Lots of people take their pets on vacation. Not a lot of people take their chickens. I am one of the weird exceptions. We travel a lot to Montana. A LOT. For example, we were in Montana for a month this past summer. I just couldn’t bring myself to ask someone to watch my chickens for an entire month, so we improvised and discovered how to bring them with us. Here’s how:
The first step is to ask permission. Luckily, we were staying at my parent’s house on a great big lot in the woods. We were not in some city apartment or staying with people we didn’t know well. My mom actually thinks chickens are great fun and dad thought it was a hilarious idea. Parents had no problem with the plan. I double checked their city ordinances on chicken keeping. We were good.
Next, we knew that we would have to deal with certain challenges that we don’t face in our suburban environment: different predators, building a coop for them there (thank you so much honey!), bringing or getting supplies in a new place, etc.
Third, we had to figure out how to transport them. We don’t have a pickup truck. We have a regular white minivan. But we did have a couple of important things. We had a hitch on our minivan and we were able to get a outside platform hitch attachment (that I wanted anyway). It is a 4×2 platform that hooks on to your hitch and sits just outside the back of your car. This just happened to be the perfect size for our extra large dog kennel. Score! (If you decide to try this at home, be very aware that your exhaust pipe doesn’t touch or point toward the kennel where you strapped it on to the hitch – it gets very hot coming out of your exhaust pipe and I am guessing your goal here isn’t fried chicken.)
We tried a couple of different traveling methods but what worked the best is to put a heavy layer of fresh pine shavings in the bottom of the dog kennel and then load the chickens in. We attached a waterer to the kennel door that we could fill with a squirty bottle as they drank up their water and threw a few snacks inside for them. We wrapped a moving blanket around the kennel to keep out the wind (there are some window type slits on the side of the kennel and we didn’t want to freak the birds out any more than we had to) and then strapped it on to the platform hitch.
As we traveled we felt a bit like hillbillies, but it worked. It was a bit awkward when we pulled in for gas and two adults, four children, and a medium size dog piled out of the minivan which had odd squawking noises emitting from the hitch area. I would toss the chickens extra grapes (one of their favorite treats) and give them fresh water at each stop. We had a few eggs laid on each journey but none of them broke thanks to the heavy layer of pine shavings. I was worried that the stress of travel would cause them to stop laying. One of our chickens, Dragon (the Easter Egger), did stop while we were in Montana on our second journey there with them this summer. It could have been that the travel stressed her out or maybe the shorter days have just disturbed her laying habits (it was toward fall). For a little while she just stopped, though she was not ill or broody. I thought that perhaps she just did not thoroughly understand our relationship. She lays eggs and I feed her, she stops laying eggs and she feeds me ;). However, after a few weeks, she began laying again and now I have beautiful blue/green eggs once more. We’re all good.
So. It can be done. It was weird. And I definitely got a chicken sitter when we went to Disneyland this year instead of checking to see if the hotel would allow fowl :). But for an extended stay, where we had the room and approval, it worked. And it made the kids happy to bring their pets with them.