If you are planning to move to a new home and you have a flock of chickens, be sure to make all necessary preparations to move them to their new home. Chickens can easily become stressed or overheated, both of which will affect their health. Here are some tips to help you prepare and safely move your chickens and get them settled in.
Selecting Moving Containers
Choose moving crates for your chickens that are well-ventilated and provide enough space as to not crowd them during the move. One chicken owner recommends using a Pullman crate that is four feet long and segmented into four compartments. Providing approximately a one square-foot area for each chicken is enough to move them safely. You can also use plastic or wire metal pet carriers filled with a layer of pine shavings.
If you do not have access to any commercial carriers, you can use cardboard boxes. Make sure you cut out plenty of openings for air flow to be consistent inside the box because cardboard can retain heat easily.
See to Your Chickens' Comfort
If you are planning to drive more than a couple hours to your new home, plan to stop every 100 to 200 miles to check on your chickens and give them fresh water to drink. At every stop check each chicken for any signs of heat exhaustion. Heat exhaustion signs can include a chicken holding its wings away from its body, a pale-colored comb, or visible panting. If you find any signs of heat exhaustion, place the chicken in a well-ventilated, cool, shady spot and give them cool water to drink.
Be sure to cover the bottom inside of the crates with pine shavings to help cushion them during the travel and to help the chickens feel comfortable and minimize stress. Also, provide treats that have a high water content for your chickens while you are traveling, as water left in their carriers will spill during travel. Leave foods in the chickens' traveling containers for them to munch on, such as watermelon slices, cucumbers, and apple slices, which help keep them hydrated between stops.
Pack Up Your Chickens
The time of day you pack your chickens into their crates can affect their stress levels. Chasing around and grabbing each chicken to put them into their crates during the day can heighten their stress and cause them to injure themselves or one another. And when their stress increases, this can lower their immunity, which can allow a dormant illness to emerge and cause a sickness. Try crating your chickens while they are still roosting and asleep in the early morning to avoid added stress.
The order in which you pack up your chickens can also affect their stress level. If you have a dominant rooster, pack that one first, followed by any non-dominant roosters. Then, you can pack up any hens. This will prevent the rooster from attacking you or other chickens if they wake up and see you disturbing their hens. Also, pack the roosters into separate moving containers to prevent any fights. If your moving containers allow space for multiple chickens, be sure to place hens with other hens that normally roost together at night.
After you have packed your chickens into traveling crates, place the crates in an area that is not subjected to high temperatures or direct sunlight, and receives good air flow. Your chickens are able to survive a few days without food or water, but a hot, sunny location without good air flow can kill your chickens quickly.
Introduce Your Chickens to Their New Home
At your new home, make sure your chickens have nesting boxes, a roost, food, water, and a coop for protection from the weather. Try to set this up before the move or quickly set it up while the chickens wait in a cool,shady area. Then, unpack the chickens in reverse order, unpacking the hens first, followed by the non-dominant rooster, then the dominant rooster last.
Keep the chickens inside their new coop with food and water for the first 24 hours. This will get them comfortable and used to their new home, and to help them learn where to roost, nest, and to find their food and water.
These tips can help make any move with chickens less stressful and more safe. Contact a professional moving service like Bekins Van Lines Inc for more information or assistance.