How To Move My Chickens & Guineas Across the Country

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Lady Badlands, Feb 8, 2015.

  1. Lady Badlands

    Lady Badlands Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 5, 2009
    If anyone has had any experience moving their flock, we'd really like your help. What kind of enclosures can we put them in inside of a u-haul? We have 22 chickens and 20 guineas who all live together and are used to one another. How can we get them into the truck? We can drive straight through by changing drivers often, but getting them into the truck, making sure they're safe and comfortable, have water, and make it to our destination is of utmost importance to us.

    Some have suggested we give our birds away and start with new ones in our new home but to us, that would be like giving our babies away. Some of these girls have been with us almost 6 years and we can't let them go. We made a promise to care for them for their natural lives and that won't change.

    My homeopath said to give them one pellet of Aconite shaken up in their water before we go because they will experience shock and Aconite is a great help in that situation. I think they can go without food for less than a day of driving, but we want to put their Chicken fountain in the truck with them so they can have water when they need it.

    I figure I'll cover the bottom of the crates with wood chips and shavings so they're cushioned and we're driving in May, so it shouldn't be hot out yet.

    Thanks for reading this and thank you in advance for any help or ideas.
  2. jtn42248

    jtn42248 Overrun With Chickens

    First, of course, you have to be nuts. But I would at least try to figure out how to do the same thing if I had to move. I fully understand your attachment to your birds. I have never even tried to move mine across the street much less the country so I can only give some very general suggestions.

    First, what is "across country"? Is it from Utah to Calif. or from Maine to Washington state? You may have to have some sort of vet certification as to your birds health when crossing from one state to another. And, driving in May, while it may be nice weather in much of the country, the interior of a trailer being pulled in the sun can get pretty warm. If you are driving across the Southern US then you can also probably expect some pretty warm days, The southern crossings from Arizona to California can easily hit 100 plus degrees in May.

    Your birds are going to be stressed by being put in crates or cages and then to be confined and jostled about for a long period of time you can probably expect to loose some of them in the trip. Be prepared for that.

    As to what to do to calm them for the trip I have no easy solution. They are not like children when you give them a game or a book. There is really very little you can do in that regard.

    When you reach your new home DO NOT let them out right away. Give them time to calm down, restrict them to a coop and run for at least a week so they will acclimate to it being their new home.

    Again, and I hope this is not the case, you will loose some of your flock in the move. I am hoping there are others here at BYC that can give more productive advice or can more convincingly disuade you. But, that said, I wish you the best of luck. Let us know how it turn out.
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  3. FridayYet

    FridayYet Innocent Bystander

    Mar 3, 2011
    The Land of Enchantment
    I moved 4 chickens from CA to NM in a dog crate in the back of my SUV. (About 12 hours, I followed DH who drove the Penske truck.) We stopped about every 4 hours to give some food and water - we didn't leave it open in the crates because we didn't want it to spill all over. You have a much different situation though.

    You could probably put the birds in cardboard boxes with wood shavings and with lots of holes cut in for ventilation. Maybe with a slice of watermelon in each box?? How long is your trip?

    One thing I would worry about is exhaust fumes in the back of a u-haul. There isn't really any ventilation back there and I don't know if the fumes would build up inside and poison them. Maybe if you rented a horse trailer or something with windows it would work.

    Just throwing out some ideas. Good luck on your move!
  4. pdirt

    pdirt Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 11, 2013
    Eastern WA
    I think @jtn42248 is spot on. Lots of things to consider in moving your chickens across state lines, both for your bird's health and legal reasons. There's an avian flu outbreak and some quarantine areas here in WA state and I think in southern British Columbia as well.

    In addition to the actual heat of the location, is to consider the heat inside the U-Haul. It might be 82F outside, but 102F (or even much hotter) inside the truck. Unfortunately, those things don't have any windows that open nor a way to plug in a portable air conditioner. If you are truly driving across the whole country, that will take several days and probably a change of wood chips, because without ventilation, ammonia from the droppings will be sky high with that number of birds, unless you are able to hook up a fan to draw out the fumes during the night, keeping the door wide open. @FridayYet 's suggestion of a horse trailer (a big one) might be even better yet, fresh air all around and far less chance of overheating.

    One possibility is (probably not one you want to hear) is to reduce your flock size before the move. 42 birds not meant for the slaughter house is going to require a lot of space, even in crates. Are you moving them all in one U-Haul? Or are you moving your personal items also in the same U-Haul? Don't know about you but our last move was across the state and required the largest truck we could rent without needed a CDL license (and we're just a couple with a dog, no kids). We had actually thought about starting a 25-bird flock just before we moved...oh wow, how grateful I am that we nixed that idea!

