Going on Holiday

In the excitement of getting your first chickens it’s easy to overlook this point, but somebody will have to look after them whenever you are away from home.

Chickens and Holidays

When you go away on holiday, you will need peace of mind that your chickens are being well looked after.

Remember that the chickens will need to be let out in the morning and closed safely
into their house at night. They must also have fresh food and water. An automatic door opener/closer is helpful, but chickens should still be checked at least once a day to make sure that all is well. They can get ill very quickly and a sick hen is likely to be attacked by the others, so regular inspections are essential.

However, even the most committed chicken keepers usually manage to escape occasionally – it’s just a matter of planning. Try to have your plan in place before the chickens actually arrive, to avoid being caught out when that unexpected invitation to a weekend away crops up.

The best bet is to find somebody local who is prepared to look after your flock in exchange for some eggs. Or there may be other chicken keepers living nearby and you can help each other out. It’s worth asking around.

Failing this, you will probably have to pay someone. A local youngster or pensioner might be interested in earning some extra cash, or you could look for a professional pet-sitter. Check out the notice boards in your feed store and vet’s waiting room, or try an on-line search. A pet-sitter will probably charge per visit, so if you are away a lot an automatic pop-hole door could save money in the long run. There are also pet-sitters who can move into your house if you wish, and take care of everything.

youngster cleaning out chicken house

A local youngster might be interested in looking after your chickens while you are away.

Whoever you choose, make sure they know how to look after chickens and are happy to do all that is required. Always check references carefully.

Chickens don’t like change, so try to keep them in their own environment and routine if at all possible.

Relocating your chickens

Maybe none of the above options are workable, in which case you might have to consider relocating your chickens when you go away.

If you have friends or family who are happy to help but live too far to come in every day, you might be able to take everything over to their house. Just make sure they understand how to care for chickens, or if they already have some, remember that the two groups must be kept separately. Check too what chicken predators they might have locally – including family dogs.

Chicken boarding

There are many establishments now offering chicken boarding. Although some places might require you to bring your own housing, usually a house and run is provided for each flock of chickens. Confirm that this is always moved to fresh ground, and thoroughly disinfected between every change of occupants. Check too that there is electric poultry fencing around the site. Have a good look at the place before letting them look after your precious hens – make sure that everything is well-maintained with happy, healthy residents.

Provide feed yourself or make sure your chickens will be fed their familiar brand, as changes in diet can lead to digestive upsets.

Although I’ve never tried chicken boarding, some places do look very professional, even offering extra services such as nail trimming and wing clipping!

Chickens on the move

If you do have to move your chickens, it’s a good idea to add apple cider vinegar to their drinking water for a few days afterwards. It will help their systems cope with any stress caused by the change.

transporting chickens

Chickens should be transported in boxes or crates with good ventilation to avoid overheating.

You can also keep stress levels to a minimum by avoiding overheating during their journey. Hot, overcrowded conditions will cause suffering or even fatalities, so make sure travelling boxes are spacious and airy. Put them on the back seat rather than in the boot, so that you can keep an eye on the temperature, and in warm weather try to travel either first thing or at night. As with dogs – never leave chickens in a parked car!

Don’t forget…

When you’ve found someone reliable to look after your chickens, do all you can to make it as easy as possible!

Leave plenty of feed and bedding plus cleaning out equipment. Check everything is in good repair and working properly: house, run, feeder drinker, electric fencing, automatic doors (put in new batteries before you go).

Write down a list of instructions, including a contact phone number and details of your vet. A copy of your chicken reference book and details of poultry websites / forums may also be helpful.

Yes, you really can have it all – happy chickens and happy holidays!

37 Responses to Going on Holiday

  1. Brandysal says:

    Hi, Ive had my 3 girls for about 8 months now (originally 4 but Eggwina no longer with us) and they are very free range. I am looking at getting an automatic door opener for the winter as I work early morning and I dont really like letting them out in the dark, and would also help when I am away as my neighbour would only need to check on them once a day. The only problem is that my coop has a flip down door and all the door openers I’ve found are to be used on pully up doors. Any advice on where I can get an alternative??
    Also any tips on hows to keep the chucks warm during winter? Reports are its going to be a bad one, up here in Scotland at least!!

