When raising chickens, it is sometimes necessary to move them. Whether it’s a long trip or a short trip to the vet, the goal is the same. The goal is to get your hens to their destination as easily and stress-free as possible.
Housing advice when traveling with chickens
When traveling with chickens, you definitely need a safe place to stay. You can’t open the car door and lock it. Everyone chooses a shelter such as a transport crate/kennel, a metal cage or a cardboard box with plenty of ventilation.
Personally, I use a large switch box with large cutouts for ventilation. The top cover offers versatility. Keep it dark when closed and open for chicken storage or easy access for chickens. I took the table and put the box in the back space with the box on the floor. I fill the floor with towels and hay for comfort and safety, and I include food and water bowls. This setup was perfect for a recent 10 hour trip with a few stops along the way.
British chicken keeper Andrew Taylor also used cardboard boxes to teach and recommended using them as liners to prevent leaks. He also recommended two chickens in a box. In addition, feces can form on it, which can cause serious illnesses.
Taylor thinks the box is best because chickens like the dark. Darkness can help them sleep because they are less able to see.
Oak Hill Homestead chicken farmer and blogger Kathi Rodgers used a dog crate for the chickens when they moved to Oklahoma. He kept his 6 buff Orffington hens in a large metal crate with a thick layer of straw on the floor. He plugged in the water and turned on the iron bowl.
“Every time I stop to refuel, I check the water level and add more if necessary, but I don’t refuel so as not to lose,” he explained. For short runs for a chicken, Rodgers says a small animal with a layer of straw works well. The straws help keep my feet clean and prevent slipping on the hard plastic.
You can also create a box for travel. Jeremy DuCheny, food blogger at One Thousand Foods, uses a wire cage at home to transport many chickens over long distances. Now he has about 40 chickens and has delivered chickens several times.
“These cages are just boxes made out of 1×2 wooden rectangles and covered with wire,” he said.
“The crate doesn’t need to be too high, but it can be wide enough to fill the entire bed of the car. We put straw in the bottom of the pen and, if necessary, attach a pacifier or the food bowl on the side. Ideally, the car should have a mattress topper, so that the wind does not hurt the birds when they come down the road.”
Bethany Scott of Rural Living Today uses a laundry basket to take chickens to the vet. “We put each in a small laundry basket with a layer of alfalfa in the bottom,” he said. To occupy them, he included “strawberry slices, including the top for picking strawberries from alfalfa.”
The environment when traveling with chickens
It’s important to keep your chicken comfortable during the trip. They can be sensitive to temperatures, especially heat.
The last thing you want is heat stress, which affects the egg and can be fatal. Symptoms include gasping, rapid breathing, lethargy, pale skin, and sluggishness. When I traveled abroad, I made sure it was not too hot and there was good ventilation. Crack windows or turn on the air conditioner (not blowing directly) as needed.
For peace of mind, be sure to check your car before driving long distances. The last thing you want is to turn on the fan to annoy the birds.
Keep the chicken out of direct sunlight when traveling. If you are in a metal cage, a thin blanket or towel covering part of the cage is an option. In addition to shade, it also provides privacy, giving your chickens more comfort.
You can take a metal cooler or ice bucket and add a few ice cubes to the plate or prepare some cold snacks like bananas, cucumbers or green leafy vegetables. Providing an ice water bottle that the chickens can avoid is another option.
Consider mixing in an electrolyte solution such as Sav-A-Chick for extra hydration. It’s also a good idea to add electrolytes to the water when you return.
Noise can also be a source of stress. It’s best to drive without music, but if that’s not possible, listen to soothing classical music. (Your chickens will not appreciate.) Reduce other noises, such as car horns or loud noises.
Slow down the brakes and take off quickly. Drive slowly and make sure you have a secure fence and bedding to prevent the chickens from slipping and swinging too much.
Chickens also need security and privacy. An open cage, for example, can make you feel good. Towels can provide privacy and shade.
If you are raising more than one chicken together, choose a chicken that generally does well to ensure that it does well when you travel. Read more: Preventing stress in happy, healthy chickens.
What to controls when traveling with chickens
Check the chickens every two hours to make sure they have water and feed, are comfortable, and the living space is clean. Bring extra linens to wash if needed, pool, trash bag, etc., and bring plenty of water and food for the extra food.
It’s also a good idea to have an empty cage/box/container on hand in case you need to separate the chickens or take them to the vet, or if anything unexpected happens.
keep things familiar
As the saying goes, familiarity breeds comfort, to make your chickens feel better, keep things familiar on the trip. Line the bottom of the carrier with familiar litter, such as birdhouse straw. Let your best friends ride together in the same carrier (if it’s big enough) or meet up.
For food and water, use familiar utensils. Follow the old rules. In my case, I had to leave in the morning while it was still dark, so I closed the mailbox cover and tried to be as quiet as the chickens at night. When the sun rises, the top of the hill is open for a while so that the hens can see the sun as usual. I also ate my normal meals with some snacks.
Poultry farmer and travel blogger Philip Weiss also recommends preparing curtains before new locations. “That means fresh food and water, clean towels and a fence to keep livestock safe. This will allow the chicken to return to normal after driving. ”
Expect some changes
Chickens will behave a little differently during and after the trip. Some chicken farmers report changes, such as short spawning after travel. I don’t like to eat while traveling. Give a handful of fruit or small mealworms as many colors.
Critter Depot cat breeder Jeff Neal recommends black tacks. “Good foods such as dark leafy vegetables contain more nutrients than grains and are filling, which will help the chickens stay healthy during the trip,” he said. “It lowers stress hormones, which help stimulate egg production.”
Of course, do not overdo it with snacks. A small hand is enough.
After the trip, the chickens will take some time to feel normal (or settle down if they have moved to a new location). Make him as comfortable as possible and act as usual. I kept my pack of dogs outside for a few days while finishing their new enclosure.
Traveling with chickens can seem daunting, but successful. In my experience, I have found that chickens are easy travelers. Some of these tips will come in handy when transporting sheep!