Rodale Wellness
by Lissa Lucas & Traci Torres of My Pet Chicken

You can leave your backyard chickens alone for a few days so long as you see to a few basic needs.

Source: Heidi Bakk-Hansen

1. They need enough food and water for the duration of your trip.

That should be a no-brainer. But more than that: If you’re gone for more than a few days, you’ll probably want to have someone just peek in and check on them to make sure they haven’t, say, scratched their waterer full of shavings or overturned a feeder. If you leave them plenty of food and water but they spill it or can’t get to it, it will do them no good.

2. They need to be secure from predators.

Of course, this should also be a no-brainer, but sometimes people are tempted to think, “They’ll be okay for two nights.” Maybe. but maybe not. And how awful would it be to come home to find that your entire flock was slaughtered in a midnight raid by a raccoon? It only takes one night. Heck, it only takes one hour. So, if your run isn’t secure, don’t tempt fate by leaving the coop open and risking a predator attack while you are gone. If their outdoor space is not secure, you may need to leave them locked in their coop while you are gone, but, as you’ll see, this is not always ideal.

3. They also need enough space.

If your chickens normally get ranging time but they are instead shut inside a small coop with nothing to do while you’re away, they may develop behavior problems. For instance, they may pick on each other or begin eating the eggs they lay. If you have to leave them in a small coop or small coop-and-run area, you may try to add a few distractions to the coop to keep them occupied. There are a host of chicken toys, treat balls, and snack racks on the market that fill the bill.

4. Arrange for someone to gather eggs for you, if possible.

Neighbors, friends, and family members often enjoy helping gather eggs in your absence, particularly if you offer to let them keep what they gather. If you don’t have anyone willing to gather for you, don’t worry. If you’re gone for just a few days, the eggs your hens will have laid during your absence should still be good to eat.

Stay Engaged

Sign up for The Cornucopia Institute’s eNews and action alerts to stay informed about organic food and farm issues.

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.