How to lessen moving stress . . .

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Whitewater, May 27, 2010.

  1. Whitewater

    Whitewater Songster

    Jan 18, 2010
    So, Hubby and I are going to pick up our 3 Black Australorp pullets at the end of June, when they'll be 16 weeks old (or perhaps just a few days shy of 16 weeks). The farm where they're living now is about 35 minutes north of us, hardly any freeway, a nice calm, virtually traffic-free ride. It's pretty too, but somehow I don't think our young ladies are going to care about the view!

    We'll be taking them from a quiet hobby farm with a good 2 dozen other hens and a couple roosters, lots of free-ranging (no fences, they have a coop that's open during the day if they want to go back in), no other animals, and a pretty rural area, to our home, which is, well, different.

    We're very urban, very noisy comparatively, lots of activity (especially in the alley behind us), and we have two dogs (which our pullets won't have experienced before) but no other animals. We have built our girls a nice 30 square foot (6x5) covered, fenced run along with a nice (if I do say so myself!) 18 square foot coop (6x3), and we plan to let them roam our small but fenced backyard most of the day (I'm a more-or-less stay at home wife, so I can do that), but. . .

    Is there anything we can do for our young trio to lessen the (inevitable, one would assume) shock of moving from one home to another that's so different? The plan right now is to take each of them home separately in those cardboard transportation kennels you see adopted cats and the like go home in -- I mean, one kennel per bird, not 3 separate trips -- (we can get them at PetSmart for pretty cheap), keep the radio off in the car when we drive home, and put them in their coop/run (in the coop bit, they can walk down the ladder -- also a new thing -- if they want to, to their run), then hang around for a while to make sure they're eating and drinking and not freaking out about their change of circumstances.

    Do chickens get car sick? Can they throw up? One of my Standard Poodles *always* throws up her first time in a new car!

    Is there anything we can do to help our birds over the transition? Or am I overthinking this because chickens don't even care or notice when they go somewhere new?


  2. digitS'

    digitS' Songster

    Dec 12, 2007
    ID/WA border
    Whitewater, you are probably stressing out nearly as much as the chickens will. But, that's okay -- shows that you care about their comfort and composure. They will probably do better because of your concern.

    I will suggest that you think seriously about timing so that they arrive while it is dark. Or, keep them in the car (1 step at a time) until it is nearly dark before moving them to the coop. Of course, provide them with adequate ventilation.

    If you have a safe coop, and I'm sure you do, they will be relatively comfortable no matter where they crouch down to spend the night. The sun coming up the next morning will help them get an slow introduction to their surroundings. Chickens may not react quite the same to darkness as we do -- "higher" animals, that we are. Certainly, they can't see well in low light situations.

    Active "introductions" conducted by you may not be helpful. You may want to "introduce" your dogs to their new neighbors but you know your dogs better than anyone. If there is going to be a lot of bouncing around and barking, you have to put a stop to that! Make sure the chickens have a place to hide. They aren't going to react like a new puppy. Their first responses won't be to make peace or showing curiosity -- they will just be interested in "getting away!"

    Leave the chickens alone for the first few days except for attention to their water and food needs. They ARE naturally curious but you won't realize that for the first day or so. Allow them to become completely comfortable to the safety of just a few square feet at a time.

    Here's wishing you the best of luck and I don't think that there's much "luck" needed [​IMG].


    BTW - I've only seen a chicken "throw up" once. It didn't have anything to do with motion sickness (imagine what sleeping in trees on windy nights would be like if that was a problem). The apparent nausea was a result of a good deal of obvious stupidity on the part of young rooster on a very hot day. He had finally found where the water was. He was a new introduction also. The lesson learned was you need to make the "introduction" to a new waterer as simple and obvious as possible for the bird-brains [​IMG].
    Last edited: May 27, 2010
  3. digitS'

    digitS' Songster

    Dec 12, 2007
    ID/WA border
    I'm going to jump back in here and say something about introducing new chickens to foraging in your backyard:

    Don't you dare let them out during the first few days!! Your job as a chicken-keeper shouldn't have anything to do with racing around the neighborhood, through your neighbor's backyards - chasing your young pullets!

    And, don't let them out until the dogs and chickens are, at least, ignoring each other thru the fencing.

    It may take a couple of weeks . . . then, open the gate just before they customarily head into the coop to roost. If they don't get more than 2 feet from the gate that first afternoon, that's okay. If only 1 pullet comes out to peck at the grass for a few minutes, that's fine. She will be interested in doing that again.

    Keep the introduction to foraging restricted to late afternoon for quite awhile. You may want to ALWAYS restrict foraging to the late afternoon. My chickens don't even bother me about getting out in the morning. They know - it is NOT going to happen. Besides, they should be busy paying for room & board during the mornings. And, I am not a person who is interested in searching the backyard for hidden nests of eggs.

  4. feathersnuggles

    feathersnuggles Songster

    Sep 4, 2009
    If your birds know each other, if they are part of the same flock... I'd consider putting them into a big enough kennel (with straw) together for the trip. They will find comfort in huddling together. Birds are flock creatures, they don't do well alone. Make sure the temps don't go too high during the trip, drape a towel over the kennel so they don't see too much "flying by" on the ride home.

    Once you're home, take the kennel to the run/coop and open it up but don't force them out. They'll probably stay in the kennel for a while, together, huddled up. When they venture out, take one of them (whoever is easiest to handle) to the water dish. The rest will get their cues from that.

    If the farmer is feeding them some specific feed, ask him for a gallon ziplock of it, so that you can give them the same thing for the first day or two - mixing it into your new food if that's the case.

    I'd keep them in the run/coop for about a week, until they are accustomed to all the noises and dogs in your urban setting. Then open the door to your yard, when you feel they are ready to venture out.

    My birds are ALWAYS ready to free-range, as early in the a.m. as I can let them out. They are out in the yard, 6 hours or more each day.
  5. Neilette

    Neilette Songster

    Apr 18, 2010
    Seattle, WA
    [​IMG] Great responses! That's going to help my next batch of hens coming home!

    Even though I'm new, I have to emphatically agree with introducing birds at night. That was, by far, the smoothest chicken-coop-flock introduction I've had yet, in my swapping-in-and-out-and-adding-and-subtracting chicken experience. Plus, there's no question of "Where to roost at night?". And, as a dog trainer, I'd encourage you to give the birds a good week to settle in, THEN introduce each dog, individually, on leash, at a distance. First impressions are very important. If you're going to set rules like "Thou shalt not get overexcited and eat the delicious chickens" then your best bet is 100% consistency from the start. Rewards for ignoring chickens, time-outs for "over-excitement".

    Luck! [​IMG]
    Last edited: May 27, 2010

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