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What to Do With Chickens When on Vacation

Can 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 taking care of 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 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 can chickens stay in a coop?

I wouldn’t say I liked thinking about the birds in this small little space. But, I also knew if I started letting them out, we probably could never go on vacation.

According to this article, chickens can go 24 hours without water, but they may not lay any eggs.

chickens vacation coop

I couldn’t ask my neighbor to round up our chickens. They are in their 80s, and well, I couldn’t do that to them. What if they made it all the way to the BJs parking lot?

If you are thinking about getting chickens, it is important to start with the basics. So first, go and read my post on getting started with chicks for cheap. Second, go and read the five common mistakes chicken owners make here.

If your coop isn’t big enough you probably won’t be able to leave your chickens inside for days at a time.

More Chicken Tips:

Let me share with you how we have left our chickens to fend for themselves and go on vacation.

You need to factor in how many chickens you have for these tips. When you only have six birds, it will be easier to leave them for a few days with minimal attention.

If you have twenty birds you will need to recruit a helping hand and set up the following ideas below.


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.”

chickens vacation coop

This will allow the birds to have a larger amount of water, without worrying if it gets dumped etc.

Here is an idea on how to make your own.

Set this up at least a week before you leave. It will take the birds a few days to adjust to the new water system.

If you want an easier project for your birds to have access to water. Try this method.

chickens vacation coop

Use a five-gallon bucket and purchase Chicken Waterer cups. You can grab four cups for only $19.99.

Of course you can buy the whole thing already made on Amazon here.


You will want to make sure the birds have plenty of food for the few days you will be gone. If you are planning on taking off for more than a couple of days, you will need someone to come in and check on the birds.

chickens vacation coop

I find you can get away with stocking up on all the chicken food and water for two days. After that, it’s a good idea to have a neighbor stop in and check water and food levels.

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, I find they rarely dump over a water bowl. However, our pigs dump bowls daily in the winter.

You can also grab a automatic waterer and feeder.

Check out this automatic waterer on Amazon for under $15. Check out this Automatic feeder on Amazon here.

Need tips for keeping your chickens warm in winter? Read This.

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 extra straw. The eggs will be okay to sit for a few days. Again if you are leaving for a week in the summer when it’s 90 degrees, you will need someone to come and get the eggs.


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. If you have a chicken run, be sure there aren’t any holes for predators to get in.

Check out tips here for your chicken coop.

chickens vacation coop

Weather plays a major 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 cheaper 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 come to gather eggs and 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.

Don’t have anyone near you to care for your chickens? This Pet Sitter website now offers sitters for chickens! Check it out here.


What tips do you have for leaving your chickens when you go on vacation?

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Sunday 28th of November 2021

I have seven hens and recently went out of town for a week. I left their hanging feeder filled with scratch and a flock block. It proved to be sufficient food. For their water, I found a 12-gallon waterer at Tractor Supply and that was more than enough water for them. As for the eggs, I asked a friend to gather them every other day and left cartons for her to take the eggs home to keep.


Friday 5th of June 2020

We leave a kiddie pool out under a slanted roof to collect water like a rain barrel. Only if we have a drought for weeks or a freeze do we have to worry about watering the chickens.


Saturday 6th of June 2020

That is a great idea too!

Stuart Bone

Thursday 29th of August 2019

Chicken Straw after the girls have finished with it is great in the Compost


Sunday 2nd of June 2019

I used to do straw. I switched to sand and LOVE it. Do a thick layer of sand and liberally sprinkle granular PDZ every time you clean the coop. It's like scooping a huge kitty litter box. Use a rake, scrape it into a pile and throw it in a plastic bin. That goes in the compost pile. Do it, you won't regret it!

Mollie Cornwell

Monday 7th of June 2021

I agree. I use straight PDZ but have been thinking about using sand. Love PDZ! Just like scooping cat litter and super easy!


Saturday 24th of April 2021

Doesn’t the sand freeze in the winter?


Tuesday 20th of August 2019

What is PDZ ??


Monday 3rd of June 2019

That's a great idea!


Tuesday 30th of April 2019

I have read straw is not good in coops? I’ve been using straw, but am looking to transfer over to sand. Any thoughts would be appreciated.


Tuesday 30th of April 2019

Straw is a fine choice, hay is a different story because it can get moldy.

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