Travelling With Chickens?


Aug 5, 2010
Olympia, Washington
Okay, so this is going to be a copy / paste from an Email I sent to someone else, and I don't even know if I'm posting this in the right section, but it seemed an appropriate thing to put under "flock management"...

Well, I should probably firstly put forth that I DO NOT agree with a lot of traditional farm-mentality chicken raising. However, that is because I have the time and energy to expend on my chickens as pets. For someone owning a farm and using chickens as production, a lot of farm-based advice is wonderful, but since I have that extra hands-on time with my chickens I used a much more pet-mentality with them. I DO NOT spoil them, however. They are still animals, and if an emergency struck, they are a food source. That being said, here is the Email I wrote:

The scenario is this: I own chickens as pets. My Rhode Island boy, Bo, is my support animal - he has a certain noise he makes when I'm about to have a panic or anxiety attack that is unlike any other noise he makes. He also rides the handlebars of my bike, and makes this noise while I'm riding so that I pay attention to him instead of whatever I'm thinking about that's making me anxious. The others are his sister, Faust ( both of their mothers were Blackstars, Faust's father was a Welsummer, and Bo's a Rhode Island Red ), Eddie, Ziggy ( both Ameraucanas ), and the "tiny cock" as my friends call him, Bowser ( Dutch Bantam mutt ). Sometime soon, I'm guessing less than a month, I will be homeless. I would really like to bring my chickens with me, though. I figured three would be an ideal number, as that way if I ever needed to take one with me and leave the others behind, no one would ever be left alone, and the one I take with ( likely Bo ) will always have another chicken to come home to since I know it's important for them to have other chickens in their lives. However, if I were to get rid of one in my flock of four, it would likely upset the balance of the flock, and four is a good number, anyway. Once all of my other chickens were adopted away, I was stuck with Bowser, who gets along with the four larger chickens ( I used to have a bantam flock that Bowser was a part of, but he often meandered over to mingle with he standard flock ), and being a rooster of his breed, I feel unsafe giving him up due to the high prevalence of cock fighting in this area, and I would absolutely hate for that to be the fate of my wonderful little boy. On top of that, he is so much smaller than the rest he requires much less feed, and the environment here ( western Washington ) is stock full of good plants and bugs for these guys to forage once we get out on the road and start picking stuff up.

They are all harness and leash trained, and they are all comfortable travelling in a kennel and by bike. They are all used to being handled and exposed to new situations - they take a moment to look at my reaction, and react accordingly. They all look up to me as "head chicken", follow me around, feel safe with me around, and the roosters only crow when I'm not around or they're out of food or water. They are trained to drink out of water bottles that can be hooked up to the kennel during travel, and they all catch on to new activities pretty quick. I am a professional chicken trainer, so I feel like I have psychology pretty well down, but I have only been owning chickens for about two years, so I don't feel like I have all of the knowledge of the world, especially as far as illnesses, behavioural problems, and ideal living conditions go. I can certainly correct a behavioural problem, and I can observe what a chicken is telling me about its feelings about its current living conditions, but I don't yet know the root of every behavioural problem, nor the things I should be looking out for as far as health and illness. I am pretty spectacular at mending wounds, though - I've at least got that on my resume!

The question: Anyway, I know my question is probably pretty unconventional, and I'm probably going to copy / paste this onto as well, but the root question here, I guess, would be... When taking chickens travelling, camping, or anything of that sort... what sort of things should I be looking out for? What is the best portable "coop" I could give them? Due to my hands-on interaction with my chickens, I have never had issues with them needing total darkness or the typical needs of a coop, but they do need something to perch on or they start to get sores on their feet and ankles. Is there anything in the Pacific Northwest that I should be really, really worried about them eating or getting into? I am not opposed to eating them if I cannot find a good home for them, and I notice their quality of life taking a turn for the worse, but they are all young ( Bo is the oldest, turning a year last Thanksgiving ). Just any tips, tricks, advice... anything would be great. I'd especially love to hear from someone who's done this or something like it before! I know SOMEONE has - I was inspired by a photo of someone with a chicken in a kennel attached to the back of a bike.
I remember a newstory of a man touring Europe with a rooster on a leash. The hotels were very cordial. (small local hotels not the American chain hotels).

