Sporadic Travel - can I leave them in coop a few days

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Jakedude, Jan 26, 2017.

  1. Jakedude

    Jakedude New Egg

    Jan 26, 2017
    Tulsa, Oklahoma

    I am a noob and have some noob questions. The better half and I have pondered the idea of raising some backyard chickens for eggs/pets and I have run into a potential deal breaker.

    I travel sporadically as does the better half and we often get little notice or lead time. Also, during the summer we spend many weekends at the lake away from home. I live in Tulsa, Oklahoma in a fairly urban neighborhood, but we do see some animals around from time to time.

    I have been looking at this coop for 4-6 hens:


    Question #1: Can I leave the coop door open at night periodically for a few days and just let them go between the coop/run on their own? If I was going to be gone longer than a few days I could get someone to check on them, but probably only once. I am never gone more than 7-8 days.

    Question #2: Can I leave them 4-6 birds locked in a coop this size for a few days? I would wager if I had a big feeder/water-dispenser would they be ok? Again, if it was going to be more than 2-3 days I would have someone check on them?

    The bottom line is that I won't be able to open/close the coop door every single day and I won't be able to make arrangements for a chicken-sitter every time I am out of town a day or two. It is important to me to make sure that I am taking good care of the birds and treating them humanely.

    On a lake weekend we typically leave Friday afternoon and return Sunday. But we go on a "family vacation" once per summer and leave for a week and I am often gone around Christmas for 3-4 days.

    Any input would be helpful.

    Thank you;
  2. cavemanrich

    cavemanrich True BYC Addict

    Apr 6, 2014
    Melrose Park Illinois
    I looked at the picture and it is a coop only good for about 4 chickens. Maybe a few more if bantams. ALL the manufacturers overstate their capacities. Yes, you can squeeze in even more, but your results will drive you to drinking. [​IMG].
    If you wanted to keep some chickens, and in your circumstance of being away often, yes it can be done. Don't overdo in numbers. I suggest maybe 4 hens to begin . Enclose whole coop in a SECURE run that would be somewhat larger than your coop/run combo. A dog type enclosure with a overhead fencing would do. Provide sufficient feed and water during time away. and all should be fine.
  3. Jakedude

    Jakedude New Egg

    Jan 26, 2017
    Tulsa, Oklahoma
    I much appreciate the advice. Our city ordinances limit me to 6 and that would be the max amount that I would want anyway. I don't intend to eat them, just eggs and when they stop producing eggs just as pets.

    So, if I got something like this:


    But, put a roof on it and secured it with additional chicken fencing, ect., and put a coop inside for approximately 4 birds you think I would be ok?

    When I am home I intend to let them free range in my fully 7' privacy fenced back yard. Its really just during the work day and at night that I want them locked down.

    We could lock them in a pen most days, its just that week or so and a few weekends that has me worried.

    Thank you;
  4. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Flock Master Premium Member

    Mar 15, 2010
    On the MN prairie.

    I would not have more than 4 chickens in that setup, and even that might be pushing it. The run won't keep out even a half-hearted attempt by a predator, and I hate to think about how much heat that little coop would retain in an Oklahoma summer. You'd be much better off building a roomy, well ventilated shed-type coop with a sturdy, attached run. As cavemanrich said, you can always start with a few chickens and add more later. (Bearing mind that even more room is needed for successful integration.)

    ETA - just saw your reply to previous post. Given plenty of room, they should be OK in a secure coop/run setting for several days to a week.
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2017
  5. Spartan22

    Spartan22 Overrun With Chickens

    Sep 2, 2014
    Canton, Ohio
    Hi Jake,

    I too travel a lot in the summer for work bet 3-5 days the most at a time between July & September. You probably need to consider a bigger coop and better yet bigger safe run so they can get in and out as they please, I don't close the pop door between the 2 as long as I know they are safe from predators, which I found out theres plenty (they will come out of the wood work).

