Moving the Chickens Home

Last night we picked up our newly adopted chickens. The family who previously had them now has close to 40 chickens, too many for their coop and available time. So we brought home a momma hen and her five babies.

eating good-five babies show

Our new momma hen and the five chicklets!

The story goes that this determined momma hen disappeared into the woods, laid her eggs, brooded them and a few days after they hatched she proudly walked back out of the woods with her little ones to show them off. Almost like a children’s story book!

The breed is Phoenix an ancient Japanese breed of chicken that traces its heritage back over a thousand years. This is an ornamental breed usually used for show, I am told.

Momma watching me USE

This good little momma hen is on guard!

This late in the season I could have chosen all adult hens for their eggs, but I do like the idea of a little family and feel that choosing “chicklets” will give them more time and opportunity to bond with me.  I also think that my 5-year-old grand daughter will fall in love with the idea of a momma and her babies.

Watching out good

Watching out over her flock.

I’d been researching in preparation for the big move and found myself a bit worried about stressing them out.  So I took some extra precautions, during the move and for the few days after the move.

It is October and about 50 degrees at night so I did not have to worry about them over heating during the ride home. We moved them in a soft-sided cardboard box and moved them late in the early evening. This late in the day timing was recommended to me by a chicken loving friend to let them acclimate slowly to their new surroundings. She also suggested waiting for a few days before trying to be-friend or socialize them.

I admit I m a bit nervous to have these late in the season babies to care for.

In their old home the hen was used to eating just cracked corn and an hour or two of free ranging.  I want to convert them to Organic feed instead so had that feed ready. I also knew from working with dogs to go oh so slowly with feed changes, so I bought some of the same cracked corn they were used to from the farmer we got the chickens from. I began to add the new feed to their mix very slowly. I experimented with about 1/3 of a cup of the new feed each day.  I’ll increased the amount of the new feed a bit more unto the change-over is complete.

I’ve been waiting so long to have them that I was very tempted to start giving them the apples, pears and acorns I had gleaned, but held off to prevent any issues with digestion or diarrhea. So I will introduce this new food very slowly too. Their pen is filled with grass so I knew that the greens would help to see them through the first few days.

I am being very careful with our Labrador Sassy (a trained bird dog) and not letting her near the pen until the chickens get settled. Then I will still move very carefully because she has to be re-trained to not go after momma’s new chickens. I’ve steeled myself to losing one or two of them and that is why I took six of them home instead of the three egg layers that I really want.

More Tips on moving chickens

  • Change and travel are stressful for chickens and they quickly succumb to overheating, so try to move them at night and keep their journey as short as possible.
  • Transport them in a chicken crate, pet carrier or strong cardboard boxes. Cardboard generates warmth so it’s not the best choice in summer. Remember to make plenty of large air-holes and use string to securely tie the boxes shut – chickens are stronger than they look!
  • Avoid overcrowding the birds. They should have enough room to stand up and turn round.
  • Spread a layer of bedding in the bottom of the boxes. You must provide the birds with food and water if travelling for more than eight hours – but in warm weather you should offer a drink more frequently than this.
  • Placing the boxes on the back seat rather than in the trunk allows circulation of air and you will be able to keep an eye on the temperature. Never leave chickens in a parked car on a warm day.
  • Apple cider vinegar in the chickens’ drinking water over the next few days will help them to deal with the stress of the move.
  • Bache Rescue remedy in the water also help with stress at time of moving.

Small House Homesteader and Chicken Keeper, Donna


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