Let’s be honest – if you keeping any pets, going on vacation can definitely present some difficulties. And if you keep chickens in your backyard; you might be faced with an even more complicated predicament. After all, it’s not like you can just take them to a bird kennel for chickens. So, can you actually manage to go on vacation while keeping chickens? Don’t worry, you can still enjoy the summertime without your flock suffering any discomfort.
Though, while taking a vacation away from your backyard birdies is possible; it will require quite a bit of forethought. Indeed, you’ll definitely need some planning to make sure they remain happy and healthy while you’re not there.
But there’s no need for anxiety – we’ll provide you with some handy tips on having a stress-free vacation while your chickens remain home!
Chicken’s Little Helper
If you’re keeping chickens in your backyard and plan to go on vacation, you can definitely do it. However, it’s certainly a good idea to keep some supervision over them. You can manage that by getting someone you trust to stop by the flock and check on them from time to time. This doesn’t have to be too big of a chore; you can ask a member of your family, a close friend; a neighbor, or really anyone you trust to do this properly.
Just make sure you tell your chicken confidante about all of the little chores you expect them to perform while you’re away. If you don’t want someone going out of their way to take care of the birds, then be sure to ask someone who’s relatively close-by; or someone who doesn’t mind taking a ride. Because you’ll need this trusted person to stop by once or twice a day.
They’ll need to feed your chickens, let them out of the coop, collect the eggs, lock them at night, and stock them up on clean water. And sure, you can install an automatic door on your coop, if you haven’t already; but it’s still not a bad idea to have someone check the locks before nightfall. You might also be inclined to install a pair of predator deterrent lights – just in case your coop caretaker happens to be late for any reason.
Naturally, you may not be able to find a friend or family member willing to spend their time taking care of your chickens. In that case, search online and ask around for some recommendations for professional pet sitters. Even people who are usually dog walkers are equipped to do a basic daily checkup on your coop. And most of them will probably agree to do such small menial tasks for a small sum of money; in some cases, even just for the fresh eggs that they’d be able to gather in the process.
If you’re lucky enough, you may even find a fellow chicken keeper willing to take care of your flock. But in that case, you need to take some extra precautions. Namely, you want to provide the chicken keeper with extra footwear near the coop; that way, you’ll avoid any potential cross-contamination between their coop and your own. As an extra precaution you could also leave them a footbath filled with water and bleach near the run entrance.
Once you’ve got someone committed to keeping an eye on your chickens while you’re on vacation; you need to be certain that this person knows what to do before you go. For one, they’ll need to be informed of everything related to the feeding of your chickens. So, in that regard, you’ve got a couple of options. For one, you can opt for the simple option; just fill up the chicken feeder with enough feed to last until you’re back from vacation.
On the other hand, you can also instruct the chicken caretaker in detail on how to feed them. Essentially this means providing them with clear instructions on how much feed to dole out when they come around in the morning. Usually, this would be half a cup of chicken feed per bird each day.
Also, you should make sure that your food stocks are full before you leave. That means, naturally, feed, but also oyster shell and grit for healthy shell development. If your caretaker doesn’t have much experience in taking care of chickens, you don’t really want to leave them with the task of procuring food. Also, all of the different types of food need to be left with clear labels. You’d do best to leave them in clear containers with color coded written labeling to make things as clear as possible. Teach them how to refill the feed dispensers, and tell them exactly how many of the treats they’re allowed to dole out.
If you’ve got the time while you prepare for vacation, we recommend actually printing out or writing a list of treats that are safe for your precious chickens to eat. Leave this for your caretaker as a general guide, and make sure to write out what types of food the chickens aren’t allowed to eat as well. Sure, some watermelon or cabbage is always a safe choice, that’ll be both nutritious to the chickens and a source of hydration. If you can, stock up on these as well before you go. That way, your caretaker will always have something to give to the chicks and keep them busy.
Cleaning The Coop
For those of you who have been keeping chickens in your backyard for a while, we don’t have to tell you just how important it is to maintain a clean coop. So, before you leave, you’ll want to make sure the coop is as pristine as it can possibly be. Do a thorough deep clean, and if you use it, put in some brand new litter. Also, you’ll want to make sure that no pesky insects or dirty rodents are attracted to the coop in your absence.
To that end, you’d be well advised to sprinkle herbs in the chickens’ nesting boxes. These will help keep any unwanted intruders away from the coop. Take some food-grade diatomaceous earth, and sprinkle it all over the floor of your coop. This simple trick will make certain that no lice or mites appear while you’re not there to take care of them.
Apart from that, you should find products that are designed to keep ammonia fumes from chicken waste to a minimum; this can be a major issue during the hot summer months when most people go on vacation. And even as you utilize all of these herbs and materials, it’s a good idea to buy some extra and stock up on them. That way, your caretaker will also be able to dispense them if needed.
Naturally, as with everything else; also leave detailed instructions and containers which are clearly labeled or original packaging.
Doing a Thorough Inspection
Before you go, there’s another thing that you should do; an inspection. More specifically, you need to make sure there are no technical faults related to your run and coop. So, set aside one afternoon for a detailed examination. Take a look at the wooden boards, and make sure none of them are loose or rotten. Also, have a look at the fence wires to see if any have been damaged in any way.
You’ll especially want to check for holes in the fences, or any other items that require immediate repair. This will keep away predators that are lurking beyond your yard, just waiting for the chance to strike at the coop when no-one’s home to stop them.
Veterinarian Contact Info
While we’re on the subject of predators or illness; even if you’ve got the best chicken caretaker in the world, you can’t be certain that something won’t go wrong. And you definitely need to prepare the coop for such an eventuality as well. So, in case an illness befalls your chickens, or predators strike; make sure your caretaker has the contact information of your preferred veterinarian. That way if they notice any symptoms of sickness in the chickens, they’ll be able to contact the vet right away.
Also, if you’ve got friends who are fellow chicken keepers; you may want to leave their phone number with the person taking care of your chickens. While they may not be able to help on a daily basis, your caretaker might not be able to reach you if they’ve got any questions. In that scenario, they’d be able to check in with your friends with a quick question, or indeed an emergency. That’s especially important if your caretaker isn’t used to raising chickens themselves.
Sticking to a Routine
Lastly, there’s one more thing that your chicken caretaker should know: chickens, as with many domesticated animals, are fond of routines. That’s why the person taking care of the coop would do well to establish a routine, every morning and each evening, a couple of days before you’re gone. That way, your chickens will be comfortable with the new person taking care of them, and they’ll be used to the sight of them.