    Then there is the logistics of food and water, they need clean water more important than food daily, you probably have to consider nipple watering (fresh longer) and bigger reservoir if you are away that long (3-7 days). I got 3 big waterers (not nipple type), they get dirty pretty quick within 2-3 days so when am home I replace them with fresh water often to avoid diseases. Dropping- poop management is also important, I collect droppings every morning (we got poop boards) as much as possible to keep our eggs clean and to avoid ammonia build up, my wife will collect eggs daily but will not clean poop boards. Hope this help a bit since I can identify with your work travels.
  6. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Chicken Obsessed

    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    Yes, you can leave chickens if you do have sufficient feed and water for a few days. The 10 x 10 dog kennel looks much better than the cute little coop. However, I would attach the coop on the outside, to give your girls more space. Those prefab coops are darling coops, but really only enough space for 2-3 chickens. No where near the number stated. What experienced poltiers will tell you, is that if you keep birds too crowded, they get ugly pecking behaviors, and can peck until they kill one.

    I would recommend looking for a shed, someone wants to get rid of, and decorate it up to fit your yard. Walk in coops are much better in the long run. And bigger coops give you more options on leaving them. I have left mine for a couple of days in a coop/run set up, where they choose when to go in and out. In the heat of the summer, you will want to make sure that there is some source of shade in the late afternoon. Heat can be quite hard on chickens.

    Mrs K
  7. Spartan22

    Spartan22 Overrun With Chickens

    Sep 2, 2014
    Canton, Ohio

    2x on walk-in coops, easy to clean access & no head bumps, my hens get more stressed with heat than cold.
  8. IdyllwildAcres

    IdyllwildAcres Overrun With Chickens

  9. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon

    Heartily second the advice not to go with a pre fab coop like that. I would put maybe 3 birds in there.

    Look for a shed. You'll be much happier, your birds will be happier, things will be nicer all around.

    Since the travel is going to be a regular thing, I'd say make friends with some 4-H or FFA kids. Get to know a few of them, pay them to come check on your birds every day or so while you are gone. Peace of mind is well worth the few bucks you're going to spend.
    2 people like this.
  10. lutherpug

    lutherpug Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 5, 2014
    Kansas City, MO
    I'm in year 2 of the great chicken keeping adventure and I travel a lot as well. It is totally doable but you have to plan your setup carefully.

    100% agree with everyone on the prefab coops. They're too small, poorly designed, and aren't really all that predator proof. Get on Craigslist and look for used coops or a used shed. If you're handy you can modify it yourself, if not you can hire a handyman to make the modifications you need for a reasonable fee. Use the often quoted guidelines for space-3 to 4 sq ft per bird in the coop and 10 sq ft per bird in the run. I'd say this is the bare minimum. I'm pushing these numbers in my coop/run set up with 6 hens and I cannot imagine having more birds in there.

    As far as the traveling is concerned-

    1. You need an automatic coop door. Yes, they're expensive but they're worth every penny. We bought the "Chicken Guard" model. Works great. Runs on its own timer or it has a light/dark sensor. Best $200 spent on the coop. Added bonus of not having to worry about being late to let them out in the morning or rushing home to get them in before dark. Seriously. Best $200 spent.

    2. Water and food supply. There are all kinds of designs for automatic waterers and feeders. For water I use a 5 gallon bucket with horizontal nipples. For food I have 2 PVC pipe feeders. I can fill up the food and water and not check it again for 4-5 days minimum. In the winter I run a stock tank de-icer into the bucket so the water doesn't freeze.

    3. Alluded to above but make sure your coop/run is predator proof. Don't let the yard be the run-give them a secure run that is attached to your coop. It's totally fine to let them out in the yard, of course, but I'd think you'd want a more secure option for when you are traveling, etc.

    My husband and I were in Japan for 11 days earlier this year and we had some friends come by 3 times while we were gone to collect eggs. I think they filled the food up once. We can easily leave for a 3 day weekend without giving a second thought.

    Good luck!
    2 people like this.

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