    In any case, please update us with what you decide to do and how the move turns out. Good luck!
  5. howfunkyisurchicken

    howfunkyisurchicken Overrun With Chickens

    Apr 11, 2011
    I made a 500+ mile move last year (from VA to TN), certainly not cross country, but far enough with all of the critters we brought with us. We had to move 2 dogs, 2 cats, a rabbit and 5 chickens (the ones I couldn't part with, I had more than 80 before I reduced them down to 5). The dogs rode in the truck, the cats, rabbit and chickens were in the back of a horse trailer. We made our move in December, so heat wasn't a problem for us. I put the chickens and rabbits in a large, double side hutch (each had their own side, the trailer was just wide enough for it to fit) and the cats traveled in another hutch I usually use as a brooder, both were padded out with lots of straw. I used rabbit drinkers and feeders for both hutches to provide feed and water throughout the entire trip. The chicken side had a nest box I didn't expect them to even use, but I did have an egg in there when everyone finally made it.
    My biggest piece of advice is to expect the unexpected. Halfway through our trip, the tire on my husbands truck literally flew off (he was pulling the trailer with my precious animals inside, I was following behind in my car). We ended up having to leave him there in the parking lot of a motel until he could fix the tire, and I packed the 2 dogs and my 2 kids into my car. He, the chickens, rabbit and cats finally made it a full day later, luckily all safe and sound, alive and seemingly none the worse for wear.
    I can see a lot of problems arising from trying to move a flock the size of yours long distance, so I'd also recommend whittling them down to your favorites. Maybe enough hens and a rooster, and a quad of guineas so you can start over from your own birds when you get to your destination.
    Anyway, best of luck to you. It's going to be stressful for everyone all the way around. All you can do is load them up and hope everything goes as planned.
  6. HighStreetCoop

    HighStreetCoop Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 28, 2014
    Oakland, CA
    My Coop
    Maybe you can rent/buy the plastic poultry cages they move commercial birds in? I see them on trucks all the time around here, bombing down the freeway.
  7. Lady Badlands

    Lady Badlands Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 5, 2009
    Wow, I'm overwhelmed and incredibly grateful for all of your thoughts and advice for our situation. While whittling down the size of the flock might make it easier to accomplish, I just don't trust that anyone would take care of my babies like we do. We have some wonderful Amish families nearby that would definitely take our baby guineas (only three months old), but they've never had them before and I think they might not survive. I've had them in a brooder box in my house until they were big enough to go into their side of the chicken coop where we've been lovingly raising them since November. I don't know if I can bear to hand them over as I know they won't live long.

    We only have 22 chickens (2 of which are wonderful roosters). Then we have 8 adult guineas who are total buds with the chickens. So there are three groups--the chickens, the 8 adult guineas, and 12 baby guineas that we've just integrated into the adult group. My heart breaks even thinking about reducing this flock so I think, at this in this moment, that we'll continue with our plan to move them.

    BTW, we're going from SD to NC--a tad less than a thousand miles. We can make it in 24 hours if we rotate drivers. I hear you about fumes from the U-Haul. I was thinking of propping the door on the back open a bit for air, but I think fumes would come into the inside. I've heard that it's harder to get horse trailers across state lines as they're so recognizable and there are laws in this regard. My chickens are beyond healthy. They eat only organic feed and scraps plus they drink purified water. The grasses they graze in have never had chemicals on them. My intention is always to keep their coop clean and their food the best I can. So as far as avian flu, not a chance on my end. They never come into contact with carriers of those diseases. They will be moving to a remote area again, with no chance of coming into contact with other birds than the ones that are wild.

    The whole crossing state line stuff seems a bit silly unless one is letting their birds loose instead of just driving straight through. But maybe I'm missing something.

    The hardest part for me to ponder is getting all the birds into whatever mode of transport we use. I was thinking of having my husband build a chute that goes from inside the coop to the vehicle. I certainly don't want to have to try and pick them up one by one and don't want to scare the heck out of them that way. I know I could move the chickens after dark, but the guineas seem to stay well aware after dark and start squawking to warn the others. They would be impossible to capture without enormous stress on both ends. I like the chute ideas as we can have several people walk behind them to urge them to enter.

    If anyone has any further thoughts on this, I'd be incredibly appreciative. Thanks so much for your sharing!

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