    • Keeping Chickens says:

      I had a flip down door on one of my coops – so I added a second door to the inside for the door keeper – it’s not too hard to add = a few strips of wood for the rails and cut out a square of ply. The advantage is the door keeper can be inside in the dry but you will need the extension cable light sensor which should be mounted outside to see the daylight.

      Heaters are handy for water containers in the cold – but chickens can stand very cold temperatures (they keep them in Canada at -20 and below) as long as their coop is dry and draft free.

  2. Valeriel says:

    Hi, great site with lots of helpful information. I know you said that chickens get stressed out by moving but we have a narrowboat and hope to go for longer periods in the summer. I have read about people taking a couple of chickens with them and wonder if you think this would be feasible? We have a covered front well and they could free range on the towpath. Would they return to me if brought up from young?
    Odd question I know but I would rather have them with me than left in the garden only getting let in and out of the covered run.

    • Keeping Chickens says:

      Sounds like an excellent idea. They get stressed by moving them from one home to another as their surroundings will be unfamiliar but on the boat their ‘house’ shouldn’t change so I think they should do quite well. If you call and feed them treats such as mealworms they should come running.

  3. Niall Monaghan says:

    Hi,

    A great website, packed with useful info, thanks.

    I am about to take delivery of my first 3 hens in a few weeks. I was told be a friend that if I had a fox proof run (Omlet Cube with run), then I dont need to keep the the coop door closed at night. She lets hers come and go as they please.
    Your advice above says “chickens need to be locked up without fail at dusk every night”

    Advice please.

    Thanks

    Niall

    • Keeping Chickens says:

      Providing the run is secure then you can leave the coop door open. Just make sure there is no possibility of a fox digging under the run.

  4. sal says:

    morning, my sister is in thailand on her hols for two weeks, and I have just returned from letting her three chickens out for the day, beryl, babs and ginge, I thought I would have a read on your website to see if there were any treats an aunty could take round, they have mealworks, anyway I just wanted to say thankyou for all your great
    information and reiterate what has been said, that they are so funny, its just great to watch them exploring around the garden, I shall tell Ali (sister) about this website and
    maybe she could send a pic or two of the girls. Thankyou.

    • Keeping Chickens says:

      Thank you, I am pleased you like my site. Yes please tell your sister and share with your friends, this is what keeps the site going is my visitors 🙂

  5. Emma Halliday says:

    Regarding places to “board” your chickens there are places that do accept chickens. One such place is Durham Hens, which keeps each group of holidaying chickens in separate runs, and they are very good at looking after your girls. I know there are other places as well that do this. Really good idea, and the journey does not seem to faze my chooks too much

  6. Kaylin H. says:

    I Bought my chickens in august and have no place to put them for the winter
    (they have been living in a dog cage with a tarp covering it)
    Are there any places where i can board them? I really love my two little girls and don’t want to sell them or …..the alternative
    I would really like it if you could give me any ideas to do at this time?
    My family currently can not work on building a coop because our house needs more intense work

    • Keeping Chickens says:

      Buy a coop and run is all I can suggest. A dog cage with a tarp over the top isn’t suitable for them, they need to be kept out of the wind and have nest boxes to lay in.

      If you can’t give them a proper home, I would suggest you don’t keep them.

  7. Claire says:

    I have a secure coop and outside run for my girls, this has a high perch which they love to sit on. During the summer they have been roosting on this high perch quite happily and as it was warm I left them to it. Now the nights are getting colder I want them to go back in their coop on a night so that I can shut them up and keep them warmer. They don’t seem to want to go willingly and I’m having to lift them all in and close the door quickly. Am I doing the right thing or will they go in of their own accord when they think its too cold ? Would love some advice as I dont want to distress them unnecessarily
    Thanks

    • Keeping Chickens says:

      Chickens will get used to their coop or in your case ‘roosting place’. If you put a new coop next to their old, they will continue to use the old one through habit.

      I would remove the outside perch and physically lock them into their coop at night for a few weeks. After a while, they will get used to it and will go in of their own accord.

  8. LLLDTHE LAD says:

    My babes have been living with me for a couple of years now. They have been a great pleasure. But one keeps on getting picked on by the others and I don’t want her to get hurt. When she eats she sticks away from the others. What shall I do?

    • Keeping Chickens says:

      You can’t really do much I’m afraid – they have a pecking order and there will always be one at the bottom of the order.

      I would ensure there are multiple feeding / watering points so she can always get to feed and water and give them space so she’s not forced too close to a bully.

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