoy a little nighttime lighting.

How long to leave the light on baby chicks

Some backyard chicken keepers think that leaving a light on for baby chicks will disturb and cause them not to sleep. 

However, chicks are much more comfortable when they can see their surroundings, especially if you have red bulbs instead of white ones. 

Sleeping chicks will continue sleeping happily with a light on, so you do not worry that having a light overnight will keep your chicks from sleeping.

Do baby chicks eat at night?

Baby chicks hatched and raised on their own need to learn to find food and water within the first 24 to 72 hours. 

At this stage, these chicks are fragile and can easily become dehydrated and hungry, especially one that is weaker than the others. 

The night vision for chickens is as terrible as that of humans. 

Once the light is off, they have difficulty finding anything around the brooder. 

If a backyard keeper leaves the chicks light off for eight hours or more, the chicks may not get enough time to find food and water and are likely to get thirsty and hungry. 

To help them learn where the waterers and feeders are, you can provide light for them for the first few weeks. 

With a light, they can explore and look for food whenever they are not asleep freely.

Do baby chicks sleep at night?

For the first two days, baby chicks sleep a lot. 

A heat lamp with proper lightning, enough food, and water will do wonders in accelerating the rate at which your chicks develop. 

Good heat and light lamps will keep your chicks comfortable and reassure them that they are safe. 

This helps them sleep better at night. 

However, using a bright white light 24 hours a day may disturb the chicks because they perceive it as sunlight and won’t sleep well at night.

Do baby chicks need a heat lamp?

Baby chicks kept with the mother have no use for additional heat at night because they get warmth and comfort from the mother. 

However, artificially hatched chicks need a heat lamp, at least for the first few weeks of their lives. Mothers keep new chicks warm because they don’t have feathers to help regulate temperatures. 

In the absence of a mother hen, brooding chickens must have a heat lamp or other heat sources. 

When purchasing a heat lamp for your baby chicks, red bulbs are the most appropriate choice because they allow chicks to adapt to the natural daylight cycle.

How long do chicks need a heat lamp?

The common recommendation is to start with a heat lamp at 95F and reduce it by 5 degrees every week until you are at 70F. 

This is appropriate, especially in cold climates, but 70F may be too far if you are in warm areas. 

The best thing to consider when weaning baby chicks off heat sources is whether they are grown enough to keep themselves warm. 

Chickens keep themselves warm with feathers, and in the summer, they spread their wings to let the heat escape. 

At 8-10 weeks, most baby chicks have grown feathers that can protect them from the cold. 

You can consider turning off the heat source when fully feathered because the feathers should keep them warm even when the weather is cold.

Will chicks die without a heat lamp? 

Baby chicks need a heat lamp for 8 to 12 weeks until their feathers are fully formed and they can regulate their temperature. 

Without proper heating, baby chicks are vulnerable to the cold, and they may get chilled and eventually die. A heat lamp will help you control the temperature in the brooder to keep the chicks warm during the day and at night. 

There are a few signs to watch out for to ensure that your baby chicks are not too warm or cold. When the brooder is cold, the chicks huddle and go closer to the heat lamp to get warmth; in such cases, you can increase the wattage of the heat lamp. 

When they are spread in the brooder, the temperature is probably too much, and you need to reduce the wattage.


Providing your chicks with a little light and enough heat sources is crucial for developing your chicks. 

Gradually, as your chicks grow feathers, the need for artificial light and heat disappears. Ensure that you get your baby chicks a good heat lamp that offers both warmth and light.

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About James Polystead

I grew up on a small farm. My parents used to grow food and keep animals for our sustenance. They would sell the surplus to make an extra coin to supplement the income from their jobs. I am taking the same path. I have over 40 chickens for eggs and meat. I also grow vegetables in my backyard. follow me on Twitter

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