Post written by Chris Lesley from Chickens And More.
There’s a lot to remember when you’re preparing to leave for vacation. You need to buy plane tickets, set up an itinerary, and pack before you can be on your way. If you have pets that will be staying at home, you also have to figure out how they will get the proper care they need while you are away.
For some pets like dogs or cats traveling with you isn’t too difficult, but caring for backyard chickens while you are away will require extra intuitive planning.
Of course, you can travel with your chickens – have you heard of the sailing hen Monique? Here are six things that you may not have considered about vacationing away from your chickens.
Asking Friends to Help
For most people, asking a friend to come watch your chickens is the first thing that comes to mind. However, this should not be your go-to option. Caring for chickens is a really big task to take on, especially if your friend has no experience with it.
Ask yourself these questions before you ask your friend to watch your flock:
● Can they come by twice a day to open and close the coop, and feed the chickens?
● Are they willing to wake up right at dawn to open the coop, and can they close the coopright at dusk?
● Do they have a long commute?
● Do they know how to clean the coop?
If your friend is an early riser who lives close by, then go ahead and ask them to look after your flock. If not, it would be best for you, your friend, and your chickens to consider a different way to care for your chickens.
Get Automated Coop Doors
Automated coop doors are an amazing new technology that provide a convenient way to tend to your flock while you are away.
With an automated door, you no longer need a friend to stop by twice a day while you’re gone, and it can even help you out when you get back from your trip.
Some benefits of automated coop doors are:
● They can be programmed to open/close at a set time.
● Most have safety sensors so they won’t close when a hen is underneath it.
● There are many options on the market that allow you to fit your specific needs. If you want to construct it yourself? Go for it! If you want an all-in-one kit that’s easy to install,
you can do that too!
Automated doors will cost you money, but keep in mind that you can use them any time, not just when you’re on vacation.
Install Automated Feeders
Just like coop doors, you can set up an automatic feeding system while you are away. For watering, automated doesn’t have to mean electronic.
Nipple drinkers are a really great, non-electronic option that allow your chickens to drink just by touching it. This eliminates the need for open tubs or bowls, which frequently get dirty.
There are also non-electronic options for feed like this one, but there is a risk that your chickens will overeat with many of these. Preset electronic feeders may be a better option for feeding your chickens.
Invest in Good Lighting
Proper lighting is needed to sustain egg production. Leaving the lights on the whole time you’re gone is very expensive and would provide too much light, but you also leave them off the whole time either. Fortunately, lights can be automated as well.
Some options are completely battery- operated, and some can be solar-powered. Solar power is a great option if you want to save money on lighting, while still ensuring healthy egg production.
Use Your Phone to Check on Your Chickens
There’s an app for everything, including checking on your chickens while you’re away. Depending on what app you get, you can feed the flock, water the flock, open and close the coop, and control the lights all from your phone.
Or, if you just want to see how they’re doing with your own eyes, you can install a webcam that can be accessed on your phone. To do this, you just need to ensure your devices are wi-fi compatible and test that it works before you leave.
Consider the Weather
Even if you’re vacationing on a sunny beach in the Caribbean, you need to plan for the weather back home. During the winter, automated doors and feeders can malfunction, the water supply can freeze, and the temperature can drop too low in the coop.
If you’re not vacationing during winter, this will be less of a concern, but if you are you need to have a backup plan ready. As stated before, it is wise to use a webcam that connects to your phone in order to check that everything is working as intended. If something does go awry, you may want to call a friend.
Even though recruiting friends isn’t always the best option, the health and safety of your flock is vital to take care of, under any condition. Chickens need care every single day, whether you’re on vacation or not. Hopefully, these options will make your holidays without your chickens less stressful and easier, and will even help you when you get back!