The summer holidays are gradually coming to an end, but for many across the UK, there is still time to squeeze in a week or two away in the sun.
Whether you are jetting off to sunnier climates, relaxing by the pool or on an adventure trek, sharing quality time together and forgetting about the day to day worries of life is the perfect antidote to the norm.
If you are a chicken owner, or in fact an owner of any pet, then there is the added complication of organising who is going to look after your flock, which can sometimes make the holiday season seem little more than a pipedream. When it comes to the girls, it’s important to have peace of mind that the doors to the coop are secure to keep out predators, they are being regularly fed and watered and have the freedom to run around during the day.
Here are some handy tips on how you can have the best of both worlds – a holiday and happy feathered friends:
1 – Plan ahead
Chickens are not high maintenance, but they do need attention each day, to ensure they are fed, that eggs are collected and to provide fresh water. So, it is worth planning ahead to make sure everything runs smoothly while you are away.
2 – Phone a friend
Enlist the help of a friend or neighbour who can pop by to make sure your flock are fed and have clean water each day. You will need to explain how much feed to give them each day (as a rule of thumb, half a cup of feed should be enough for each hen). If the person looking after your flock is another chicken owner, make sure you provide them with footwear when they attend your flock, to avoid cross-contamination. To be doubly sure, it might be worth preparing a bleach water footbath.
3 – Cleaning the coop
If you are away for more than a week, your chickens will need cleaning. You don’t want a fowl mess to come back to and for mother nature to take its course whilst you are away. Show whoever is looking after your flock how to replace bedding and clean away droppings. Also make sure they keep an eye out for signs of green algae and keep the water drinker clean.
4 – Cover all bases
Before you go, make sure that your chicken sitter has the contact details for your vet. Make sure they also have access to your Chicken First Aid Kit, just in case the worst should happen.
5 – Ensure there is an adequate supply of feed in stock
Make sure that you have stored plenty of chicken feed before you leave; you don’t want your flock to go hungry whilst you are lapping up the sunshine! Make sure that feed is stored in containers which are rodent-proof and not susceptible to the vagaries of the British weather. Label each container to avoid any confusion for whoever is looking after your flock – and leave clear instructions on how to refill any dispensers.
6 – How to avoid over-heating
If the weather forecast is for hot conditions whilst you are away, consider moving the coop into the shade. Add additional water dispensers and perhaps a small pool of water where your pampered flock can stand and cool down. Make sure whoever is tending to them remembers to re-fill the pool with fresh water.
7 – Invest in a ChickenGuard door opener
The use of a ChickenGuard door system will give you peace of mind on holiday and will make life a lot easier for your chicken sitter. The doors will automatically open and shut and are secure to ensure no nasty surprises with hungry predators. Your chicken sitter will not have to be up for when the cock crows, as doors can be programmed to open automatically on a timer.
8 – Sticking to routine
Lastly, it is worth ensuring that your chicken minder can swing by your home in the morning and in the evening if possible, so that your flock can become familiar with them and stick to as much as possible to their usual routine. It also gives you that extra sense of reassurance that they are safe and sound and being monitored.
Preparation is vital to ensuring you have happy hens but should not be too eggsacting. The above tips should allow you to pack your sun cream and flip flops and look forward to returning to a happy clucking coop.
That said, we’d love to hear your own ideas and tips on what to do with your chickens when you are going on holiday. Please feel free to get in touch on our Facebook profile.