I had too many roosters, so I asked around to see if anybody wanted up to three of them. Sometimes you get lucky. It just so happened that there was a taker about five miles away. So, I went about the business of gathering the chickens and putting them in a cage for transport.
Now, that sounds simple enough, right? Let me tell you – when a chicken is uncooperative, wow is it hard to move chickens.
One rooster slipped out of my hands and was not about to be caught again, so I still have him. It turns out that the flock is much calmer with only one rooster.
The other two gave me a run for my money, but were finally secured in an old dog crate. I put a blanket on the floor for a comfortable ride and a blanket over the crate to keep things dark and calm. The crate went in the back seat of the truck, not in the bed. And away I went.
This is a great way to move a couple of birds, but what if many chickens are to be moved?
Reduce Stress During Chicken Transport
While moving my roosters it was obvious that they were not pleased. It turns out that transporting chickens is one of the most stressful happenings in their lives. Stress is the cause all sorts of chicken problems… low egg production, low feed to production ratio, shortened lifespan, weight loss…
By nature, chickens are nervous, sensitive, cautious, aloof creatures that take some time to give their trust to someone. You can hold a baby chick every day for weeks, but leave it alone for a couple of days and it seems to never have known you.
It is important to make chickens feel as safe and secure as possible all the time, even more so during transport. How do you do that? Think about the coop. Why do they go there every evening to sleep? Because it is safe and secure. It is dark, it has bedding, food and water, and coop-mates. These are all components that are necessary during transport as well.
Food and Water
A chicken will drink a pint of water per day. Under ideal circumstances, a chicken can go 48 hours without water. In a hot climate, more than 8 hours without water can kill a chicken. So it is imperative to keep chickens hydrated during a long trip. How you do that is simple. Stop and give them water. They don’t care how it is served as long as it is served.
Food is not as critical, but a chicken will starve after a few days under stress.
Preparing For The Trip
The best way to prepare your chickens is to give them a dose of high quality food and water just prior to catching and placing in small crates of three birds each. After a meal of high-quality, high-protein food and water with electrolytes, you then capture your chickens with two hands around the body, not by the neck or legs, hold them close to you to keep them calm, and place them in the crates.
I use the number 3 chickens per crate as a guide. You want to keep them close enough together to provide stability during transport, but not suffocatingly close.
What Vehicle to Choose
I’ve seen chickens riding in crates on the back of trucks that were wide open to the wind, sun, rain, and dust. Those chickens were not comfortable at all. They may have been going to slaughter, but if you believe that stress degrades the flavor of the meat, then these birds weren’t very tasty.
A box truck, insulated preferably, is the best choice to transport chickens for a few reasons.
Chickens like it dark. When I transported my roosters in the back seat of my truck, I put an absorbent bed pad on the bottom of the cage, and a red blanket over the top. Their environment was soft and dark. I didn’t hear a peep out of them for the entire 5-mile trip.
A box truck is dark enough to keep chickens calm. Just make certain that there is plenty of ventilation because there is going to be a lot of body heat in that truck. The box will keep the sun from baking your chickens, and the rain won’t get to them either.
Of course, you will want to strap your chicken’s crates securely to keep them from tumbling around in the back of the truck.
Where Are You Going? Are They Ready For You?
A simple trip can take some bad turns (sorry about that one) if you don’t know where you are going. One wrong turn can leave you stranded in traffic, traveling way down the wrong road, or worse – lost. GPS is pretty ubiquitous these days, so this will probably not be an issue. It is still a good idea to plan out the best, fastest route before taking off.
Make sure the final destination knows the chickens are on their way and that they are ready for them. If they are going to coops, then the coops should have food, water, and bedding waiting. If the chickens are going to slaughter, try to make the transition as humane as possible.
When arriving at the destination, inspect the chickens quickly to see if any particular cage, or chickens need evacuation first. In any event, the transition to housing should be as swift and painless as possible. And the chickens are going to be hungry and thirsty.
Final Destination Reached
It’s important to keep chickens comfortable during transport. Taking care to nourish them before and during the trip if necessary is a must. The calmer the chickens, the better the chances of a 100% survival rate upon arrival at their final destination. Make sure you know where you’re going and that the receivers know that you are coming. Use GPS if possible. If all of these steps are followed, you should have a safe and successful chicken transport experience.
I appreciate that you have taken the time to read this. If you have any questions, just drop me a line below. Thanks.