How long can I leave my chickens for?
As with all pets, chickens rely on their owners for their safety and wellbeing. But as humans, vacations, spontaneous trips, and other time away from home are inevitable. So how will your chickens manage while you’re away?
Chickens are fairly self-sufficient, and do well when left alone. They don’t have separation anxiety from their owners like some pets experience, and can entertain themselves as long as they have their flock for company. Chickens will also regulate their feed intake and not overeat if free-choice food is left out for them. Still, they are prey animals, and certain considerations need to be taken into account before you take an extended leave of absence – particularly if no one will be staying with them while you’re away.
How long can I leave my chickens alone for?
Every chicken keeper does things a little differently from another, so the amount of time you can spend away from your flock is largely dependent on how you have them setup. Do they free-range, or are they always in a coop and run? Do you have an automatic door to tuck them in at night? Do you leave feed out, or feed them a portion daily?
When you prepare your chickens for your absence, you’ll need to make sure they have access to plenty of food and water. You’ll also need to make sure that they stick to their regular schedule as closely as possible. If they’re accustomed to free-ranging during the day and being closed in at night, you’ll need to have a safe, contained space large enough to simulate free-ranging.
An Eglu Cube chicken coop connected to a walk in chicken run is a great option for chickens that are accustomed to free-ranging, or for flocks that crave space during their time out of the coop. The run can be extended to however large you’d like to make it, so space is never an issue. And with the anti-dig skirting, predators will be deterred from coop-crashing while you’re away!
Give the setup and routine that you plan to have while you’re away a trial run before you leave to make sure everything goes smoothly. If any changes need to be made before you leave, you’ll want to give your flock ample time to adjust. Chickens will adapt quickly, so if your trial run was a success, your chickens should be just fine if you’re gone over the weekend.
Should I get a chicken sitter?
Leaving chickens alone for a day or two is commonplace for most flock-raisers, but if you are gone longer than that, it’s a good idea to have someone come and check on your chickens while you’re away. Depending on the time of the year, chickens can go through their feed and water quickly, and one misplaced step or a visit from some neighborly mice can empty a food or water container in a hurry!
Consider asking a neighbor or a family friend that enjoys chickens to stop by and check in with your hens. A quick glance is often all it takes to ensure your flock is thriving while you’re away. You can always offer for them to take whatever eggs your hens have laid while you’re away as repayment and token of your (and your hens’) thanks!
If you have an automatic chicken coop door, be sure to let your chicken sitter know what time it opens and closes, or ask if they have a preferred time to go and check on your flock. Make sure to reprogram your automatic chicken coop door (if open or close times need to be adjusted) well in advance to get your hens accustomed to a different bedtime if necessary!
What do my chickens need while I’m away?
Food and water
Make sure to fill all of your chickens’ feeders and waterers before you leave. If possible, anchor any free-standing feeders or waterers to the sides of the run or coop to prevent them from being knocked over. Keep waterers sheltered from blowing debris to prevent them from getting clogged.
Prep for different weather
Consider the time of year you are leaving and plan accordingly. Always prepare for precipitation – even if there isn’t any in the weather forecast! Make sure your chicken run cover is on to provide shade and protection from rain.
If your flock is used to daily visits and treats from you, they will likely miss it while you’re away! To head off any treat-pining or fear of missing out on playdates, offer some fun alternatives such as a Chicken Swing or a variety of chicken toys to keep them occupied. To really stay in their good graces, set out some treats in a chicken peck toy or Caddi Treat Holder. Your flock might not even notice you’re gone!
Good to go
With proper preparation and planning, traveling can still be part of your lifestyle when you have chickens. The easiest way to maintain a flexible schedule with chickens is to create a setup that allows for flexibility from the beginning.
It’s always easiest to start off with the ideal setup for your flock so that your future travel plans don’t interfere with their routine. Large chicken coops with walk in runs, automatic chicken coop doors, and weather protection are all components of raising happy and safe chickens – whether you’re home or not!
This entry was posted in Chickens