Chickens often needing moving from one place to another, for someone who’s never done it before, it can be quite a daunting task.
Transportation can sometimes cause stress in chickens but the risk is relatively low if you move them quickly, efficiently and quietly. Every 3 or 4 years we replace our current flock with new hens, this is because after a certain period of time (which varies depending on the breed) they stop laying eggs or become very inefficient.
This means transporting them into a new environment, the transition is always smooth and the chickens adjust very quickly.
We found that one of the most important parts of transporting chickens is keeping it quiet. Obviously, there will be some noise when transporting chickens but try to avoid loud cities or places with lots of traffic. Loud noises can cause stress in chickens which can lead to more severe issues so its important that they aren’t exposed too much when being transported as they are already stressed from being moved out of their coop.
Catching the hens
Chickens are quick, there is no easy way to catch them but if they are comfortable around you it is a lot easier. We found the easiest way to get chickens into the transportation containers is to feed them some treats in the run; this gets them all outside of the coop and therefore easier to get a hold of.
The best way to catch a chicken is first making sure they are comfortable with you being in the coop and then casually walk behind them, don’t give them the impression that you’re chasing them but instead you’re occupied elsewhere. Once you get close enough, quickly and firmly get a hold of the chicken from the back with both hands and lift her up. Then place her into the transportation container, this is easier if you have another person to help.
Keeping the environment the chickens are transported in dark is essential, this will ensure that they don’t panic during the journey and hurt themselves. When it becomes very dark, the chickens go into a sleepy state this makes them much calmer and they are less likely to become stressed.
It’s also important that the boxes have good airflow, the hens need to be able to breathe so making sure that there are sufficient breathing holes in the boxes is crucial, you want the holes to be big enough to let air into the boxes but small enough so that they don’t let too much light in.
We also recommend keeping 4 chickens in each container, by having familiar company around them, they’ll be less stressed during the journey and eventually, they’ll settle down and stay calm. Last year we had 12 chickens in our flock that we needed to transport so we divided them into 3 smaller flocks that would go into the storage containers.
Transporting chickens on long journeys is harder, if the chickens are in the transportation boxes for several hours, they’ll need feeding breaks. Its best to take these breaks little and often again to ensure that the chickens don’t become stressed.
Its also important to keep them well hydrated and frequently give them water, this can be a difficult task when transporting chickens. The easiest option we found was to buy a small water dispenser for little birds and secure it into the transportation box, this should be sufficient enough for most journeys but if they finish the water, you just need to re-fill the dispenser instead of trying to give each chicken water individually.
Before you even move the chickens, its good practice to prepare everything at the new location for when the chickens arrive. You want the environment to be similar to their previous home so they feel normal. Moving things that they are familiar with to the new environment will make them feel at home and will mean they will hopefully adjust quickly in their new home.
When we first moved our flock, we took a look at the farm we were taking them, fortunately, a lot of the environment was similar to our coop. There were lots of features to keep the hens occupied and they had the same bark chipping floor as we have in our coop, so when our flock arrived, they felt at home and within a few hours they seemed completely fine.
This kind of fits in with the previous section, making sure that the chickens feel as though they fit in. Whenever we move our chickens, we always make sure that we move them in flocks. This will mean that your hens will be more comfortable as they are surrounded by familiar chickens, this reduces the likelihood of bullying as well, which often happens when one or two birds move into a large flock.
Whenever you change a chickens environment or put it under stress there is always a small risk, but by taking precautions you ensure that your hens have to most stress free journey and environment to move into.
So there you have it, a quick guide on transporting your hens, if you found this article useful then make sure to check out some of our others @easyhens.com
David Cameron is a passionate chicken enthusiast. Growing up, he always wanted to be a veterinarian and loved animals. After graduating from veterinary school, David spent over 40 years as an equine veterinarian. He and his wife retired a few years ago and moved to North Carolina. Here, David’s love of chickens grew even more – he now has 7 chickens and 6 quail. If you have any questions about chickens, feel free to reach out.