Holiday vacationing and what problems might I be looking at...

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Uzuri, Nov 24, 2009.

  1. Uzuri

    Uzuri Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 25, 2009
    So I'll be away for two nights around the holidays. I unfortunately don't have anyone who I can ask to take care of the chickens in situ due to the fact that my normal cat-sitter has a bad back and I don't want to ask her to deal with the chicken house, as strangely constructed as it is, so I'm looking for a contingency plan. My folks also won't be able to take care of them for various reasons. I don't know anyone else in the area to ask.

    My thought is to cage them in the garage for the two nights. Rooster would go in a small cat carrier (which will make him rather unhappy and uncomfortable, but I'm not sure what else to do for him) and the hens would be split into two groups of three and go into large dog cages. This will allow my cat-sitter to be able to handle them without difficulty and should keep them in warmer quarters and without either the danger of frostbite or going without water due to it freezing.

    If it weren't December I'd just leave them in the coop with lots of water and food for the three days and forget it, but since I'd fully expect frozen water and likely a badly (worse that he's already been) frostbitten rooster from the extra moisture from un-scooped-poop and the waterer and busted eggs from the hens panicking and sleeping in the nesting box due to poor light, I don't think that's wise.

    So what sort of issues am I looking at here? The cages are smaller than ideal and will only give each hen 2 sq ft of space. The garage is secure, so the only critters I think should be an issue would be mice. I expect some picking/stress behaviors -- that's one reason Rooster gets his own cage, he's too big an idiot to squeeze in with anyone else (emphasis on big). Am I going to have reintegration problems after only three days? I expect it to be rather smelly by the time I get back, but I can live with that; garages can be cleaned.

    And can you tell I'm on cough medicine? I've never been so wired in my life. Posting on BYC at midnight :p
  2. fargosmom

    fargosmom Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 27, 2008
    Pasadena, CA
    It would seem to me that keeping your hens in conditions that crowded may lead to aggression between them. I can also think of many things that might happen while you're away. Is there any way for you to find another petsitter? Perhaps your current cat-sitter could refer someone to you. Or if you have a local 4-H club maybe you could get a member to come check the chicks. Or . . . maybe there's a BYC member in your neighborhood who could check in on them for you? I just don't think it's a good idea to leave any critters un-checked-on for more than an over-nighter. Hope you can work this out so you have a worry- and trouble-free trip.
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2009
  3. chookchick

    chookchick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 18, 2008
    Olympia WA
    I second what fargosmom said. Perhaps there is some teenager in your neighborhood that would be trustworthy enough to look in on them and check food, water, etc?...You know--that's not a bad idea--we should have a BYC chickensitting list going...I am already worried about a one week trip in January, and my neighbor across the street, who had chickens before, has volunteered to sit. But it is still worrisome to me.
  4. Uzuri

    Uzuri Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 25, 2009
    If I knew any teenagers that weren't complete juvenile delinquents I'd have my problem solved, but so far as I'm concerned, having someone I don't know check on them is worse than not having them checked on at all. Far worse, especially since if I leave them in their coop and outside there are a million dumb things said unknown person could do to put them in danger, some as simple as forgetting to lock a door. Add that to the fact that I'd be giving said unknown, untrusted person access to my home for three days and I doubt I'd get farther than the end of the driveway before turning back and telling the kid to buzz off. I'm not a trusting person; been bit in the hiney too many times.

    My choices seem to be inside, checked on, and crowded, or outside, not checked on, and less crowded.

    Or staying home. And somehow I don't think it's appropriate to tell your grandparents you're not going to visit for Christmas because of the chickens [​IMG]
  5. bargain

    bargain Love God, Hubby & farm Premium Member

    Apr 13, 2008
    Bowdon, GA
    Post a BSA wanted here and see if you have any BYC'ers near you....I'd try that before putting in garage in small small kennels....

    #2 option get those giant moving boxes from someone of craigslist or freecycle who recently moved and convert them with breathing holes etc....That will give you more space.

    Ask your vet to borrow some large portable kennels if he has some....

