Can backyard chickens stay in a coop all day? What if you need to leave for a day or two? How long can chickens go without water? The tips below will help you plan your vacation while caring for your chickens.
I started with six Rhode Island Red chickens when we lived across from Walmart. BJ’s Wholesale Club was only two houses down the road. Yet the lines were funny, and we were able to have backyard chickens.
My husband built the chicken coop, and it was small, but the birds had some grass to munch on. So I sat there wondering, How long could chickens stay in a coop?
I wouldn’t say I liked thinking about the birds in this tiny little space. But, I also knew if I started letting them out and free-range them as we do now on our farm, we probably could never go on vacation.
I couldn’t ask my neighbor to round up our chickens. They are in their 80s, and I couldn’t do that to them. What if they made it to the BJs parking lot?
If you are thinking about getting chickens, it the important thing is to start with the basics. So first, read my post on getting started with baby chicks for cheap. Second, go and read the five common mistakes chicken owners make here.
Then you are setting yourself up for the best way to leave your chickens and go on vacation.
If your coop isn’t big enough, you probably won’t be able to leave your chickens inside for days at a time.
Let me share with you how we have left our chickens to fend for themselves and go on vacation.
You need to factor in the number of chickens and how many weeks of age for these tips. When you only have six birds, leaving them for a couple of days with minimal attention will be easier. If you have new chicks, I wouldn’t leave them alone.
If you have twenty birds, you must recruit a helping hand and set up the following ideas below. Want tips for getting the maximum egg production? Read this!
Streamline the Feeding and Watering Process
The first thing you will want to do is make sure your chickens have enough feed. Think of it like your cat; when you are gone for a day or two, you know you can fill up their bowls, and they will eat it as wanted, unlike most other pets.
Installing an automated feeder and water system makes your chicken care routine effortless. These handy tools guarantee your chickens’ daily sustenance without needing you around.
No more worries about the chicken feed, and hello to worry-free vacations!
You could also give your chickens a higher protein feed. Raising chickens for eight years now, I always go with a 16% protein layer feed, but you could grab 22% protein mix.
I was a little unsettled the first time we left our six chickens to fend for themselves, but when we came back, all was well, and they still had plenty of food and water.
Install a PVC Pipe For Water
I don’t know if there is a technical name for it. That’s what I came up with when I asked my husband, and he said, ” I don’t know.”
This will allow the birds to have more water without worrying if it gets dumped. I’m always more concerned with the animals having water over food.
Set this up at least a week before you leave. Your backyard chickens will take a few days to adjust to the new water system, so don’t install this right before you leave for vacation.
According to this article, chickens can go 24 hours without water but may not lay eggs.
Watch The Video I made showing the tips for leaving chickens when on vacation below.
Chicken Waterer Cups
Make providing water for your birds easier with this simple solution. All you need is a five-gallon bucket and some Chicken Waterer cups.
For just $21 you can get five cups to ensure your birds have access to water. Or, if convenience is more your style, you can easily purchase the whole setup on Amazon.
Of course, you can buy the whole thing already made on Amazon here.
BUY A LARGER-THAN-NEEDED POULTRY FEEDER
You will want to ensure the birds have plenty of food for the few days you will be gone. If you plan on taking off for more than a few days, you will need someone to come in and check on the birds.
I find you can get away with stocking up on all the chicken food and water for two days. After that, having a neighbor stop in and check water and food levels is a good idea.
I like to set up two water bowls for the chickens. In case there is a leak, or one gets dumped, etc.
If you have only chickens in a coop, they rarely dump over a water bowl. However, our pigs dump bowls daily in the winter.
Automatic Waterer and Feeder
You can also grab an automatic waterer and feeder. I’ve been too cheap for this, but I’ve heard great things about using them.
Another frugal way to do this is to make your own DIY feeder that you won’t have to worry about filling for several days.
Here are 20 DIY Chicken Feeders.
We have this same chicken feeder with 22 birds. If they are locked in the coop, it lasts two days. Give or take.
If it’s winter, make sure they have an extra straw. Then, the eggs will be okay to sit for a few days. But, again, if you leave for a week in the summer when it’s 90 degrees, you will need someone to come and get the eggs.
