How To Reduce Stress When Transporting Chickens
Transporting chickens can cause stress and lead to loss of egg production and sometimes worse. Use these tips to help minimize stress when transporting your chickens.
There may come a time when you find yourself transporting chickens. If you are moving to a new residence, packing all your belongings can be stressful to begin with – never mind having to take worry about the birds also. There’s no doubt, a move can be stressful in many different ways. Just like humans – chickens can become stressed. This stress could become potentially lethal for a chicken and adequate measures should be taken to help assure the safety of the flock.
Plan ahead before transporting chickens
Set up their coop at your new location first. If possible, move their original chicken coop so that there is some familiarity for them. Most often, people are so focused on the move itself, they forget that they have extra work to do with setting up a coop. To save some of the added tasks, moving their own original chicken coop is best.
We suggest moving the birds first before household items. Try and get them set up at the new location, make sure they have plenty of food and water and then proceed with moving your belongings.
If you have a dominant rooster, remove him from the flock first. Try to keep him separate from the rest of the flock. The dominant rooster will often try to attack if he feels the rest of the flock is in danger or he may lash out at those he is cage with during transporting.
Once you’ve got them all rounded up and ready to be transported use a secure, flat bottomed crate (dog crates work amazing) with hay on the floor of the crate. You want to make sure they do not slip around. If they are not comfortable, they will stand the whole time and this can cause added stress.
If traveling a long distance, bring a chicken waterer. Do not leave it in the crate, but stop and place it in the crate every hour, let them drink and then remove the water and continue on your journey.
When you’ve reached your destination – give them some time to just sit and observe what’s around them, before unloading or releasing them. This will help them to calm themselves from the ride and to take in the new surroundings. By doing so – the stress within your chickens will decrease and allow your flock to be more manageable when the time comes to release them.
Moving chickens can potentially re-set the pecking order, to help level the playing field, try to put as many chickens into the new coop or location at one time as possible. Putting one bird at a time into the new coop with give them each a sense of dominance one over the other.
Moving chicks or juveniles
If you have to transport chicks, whether to a new location of your own or because you are selling them, be sure to use a box with plenty of holes for air circulation. This is extremely important even if it is cold outside. Simply cover the box with a towel or similar when bringing them to the car.
Line the bottom of the box with a thick layer of shavings.
Keep them warm, chicks up to 1 week old should be kept out of drafts and at least 80°. Chicks over 1 week- 4 weeks can tolerate lower temperature, but not drafts.
Transporting a single bird (or up to 3)
If you are transporting 1-3 chickens, it is a great idea to use as small of a container as possible. Be sure they are not crowded so much they will sit on top of each other. You want them to have enough room to stand up, but not walk around. This will promote laying down which will help reduce stress.
Make sure there is enough air flow. Dog crates are perfect for transporting chickens, totes and boxes can also be used but take care to make sure there is an open top (use wire or cut holes in the cover of the tote).
Reducing stress when transporting chickens is possible, we have actually even had hens lay eggs in transport. We also have tragically lost juveniles due to not enough air flow during a summer transport.
Taking care to transport chickens appropriately will ensure your birds are healthy and minimize loss.