Instructions for chicken sitter?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by eggspletive!, Nov 19, 2009.

  1. eggspletive!

    eggspletive! Out Of The Brooder

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    We are going to be gone for ten days over Thanksgiving and have arranged for a friend who also has chickens to take care of ours. We are both new to the chicken game, though, so I've got some questions about what to tell her. I want to make it as easy on her as possible without harming the chickens. The chickens are abou three months old, if that matters.

    1) Will they be okay locked inside the henhouse for that long? Three chickens in a 3 x 5 henhouse. They do have a very secure run, so she could leave the chicken door open, but that would mean a draft inside the henhouse at night. I'd like for her to be able to check on them every other day. If she has to open and close the chicken door, that means going over there twice a day.

    2) They have a two-gallon waterer on a waterer heater. What would be the minimum number of times she will need to change the water in ten days? It doesn't tend to get much junk in it but I just got it so I'm not sure yet how long it lasts.

    3) What other instructions would you give a chicken sitter?
     
  2. CMV

    CMV Flock Mistress

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    eggspletive! :

    We are going to be gone for ten days over Thanksgiving and have arranged for a friend who also has chickens to take care of ours. We are both new to the chicken game, though, so I've got some questions about what to tell her. I want to make it as easy on her as possible without harming the chickens. The chickens are abou three months old, if that matters.

    1) Will they be okay locked inside the henhouse for that long? Three chickens in a 3 x 5 henhouse. They do have a very secure run, so she could leave the chicken door open, but that would mean a draft inside the henhouse at night. I'd like for her to be able to check on them every other day. If she has to open and close the chicken door, that means going over there twice a day. They will be fine locked in their house for 10 days. They may not be thrilled about it, but...it's safer in the long run not to leave their coop open at night.

    2) They have a two-gallon waterer on a waterer heater. What would be the minimum number of times she will need to change the water in ten days? It doesn't tend to get much junk in it but I just got it so I'm not sure yet how long it lasts. Waterers have a tendency to leak, as you will discover once you've had it for a while. I'm not sure how fast yours will leak out. I'd have her change the water once a day just for good hygiene purposes. The longest they could go in between water changes is every other day, but I would be really reluctant to go even that long.

    3) What other instructions would you give a chicken sitter?
    Have the sitter glance over your pen each day to make sure no predators are trying to get in- no damaged areas, fresh scratch marks, new holes or signs of fresh digging around perimeters. Check fencing to make sure that it hasn't gotten knocked down accidentally. Look at the chickens each day to make sure they aren't picking at each other out of boredom. Make sure the sitter knows to report any problems to you that s/he may notice.

    You may want to invest in some of those nibbly blocks that keep chickens amused during the winter, or maybe toss a head of cabbage in the coop for chicken entertainment to stave off boredom. Birds that are used to being outside may have a hard time with confinment. The best way to alleviate that is to keep them occupied inside their house. Busy chickens are happy chickens. Have a happy holiday. Good luck.​
     
  3. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    If they're going to be on 24/7 lockdown in the coop it'd be an awful good idea if they could be checked on *daily*. Reason being, a spilled waterer or injuries to each other are much more likely in that situation, and you would really want those things taken care of sooner rather than later-when-there-are-dead-or-dying-chickens.

    One suggestion is to change out all the coop litter just before you go, or add a bunch more if you do built-up litter, and have her throw a handful (make clear what "a handful" is, or leave a small scoop for her!) of cracked corn or scratch scattered into the litter every day. Give them something to prospect for.

    Healthwise, ask her to specifically cast her eye across their tail/lower-back area for missing feathers or blood, where picking often starts; and she should make sure to get a glimpse of each chicken's vent are each day to make sure there is no blood *there* nor signs of prolapse, major diarrhea, nor other bad things.

    Good luck, have fun,

    Pat
     
  4. possumqueen

    possumqueen Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I go with everything patandchickens says, plus one: This is a very good reminder for all of us to have an emergency response plan for when WE can't be home to take care of our pets -- ANY kind of pets!

    Ask yourself: 1)Who can I call on short notice to care for my pets?

    2)Do I have a "user's manual" for the person willing to care for my pets?

    3)Does the user's manual include: where to find the feed bin, and where to buy more feed
    how much food to give to which pets
    how to turn the water on and off
    what to watch for -- signs of trouble
    the name and phone number of your veterinarian
    where I can be reached ANYTIME

    That's just a partial list. You also want to have an agreement with your vet and your feed supplier to allow your caretaker to buy supplies and services to be billed to you when you get home, so your caretaker will not be out of pocket.
     
  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Although my set-up is a different from yours, I am also instructing a new chicken sitter soon. Your post is timely.

    Three chickens in a 3' x 5' should be OK as long as it is a breed that bears confinement well. You are a little above the minimum space recommended. Henderson's Breed Chart will tell you if your breeds bear confinement well as long as you have are pure breeds. If they are sex links they won't be on the chart but will do fine with that space. At three months old they won't be laying, so that takes one complication out, plus they are not fully grown so do not require quite as much space. I really think they will do fine, but it is a change.

    The Henderson chart
    http://www.ithaca.edu/staff/jhenderson/chooks/chooks.html

    I would ask your friend to check on them once a day for all the reasons mentioned. I'm sure you would do the same for her if asked.

    I'd make sure I had sufficient food available. I'd show her how to fill the feeder and waterer so she knows where things are kept and how things work. Explain a bit on how the water heater works. Show her where the light switches are. Make sure she knows how your latches and locks work. I'd clean the feeder and especially the waterer before I left as well as making sure the litter was fairly fresh. I also would make sure she had a phone number where she could reach me in case of an emergency.

    I don't know how you normally manage the poop. If you have a droppings board, that can get pretty piled up. If the poop goes straight on the floor, it can get pretty thick there also. Poop build-up may become a problem, depending on your circumstances. Hopefully you have sufficient ventilation so the ammonia build-up is not a problem. I'd suggest you give serious thought to this aspect. I really like Pat's idea on throwing some scratch in the litter, especially under the roost, to keep things mixed up. It will also help keep them entertained.
     
  6. elmo

    elmo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    We have six indoor birds, and in the past when we've hired a bird sitter, I've given them an aviary log. The log lists in detail each step of caring for the birds on a daily basis. I simply wrote down everything my daughter and I do every day, and included where the supplies are, our emergency contact numbers, etc.
     

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