What to Do With Your Chickens When You Go on Holiday
It’s a dilemma that all chicken owners will face at some point. You want to go away on holiday but who will look after your beloved chickens? There are many different options that are available to you, but the welfare of your chickens will obviously be your top priority.
Leaving them on their own
If you are out for the day, don’t worry. Chickens are not like other pets, dogs for example, that need company. They are happy in their flock, so you are fine to go out for the day. Ideally you would be there to close the coop door when they put themselves to roost at nightfall. This will protect them from nocturnal predators.
If you have an Omlet Autodoor then you don’t have to worry, but just check they’re all in when you get home. If you frequently rely on an Autodoor and leave your chickens unsupervised, then you would be wise to make sure your run is predator proof, in case any stragglers get left outside. Either dig your fencing at least a foot into the ground or make sure it comes out in a “skirt” along the ground to dissuade burrowing predators. Personally, I love the skirts on the Eglu runs.
If you plan on being away for one night or more, we recommend that you find some care for your beloved chooks. Perhaps your flock has a few divas, or maybe there are some predators in the area? Either way, we feel that human oversight is incredibly important.
But what could go wrong?
Some people think that they can just rely on leaving a large amount of feed and water to sustain their chooks while they’re away. However, there are many things that can go wrong with this scenario. Here are some possible risks:
- The water could freeze overnight, leaving your chooks high and dry
- The chickens could knock over their water or it could get blocked
- Chickens often have problems, maybe one landed badly and hurt a leg or broke a wing, or has there been feather pecking etc
- They may have run out of food…
- Or, if you left lots of food lying around it could have attracted rats or other vermin who might venture back after dark!
- The weather could suddenly turn hot, wet or cold. Do your chickens have places they can shelter? What if they run out of water?
Asking a friend or neighbour
Friends and neighbours are great if you’re going away for a short time and they can even get paid in eggs! (An egg-cellent deal if you ask me.) If you are away for longer than a few days then this becomes a less appropriate option, unless you have chicken expert neighbours.
For trips of a week or more you will be asking your chicken foster parents to come to visit twice a day, collect eggs, poop pick and clean waterers, feeders etc. It’s a lot to ask, especially in the colder, darker, wetter months. Not only that, but if they are not experienced in chicken care then they might miss some unusual behaviours which indicate ailments such as mite infestation, damaged limbs, worms, sour crop or being egg bound.
Using a chicken hotel
Dogs and cats have had a long history of dedicated accommodation for their holiday boarding needs. Now is the time of the chicken! With chicken ownership at over 1.5 million and growing at a faster rate than any other pet, is it any wonder that new enterprising individuals are starting to offer holiday boarding for chickens? Many of these businesses can be found by word of mouth, or an internet search of: ‘Chicken Boarding near me’. You can also find individuals on a dedicated chicken boarding platform called Betsy, which is a bit like Airbnb for Chickens!
How do you choose a chicken hotel?
This is something that you need to think carefully about. First of all is to check out their website and look through their photos and what they are offering in terms of their service. If it seems to suit your needs you might like to take a visit to their premises to check that reality matches up to their persuasive photos. Listings on Betsy are all verified and pre-checked and often come with reviews from past customers. This can speed up your search and save you time.
Some of the things you need to look out for include:
- Dedicated coop and run for your chickens
- Plenty of space so that they feel comfortable
- Thorough cleaning between guests
- The run is moved often to provide fresh grass
- Chickens are woken up and put to bed
- Chickens and are fed and watered daily
- The environment is well protected from pest and threats
- The host knows how to spot common ailments, such as red mite and scaly foot
Using a professional pet sitter
If you have a large flock, or you want your chickens to stay in their own coop, then there are alternatives to Chicken Hotels. A visiting chicken sitter can be the answer you are looking for. They might be someone that will come and housesit while you are away, also looking after your other animals. Alternatively they might be someone who specifically comes to visit your chickens each day.
The perfect sitter will have specific experience with chickens and will be willing to come twice a day, in the morning and the evening around the times that you would normally tend to the coop. They need to agree to collect eggs (or you might develop an egg-eating problem within your flock), check on the condition of the birds, ensure clean water and fresh food is available. You will probably want to talk to the person first to confirm the service they intend to offer and to check that you are happy for them to care for your flock. You can find many pet sitting websites on the internet. Betsy has a dedicated section for visiting chicken sitters with pre-vetted hosts and customer reviews.
This article was written for Omlet by David, the CEO and founder of Betsy, the UK’s local network of Chicken Hotels for all your Chicken boarding needs.
This entry was posted in Chickens