As an owner of chickens, it is your responsibility to take care of them and make sure they are happy and healthy. If you have professional movers moving your household in an upcoming move, and you will be taking your chickens with you, make sure you make plans to move them safely. Here are some tips for packing and transporting your chickens safely to their new coop.
Pick Proper Moving Crates
Get enough pet moving crates to safely transport your chickens. Depending on the size of the crates, you should be able to fit two or three chickens into each crate. Make sure each chicken has enough room to move around inside the crate.
Wire animal crates, such as dog crates or bunny hutches are the best choice as they have plenty of openings to provide enough air ventilation during the move. If you leave your chickens packed in their moving crates too long without ventilation, they can end up dying during the move.
Prepare each of the moving crates with bedding spread in the bottom of each crate. You can choose pine shavings or straw as bedding, which will provide cushion for your chickens during the move. The bedding will also absorb any chicken droppings, so you want to make sure you have several inches of bedding. Also, pine shavings are a more absorbent bedding material, which will help control any liquid droppings during the move.
Pack Before Sunrise
Select early morning as the time of day you pack your chickens into their moving crates. By packing your chickens before the sun rises, they are not fully awake yet and will still be on their perch. This will simplify your job to collect and place them into the moving crates.
Quietly open their coop and pluck the chickens, one by one, off their roost and place them carefully into prepared moving crates. Place the crates in a shady, well-ventilated area so your chickens don't become overheated while they wait.
Use a Correct Packing Order
Just as your flock of chickens has their own pecking order, you want to use a similar order for packing them. If you have any roosters among your hens, pack the roosters first, beginning with the most dominant, followed by any non-dominant roosters. Then, you can proceed packing each of your hens into their moving crates, packing the most docile hens last. This can help prevent an increase in stress of your chickens, which would cause the more aggressive chickens to peck at other non-aggressive chickens.
Packing in this order will also help your rooster be less stressed. By packing the rooster first, they are not going to react possessively when you catch and pack their hens. Also, if your dominant rooster has a specific hen he prefers to roost next to at night, it is best to place them together into the same moving crate. This will make their ride more comfortable and less stressful. A dominant rooster can react negatively if he sees his favorite hen caged up with other chickens.
Then, when you arrive at your new home, unpack the chickens in the reverse order you packed them. First, unpack less aggressive hens, then more aggressive hens, followed with non-dominant roosters, then the dominant rooster.
Provide Food and Water
It can be helpful to leave treats in the crates for your chickens to nibble on during the move. Juicy snacks for the chickens to nibble on, such as apple slices, cucumbers, or a watermelon, can help with boredom and also prevent dehydration.
Your chickens will be able to survive while traveling in a cool ventilated or air conditioned space without water during the move, so don't place water in their crates during the move. Water can splash into their moving crate and mix with their poop, creating a stinky mess. At each rest stop, every few hours, pour fresh water into a bowl in each of the crates. Your chickens will be able to drink water at these stops, then you can pack up the water until the next stop.
Take a few minutes at each stop to check your chickens for any signs of dehydration. Dehydration may be setting in if you notice a chicken holding its wings out at its sides, a pale comb, or panting with its beak open.
Arrive At Their New Home
Once you arrive at your new home and unpack your chickens into their new coop, lock them in the coop for the first 24 hours with plenty of food and water. This will teach them the new coop is their home, and it will allow them time to become accustomed to it.
Following these recommendations and tips, you can successfully move your chickens to a new home.