Looking after your flock during the holiday season:
Having peace of mind that your hens will be looked after while you are away on vacation is a must. You could end up worrying and being unable to relax and enjoy your holiday.
Chickens are great fun but also a responsibility and do not appreciate change so if you go away often then getting a sitter in is probably a better choice than moving them to a boarding house several times a year.
If you are away on holidays, your hens still need to be:
- Collect the eggs.
- Let them out in the morning and put back in at night.
- Check for any problems.
Even the most worried chicken keepers can escape on holiday, it just requires a little planning.
How do you care for your chickens when on vacation?
There are a variety of ways to keep your hens safe and sound at the same time as you are sunning yourself on the beach.
While you are away on vacation you can still care for your chickens by either taking them to a pet boarding house or getting someone to pet sit for you. One of the best ways is make a reciprocal agreement with another local chicken keeper and you can look after each others chickens when you need to.
METHODS FOR CHICKEN CARE WHILST YOU'RE AWAY ON HOLIDAY:
Automation. There are a wide variety of automatic door openers and closer for use with chickens that let them out in the mornings and lock them up in the evenings.
Below: An automatic door closer opens with the light and closes at dusk. They can also be timer controlled. I have several.
Feeding and watering can also be automated to a point as long as you have a backup in the pipeline to make sure then don't run out of feed and water. You have your system set up well in advance and working so it can be tested to make sure it runs smoothly while you're away.
Getting, paying or bribing a friend, family member or local trustworthy youngster to look after your hens. This is similar to getting a responsible teenage babysitter except they are looking after your chickens.
Find a local keeper with which you can strike up a reciprocal arrangement. This can be done on a Facebook group or meeting board. All you need to do is locate another backyard chickens keepers and offer to look after their hens if they look after yours.
Getting a house sitter whose happy to do chickens. Not all will and some specify no pets. You could try and find someone who is interested in getting a flock of their own but want to test drive chickens first.
The advantage of all the above methods is that your chickens are not moved and disturbed and can be cared for in their own environment. Chickens do not like to be moved and dislike travel even less especially if it involves a hot car.
Using a chicken boarding service. There are farms and homesteads around where you can board your birds in a chickenery, like a cattery but for fowl. A friend may be happy for you to relocate your birds to their garden for the duration of your vacation.
There are many places that offer chicken boarding and with some it is only the land that is up for short term let, you have to bring your own housing or ark. Check there is ample security or electric netting around the boarding house and make sure the site and coops are well maintained and mite free.
Below: a homemade chicken crate for moving birds.
Make sure you visit before you commit to look the place over.
Taking your birds with you. This depends on where you are going and how long for. Chickens do not really like change so unless you are away in a suitable location for like 30 days or something then this probably is not much of an option.
They are about, my research found quite a few holiday homes catering for chickens, ducks, rabbits and guinea pigs. We’ve also expanded our local homes visits to include a larger range of pet livestock, cats and puppies.
Preparing your flock before the holidays:
- Write down all the instructions, what to do and when and include details of the vet you use if they need it.
- Charge and change any batteries in your setup.
- Check everything is in good repair.
- Make sure there is feed and treats for while you are on holiday.
- Make sure you have ample chicken crates or carry cases.
- Add a trusted source or website for reference if they need to check on things.
- Clean everything before you go so your sitter isn't stuck shovelling poop.
Tips for transporting your chickens:
- Moving your chickens is better in the back seat rather than the boot of your vehicle. Heat is stressful for chickens.
- Never overcrowd them.
- The best time to transport chickens is early in the morning.
- The birds must not be allowed to flap or move and the crate you choose must keep them calm.
- Secure your birds when you transport them.
- Allow them to have access to fresh air.
- Never leave chickens in a parked car.
- Chickens going on longer journeys should be allowed to eat and drink before being packed up.
- There are laws about how long you can transport livestock for. Check yours beforehand.
- Apple cider vinegar added to their water as a tonic will help settle them after the move.
How long can you leave chickens?
You can leave chickens overnight without any worry provided they are put to bed and let out in the morning according to their normal routine.
Leaving chickens on their own for any length of time is never a good idea. That said I have left mine for weekends away on several occasions and I have never had any issues. I have large feeders and an automatic door closer. I also tend to go away in the winter when it's cold and they're are not so many eggs.
Below: Transporting can be stressful for chickens. Make sure your hens are safe and secure.
If you are planning on leaving your chickens for a week it may be possible but I wouldn't recommend it.
The thing to do is get your setup working and see if it can do a week while you are there to watch it all work. You need to double cover the feed and water sources and i would still get someone to check on your flock once a day. I would not leave my chickens for a week. Two nights is the most I would do.
Do chickens get lonely without their keeper?
Will your chickens miss you when your away. Probably, and they will be aware that it's not the regular person feeding them. As long as they get feed, water and the odd treat they will be just fine with it.
The chicken sitter may get a few tilted heads and funny looks from the hens but once they realise the feed and treats are there they will all be fine.
Can chickens stay in the coop all day?
No. Keeping the hens locked in a coop is very bad idea. There will be stress, fighting and bullying.
You need a run which is at least twice the size of the coop if you want to keep them confined.