    Good luck!
  6. jadeflower999

    jadeflower999 Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 20, 2008
    Vancouver, Washington
    I went online and found different pet-sitting agencies in my area (SW WA.) and most of those companies would take care of my chickens while I'm away. That's my plan for my vacation in Feb. Or maybe you could buy one of those premade chain link dog kennels maybe on craigslist and put them in that in your garage? That way they'd have more room than just the carriers. Or possibly buy a heated water dish and still keep them locked in outside?
    I wish you luck!
  7. Uzuri

    Uzuri Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 25, 2009
    Actually folks, I'm not talking about little dog travel crates, these are big Saint Bernard-sized cages. So if you're envisioning the little green enclosed boxes, I can assure you that's not what I've got [​IMG] They will have room to move around, swap places, and all have access to food or water without anyone being able to be totally blocked from the feeder, they just won't have the 4 sq. ft. indoor space recommended.

    I think I even have a rabbit hutch hanging about in the basement; that would let me split them into 3 groups of 2 and give everyone another square foot or so, assuming that I can find another waterer in the intervening time. How do chickens do with dog-sized bowels of water? Will they just spill it all right off? Keep in mind that I'm also trying not to buy anything new; it's going to be difficult to pay the cat-sitter, let alone get anything extra (thanks to home-insurance company scum and my truck deciding it needed $800 of work). This was not how I'd planned for this trip when I first got them; my expectation was to roll the whole chicken-tractor into the garage, but due to difficulty with the wheels, that's not going to happen [​IMG]

    On having a BYC-er come in: Again, as much as I love getting you folk's opinions here and get plenty of good stuff out of you... not going to let someone I don't know have access to my house while I'm away, no matter how much I love ya all [​IMG]
  8. Hypnotist_Collectr

    Hypnotist_Collectr Out Of The Brooder

    Jun 9, 2009
    NorCal, CA
    We went out of town for 2 nights in a row, and my girls were just fine.
    I kept them in the coop. Made sure to check their water and food before I left. They were realllllly happy about getting out of the coop on the 3rd day... but 2 days overnight wasn't an issue. We hang our food & water & my girls put themselves to bed waaaaaay before it is too dark for them to get into the coop, so mine were fine...
    I have huge vents in the roof of my coop, and we just installed an plastic "glass" over it and the windows, so the sun shines in there in the morning and it is pretty bright, and has stayed pretty cozy in there thus far.

    I'm gonna keep an eye on your post, as hubby wants to go out of town this Christmas & wants to be gone a week, with people checking them twice... I'm not so sure about that one... It's keeping me up nights thinking about it... Our run is super secure, and it doesn't get below 30 here at night, usually... so we were looking at having 3 waterers & 2 feeders, and keeping the run open... but, I am still not happy with that idea...

    I'm thinking of cozying up to my brand-new neighbors. They are a very young couple, and the husband was looking over our fence and making bawking sounds at the chickens, haha... so, I am thinking he might say yes... Free eggs would be an incentive, I'd think? We've only spoken to them once, so I feel funny asking... but, feel worse leaving my little cuties without anyone to check on them...

    I agree about not letting a stranger know how long you'll be gone! Haha. I don't even tell certain neighbors I am leaving, haha.
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2009
  9. elmo

    elmo Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 23, 2009
    I kept a rooster recovering from wet pox in a dog crate with pine shavings in our garage for several days. He did fine. He had food and water in dishes clipped to the front of the cage, and I did check on him several times a day. As he started to feel better, I let him out for a few hours to stretch his legs, but other than that, he managed ok in the crate. Better than ok, actually. He recovered rapidly from the wet pox and is back to normal now.

    I've been bringing my hens inside for the last few nights because it's been so cold and because they are recovering from dry pox. Two hens sleep in a birdcage and the other two have been sharing another dog crate. I was careful to put the top two hens in the pecking order in one crate, with the bottom two hens in the pecking order in the birdcage (to try to avoid fights). This has worked fine for night time because they're just cuddling up and sleeping anyway; I'm not sure how this would work during the daytime.
  10. CMV

    CMV Flock Mistress

    Apr 15, 2009
    I think your birds will probably do just fine, but for future reference you may be able to find a pet sitter through your local vet's office or through any nearby agricultural schools. My friend found her sitter through her local vet and the sitter has been a keeper. Seriously, the sitter takes better care of her animals than she does. My friend comes home from a business trip and all her animals look at her like "Oh, it's you. Where's Bridget? When are you leaving again?"

    It's always good to have a back up plan in place. Good luck and happy holidays.

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