Chick Torture

One of the things you’re supposed to do with little chicks is to turn off the brooder lamp for a short period of time each day, maybe half an hour, to get them used to the idea of nighttime and prepare them for life outdoors. Because the lamp is not just a source of light, but also a source of heat, it’s important to do this during a warm part of the day so they don’t catch a chill. (Baby chicks can’t regulate their body temperature.)

We call this the Torture of Darkness. When we turn off the lamp, AKA The Sun, The Source of All Good Things in the Universe, they fall into a terrified silence. At least, that’s how I interpret it. Then they start the most pitiful, desperate cheeping you’ve ever heard. I can’t bear it. It’s like Tummy Time for new mothers.

Sometimes we make it half an hour, and sometimes one of us says, “Have we tortured the chicks long enough?” and we bring back the sun, restoring peace and order to the little flock.