There is a story on Youtube of a couple walking from Florida to Mexico through Central america on down through Peru. They picked up a stray kitten around Mississppi I think who lived in their back pack and grew up on the trip. They posted ongoing Youtubes and later on their website when it caught on. They are European, forget which country.

He even fixed a small umbrella to his backpack to cover the kitten/cat. The main thing they had to watch out for was dogs.

Animals and pet chickens bond to their people, not the place. Their astral selves hang out in your aura. Thats how you know what they are thinking or needing, and they know what you are thinking - and your case, of an anxiety attack coming on. Also explains chicken addiction by the way - to break the chicken addiction, kick them out of your aura. I had it bad and that fixed it.

I drove from Seattle area to Montana and up the Alcan highway up to Alaska with my cat. The thing I noticed to watch for is in the campgrounds in the US. The campground personnel spray liberal amounts of weedkiller all over. The barrel is on the back of a pickup and is sprayed sideways in massive amounts, looked like thirty feet. I got sick from it. When I crossed into Canada I noticed I didn't get sick in the campgrounds. Asked the Canadian campground personnel and they said they are forbidden from spraying weedkiller because it is so toxic to people (and chickens). I also ran into these weedkiller sprayers from Olympia out to Aberdeen on the coast.

My cat played around the campfire and nearby bushes. Slept in my tent with me. Traveled fine except for the high heat we met in Eastern Washington. 100 degrees. She went into real distress. The windows open and wind from driving didn't help her, made her worse. I had to fill a big metal washbasin with water and a big bag of ice cubes. She snuggled down into those icecubes and covered herself with the icewater. Most remarkable - I thought I'd have to fight her into the water. She was a big 20 pound Maine coon type cat, not fat. So be prepared for temperature type events.

Another thing I learned was to camp on ridges, not near lakes because of mosquitos and flies. I was brushing them away but I noticed my cats face and eyelids were coated with them and she didn't brush them away - so I quit setting up and just left and drove on for hours to the mountains and ridges.

Two places my cat really liked and wouldn't come. So I just waited all day and that night she came to the tent when the coyotes started howling. So take good books to read. The second place, she hopped out of the car when I tossed trash in the receptacle, and I didn't look in her kennel (open) in the back seat. Just by chance I glanced in my rear view mirror on the way out and thought, "that cat crossing the parking area looks a lot like my cat." She was heading back to that fun camping spot in Canada and I scooped her up.
That was actually another thing I was wondering about... if Bo ( my support rooster ) would be okay if it were just him and me. I know chickens thrive on being around other chickens, but if I'm spending enough time with him, will he still be happy? That's most of the reason why the others are coming along, frankly - to keep him ( and each other ) feeling happy, safe, and comfortable.
Yes, I think so.

It will make traveling simpler for him because he can place his entire attention on you. With the other chickens, his attention will be split and might exhaust him trying to also protect them and watch you at the same time. If a situation should occur he will have to decide between you and the other chickens, or try to do both and get overwhellmed and freak out. Better I think that he be comfortable just watching you while depending on you.

Just noticed you are in Olympia. Thats where I lived for 12 years.
I think I ought to make it very, very clear that my chickens look up to me as the dominant one. They respond to situations as I portray. When outside with the rest of the flock, if something would spook the chickens, they would ALL come running to me - the roosters included. These are pets, not livestock, which means that I take an active role in their lives in the form of dominance portrayal, training, psychological and physical health, as well does it mean that they are companions instead of just tools, money, and / or food. Not that there is anything wrong with livestock instead of pets, that is just not what I am using my chickens for. I am VERY strict with them about dominance and aggressive behaviours, and understanding their place in the flock. I find my roosters to feel much more comfortable in a submissive position, and they rely on ME to protect THEM.

And yup, I am in Olympia right now. Doing research on some interesting stuff in the area, but I think there might be much more to it than what I'm really prepared to take on single-handed.

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