As chicken keepers, we all know the joy that comes from having a flock of happy and healthy hens. But even the most dedicated of chicken keeper deserves a break every now and then. So how do you ensure your flock are taken care of your absence? We will explore some tips and tricks for keeping your flock happy while you’re away. From finding a trusted chicken sitter to providing plenty of entertainment, we’ll cover everything you need to know to give your chickens a vacay of their own.
Assess your options for keeping your flock happy and cared for
1. Chicken boarding and “hennels”
Chicken boarding is the poultry equivalent of taking you dog to the kennels while you go away. Though rather than kennel, most chicken boarders call themselves “hennels” or “hen hotels”. The benefit of opting for a hennel is that you know your flock will be looked after by experienced chicken keepers. Their conditions will be hygenic and they’ll be protected against predators – and kept away from other flocks to prevent disease transmission. They’ll not only be fed, watered and exercised but the people who look after them will be chicken-savvy and be able to recognise if your flock are unwell or distressed.
2. Pet/house sitters
If you have a large flock, or you’re worried about how your chickens will handle being transported and moved to an unfamiliar location, you can always opt to keep them where they are and draft in help. The rising popularity of domestic chickens as pets means that now there are plenty of house or pet sitters with direct poultry care experience. There are many types of arrangements, including those who stay at your house for the full duration to keep an eye on your beloved flock, to those who pop in multiple times a day to feed and check on your flock. Having someone there overnight can help with peace of mind regarding nocturnal prowling predators.
3. Friends with henefits
If a formal arrangement like the above two options are out of your budget, then you can often call on friends or neighbours to help look after your flock while you’re away. Friends and neighbors who are familiar with chickens can be a great resource. They may be willing to check on your flock daily, feed them, and collect the eggs. It’s important to provide clear instructions and make sure they feel comfortable handling the chickens. You can also offer to reciprocate the favour when they go on holiday.
4. Leaving the flock home alone
If you’re only going away for a few days, it’s possible (though not recommended) to leave your chickens with automatic feeders and water dispensers. It’s always best to have someone on hand to cater to their basic needs and make sure they’re safe and well. But, you do you, boo.
How to find a local hennel/chicken boarding facility in the UK
1. Research online:
Start by searching online for hennels or chicken boarding facilities in your local area. Look for facilities that have positive reviews and a good reputation. Websites like Yelp or Google reviews can be helpful in finding customer feedback on different hennels.
2. Skip the legwork and use our handy directory feature – ECOnnect!
We have a list of hen boarding facilities in the UK, and you can search by region or town! Head over to ECOnnect and click on the “Chicken Boarding Directory”.
3. Ask for recommendations: Reach out to other chicken keepers in your area and ask for recommendations.
They may have personal experiences with local hennels and can provide valuable insights.
4. Many breeders also offer boarding facilities.
Check with the breeder you got your hens from – it’ll be like a little trip back to their first home!
How to prepare for your hen’s holiday
1. Prepare clear, written instructions for whoever is looking after them. Include details about their diet, any medications or supplements they need, what to do with fresh eggs, and any specific behaviors or signs of distress to look out for.
2. Make sure your flock has access to fresh food and water before you leave. Consider setting up automatic feeders and waterers to ensure they are consistently provided for while you’re gone. Stock up on their complete feed and make sure your caretaker knows where to get more in case of any incidents.
3. Clean and tidy up their living space before you go. A clean coop and run will not only help prevent the spread of disease but also provide a more comfortable and enjoyable environment for your chickens.
4. If you have any special treats or toys that your flock enjoys, leave them out for the caretaker to give to your chickens. This will help keep them entertained and mentally stimulated while you’re away. But, make sure they know all about how to give chickens a balanced diet, and don’t overfeed treats.
8. Health check. Before you leave, give your chooks a thorough health check. Look for signs of illness, injury, or parasites. Treat any issues that you find, and make sure to leave instructions for the caretaker on how to handle any ongoing health concerns.
5. Register with a vet and have their details handy for your chicken caretaker – acting fast with chicken health issues can make all the difference.
6. Secure the coop and run. Check that the coop is secure and predator-proof before you go. Repair any holes or weak spots in the fencing or coop structure. Lock all doors and windows tightly to prevent any unwanted visitors.
7. Entertainment and enrichment. Chickens can get bored easily, so it’s important to provide plenty of entertainment and enrichment to keep them occupied while you’re away. Scatter treats or hang a cabbage or other vegetables for them to peck at. Provide toys, such as hanging mirrors or hanging balls, to keep them entertained. And a few Calci Worms also go a long way to ensure your flock stay entertained – why not take out a weekly subscription so your hen sitter doesn’t run out of their favourite treat?
8. Plan for extreme weather. If there’s any potential for heatwaves or cold snaps, make sure your flock is prepared. Provide extra shade or ventilation in the coop for hot weather, and add extra bedding and insulation for cold weather. Leave instructions for the caretaker on how to handle any weather-related issues that may arise.
8. Keep in touch. While you’re on holiday, it’s a good idea to stay in touch with the caretaker of your flock. Regularly check in to see how things are going and address any concerns or questions they may have.
9. Finally, don’t forget to thank whoever is looking after your flock. A small gesture of appreciation, such as a gift or a heartfelt thank you note, can go a long way in showing your gratitude for their help.
Going on holiday doesn’t have to mean sacrificing the well-being of your beloved flock. By following these tips and ensuring that your chickens have proper care and attention, you can rest assured that they will be happy and healthy while you’re away.
By following these steps, you can truly enjoy your holiday knowing that your feathered friends are in good hands. So, go ahead and book that trip, relax, and recharge, knowing that your flock will be well-cared for and eagerly awaiting your return. Happy travels!
What are your top tips for holiday chicken care? Can you recommend any hen boarding facilities we haven’t listed in our chicken boarding directory?