Effortless Clean-Up Strategies
Cleaning the coop is essential, but it doesn’t have to be a burden. Before you leave, deep clean the coop and add an extra layer of bedding to minimize maintenance while you’re away.
Additionally, consider installing a drip tray or using sand to make daily cleaning easier for the caretaker. Leave behind a clean and cozy haven for your lovely hens.
If you have someone coming to care for your chickens, this is a must to do, because they will want to grab clean eggs. As homesteaders, we’ve all seen our share of dirty eggs.
But once we take the time to clean up the coop, we appreciate how nice the eggs can be. Take the same approach with your chicken sitter – they’ll love you for it!
PREDATOR-PROOF THE COOP
Be sure to have your coop secured from any predators. We pasture raise our chickens, but we will lock them up in the coop if need be. Our chicken coop is now in a corner of our barn, and when their coop door is closed, it’s predator-proof. The downside is there isn’t a chicken run because the flock is free-range.
If you have a chicken run, be sure there aren’t any holes for predators to get in.
Double-check the coop’s security by inspecting fences, latches, and locks. Provide clear instructions to the person caring for your chickens, emphasizing the importance of securely locking the coop each night. Taking these precautions lets you relax, knowing your feathered friends are protected.
Automatic Coop Door
Recently these are popular in our area. My husband and I ask each other if you close the chickens every night. Now you can install an automatic chicken door that will close once the sun goes down. Even better, they make solar-powered chicken doors.
Try my ultimate chicken binder to make life easier for your chicken sitter while you’re on vacation. Trust me; you’ll have peace of mind knowing your feathered friends are in good hands.
Check out tips here for your chicken coop.
Weather plays a significant role. For example, if winter and the temperatures are below freezing, leaving your eggs in the coop will probably cause them to freeze and crack.
For us cheap folks, sometimes losing a few eggs is more reasonable than paying someone to come in and grab the eggs.
If you are going to have someone come and check your chickens leave a couple of egg cartons near the coop. This way, they won’t be trying to shove the eggs in their pocket.
You could always have the neighbor gather eggs, check your chickens, and take the eggs with them. However, if you live out in the country and your nearest neighbor is miles away, you may find losing a few eggs is worth it.
Clean Out The Coop
Always give your chicken coop a good deep clean before heading on vacation, whether you are leaving the flock alone for a day or someone is coming over.
Read this for tips on cleaning your coop in ten minutes.
Keep Them Entertained
Yes, it’s true, backyard chickens can get bored in their chicken coops! We did a post on all the best ways to entertain your chickens with toys on the blog!
The last thing you can do is get a chicken sitter. Don’t have anyone near you or a family member to care for your chickens? This Pet Sitter website now offers sitters for chickens! Check it out here.
If you are having someone come to care for your backyard chickens, discuss how they will collect eggs. Someone will often be happy to come and watch your chickens while they get free eggs. We now have almost a dozen eggs coming a day, so our chicken sitters are getting a decent amount of fresh eggs even if we are gone for a few days.
Read this for tips on getting your chickens into a new coop.
Owning chickens doesn’t have to limit your vacation opportunities.
By making sure they have plenty of clean water and food for the duration of your time away, having an automatic coop door to come open and close at the appropriate times, getting them a PVC pipe waterer that can reduce spillage and keep them hydrated, changing their bedding. Hence, they are comfortable while you are gone; hiring a pet sitter to visit them regularly so they are never alone–these are the best things you can do to ensure that your feathered friends stay safe while you are away.
Furthermore, downloading the ultimate backyard chicken keeper binder gives you access to many tips and tricks on caring for your chickens, even from miles away! So grab yourself a copy today, and happy travels!
If you have any questions or concerns, please comment below.
MORE CHICKEN TIPS:
- Why A-Frame Chicken Coops May Be the Best Option for You
- A Guide for Winterizing Your Chicken Coop
- The Magic of Dried Leaves in Your Chicken Run, Pig Pen, and Goat Run
- How to Survive Chicken Molting
- The Best Toys for Chickens