A complete guide to leaving your flock with a chicken sitter
Your vacation is booked, and your luggage is packed. But what about the chickens? Who is going to look after them? Read below to find out all you need to know about hiring a chicken sitter so you can relax and enjoy your vacation worry free!
Adult chickens don't need a lot of supervision. You can leave them for a few days, provided they have plenty of food, water, and outdoor access, so they don't get bored (or overheated in a closed coop!) A chicken sitter is needed if you will be away from your home for more than a few days. At a minimum, it's recommended to have someone who will check on the flock just to ensure they don't knock over their waterers, for example. Or to ensure someone is around in case of an injury or emergency.
What to look for in a chicken sitter
Ideally, it would be great to find a chicken sitter with prior experience being a chicken babysitter or someone who owns a flock of their own. If that isn't possible, consider someone who is at least comfortable with chickens. Invite them to meet your flock and determine if they are someone you can trust to be reliable and follow your directions to ensure the safety of your flock. Make arrangements for pay or compensation ahead of time, so there are no surprises about expectations.
How to find a chicken sitter?
- Check with neighbors or family, or friends that live nearby.
- Consider hiring a local pet service.
- Call your local veterinarian and ask if they have any pet sitter recommendations.
- Call your local 4-H club and ask if any local members are interested in pet sitting.
What instructions should I leave for my chicken babysitter?
Be sure to share detailed instructions with your chicken sitter, so they know what to expect.
- Water - Ask your chicken sitter to check daily to ensure the water has not been knocked over. Refresh daily or as needed. Let your sitter know where the hose is located or which sink to use if you give them house access.
- Feed - Have your chicken sitter check the feed daily to ensure that they have enough. Be sure to have plenty of feed to last for the entire time you are away. If you usually store your feed in a garage or shed, ensure your chicken sitter has access.
- Treats - Don't forget the treats! Treats can be an excellent way for your pet sitter to win over the affection of your chicken flock.
- Egg collecting - Leave your sitter empty egg cartons or a basket and instruct them to gather the eggs at least once daily. As an extra bonus, offer to let your sitter keep the eggs that they collect!
- Review chicken behavior - If your chicken sitter is new to chicken sitting, warn them about some chicken behaviors. Always warn them about a broody hen and her antics. You may even want to offer your sitter a pair of garden gloves for protection when collecting the eggs. Ask them to make sure the broody hens drink and eat. You might also warn them about sunbathing, and dust bathing, which could also fool a person inexperienced with chickens into thinking something is wrong.
- Practice good biosecurity - Remind your sitter, before and after working with your birds, to wash their hands with soap and water, preferably followed by a disinfectant. Ask your chicken sitter to dedicate a particular pair of shoes when at your coop or clean their shoes with disinfectant before and after working with your flock. Following these best practices will help protect your flock from HPAI and other illnesses.
What your chicken babysitter should do in an unexpected situation
- Have an emergency plan - If a chicken should get injured somehow, even if it's not bad, instruct your chicken sitter to separate her from the rest of the flock. Provide a safe place for your sitter to separate the hen, such as a second coop or a dog crate. Whatever you use, be sure it protects your injured hen from predators and weather elements.
- Contact info - Leave your chicken sitter your contact info and the contact info of your Veterinarian. Consider leaving them a contact of a person close by who can come and help in an emergency.
What do you tell your chicken sitters? Have you ever forgotten something important? Have you added tasks to your list after a bad experience? Please tell us in the comments, so we can help other chicken sitters!