Can You Leave Chickens Alone for a Week?

If you own any kind of livestock you already know that your animals are largely dependent on you for everything they need. For much of their food, fresh water, clean accommodations, protection healthcare, and more.

flock of New Hampshire chickens
flock of New Hampshire chickens

This can make it logistically and even emotionally very difficult to leave them and get away from your homestead for any length of time.

What will they do without you? But what about self-sufficient animals like chickens? They would probably be okay if you left them for a time. Can you leave your chickens alone for a week?

No, you should not leave your chickens alone for a week. Compared to other animals chickens will do okay without your attention for a few days, but a week without care is pushing it. Chicks cannot be left alone until they are adolescents.

Yes, chickens are highly self-sufficient birds that can find their own food and generally take care of themselves.

However, they are still dependent upon you for much of what they need and if you are planning a long hiatus away from your homestead you’ll need to make arrangements or know what to do in order to support them while you are gone. This article will tell you how. Keep reading.

Do Chickens Rely on Humans to Live?

Yes. Domestic chickens, like all other domestic animals, are largely dependent on humans for much of their care.

Chickens need humans to provide them with food, water, good shelter, and protection from predators.

Chickens also rely on humans for their healthcare, as they are not able to take care of themselves when they become sick or injured.

Though chickens remain fairly close to their ancestral state in the wild and are quite capable of looking after many of their own needs, they are vulnerable without human supervision.

Leaving Chickens Alone While You Travel

Can Chickens Be Left Alone?

Yes, they can. Despite being reliant on humans to survive and thrive in the end, chickens are surprisingly self-sufficient birds.

They are far more capable of taking care of themselves compared to most other animals you have.

Chickens are able to find their own food and water, and they can even roost in trees if they need to.

Chickens also have a very strong instinct to return to their coop or home at night, which combined with their excellent sense of direction helps protect them from predators.

However, while chickens can be left alone for short periods of time without any problems, you should not leave them alone for too long.

Can You Leave Your Chickens At Home While On Vacation?

How Long Can You Safely Leave Chickens Alone?

You can safely leave chickens to their own devices for 4 or 6 days so long as you set them up with plenty of food. And because chickens can’t survive more than 48h without water, you should make sure they have enough.

Talking safety, you also need to leave your chickens in a secure chicken run, so that they are protected from predators roaming around.

Chickens are highly social and inquisitive animals, and do best when they have room to move around and other chickens in the flock to interact with – so it’s not ideal to leave them alone for too long.

It is also important to minimize the amount of time they are, literally, cooped up. Chickens like being inside their coop when the sun goes down but they want to get out and move around every day.

They will tolerate being contained in their coop for a day or two, tops, but shortly after that, the trouble will start.

They will start getting cranky, possibly fighting among themselves. Their usual waste generation will start to accumulate and that can start to irritate them since you aren’t around to clean it up.

However, letting chickens out into their run for the duration might make them significantly more vulnerable to predators.

What Factors Determine How Long Chickens Can be By Themselves?

Chickens need four major things while you are gone:

  • clean water
  • food
  • shelter
  • security

Water: Your chickens will quickly suffer from dehydration without water, so you need to make sure they have guaranteed access to clean water at all times.

The easiest way to do this is to fill up a large container with water before you leave or use an automatic chicken waterer, which will keep the water clean and fresh for your chickens.

1. Food

Chickens need food for energy and to maintain their overall health. You must make sure they have enough to eat while you are gone.

The best way to do this is to leave out the required quantity of food that they normally eat in a day, times the number of days you’ll be gone, so they can graze as they please.

You can also use a feeder that will dispense food as they eat it. In either case, try to ensure they cannot contaminate this food with droppings or by getting it wet.

2. Shelter

Chickens always need shelter to protect them from the elements and predators. Their coop and/or run should be secure and well-ventilated and totally enclosed to eliminate any chance of a jailbreak.

If keeping them in their coop for more than two days, you should also provide them access to a run so they can stretch their legs and get some exercise while you’re gone.

3. Security

Chickens are highly vulnerable to predators, and since so many other critters love chickens so it is important to make sure both their coop and run are completely secure.

The coop should be made of sturdy materials and have a lock on the door, while the run should be enclosed with chicken wire or another type of fencing that extends at least a foot in depth underground to help ward off diggers.

Carefully inspect the area around the coop for any holes or gaps that predators could exploit and use to get in.

Predators Will Take Advantage When You are Gone

Of particular concern for keepers who are leaving their flock for any length of time is the attention of predators.

You might not have had many problems from predators prior to your departure, but that is for one, simple reason- because you were always around!

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All predators, great and small, fear humans if they have half a brain. This is because they have been conditioned by long experience, as a species, to know that to mess with humans means death.

But with you gone they will quickly notice and will be ever keener to get at the near-defenseless chickens.

Chickens are easy prey for many predators: skunks, weasels, raccoons, opossums, snakes, coyotes, foxes, dogs, hawks, and owls to name a few. All of them will be working overtime when you are away.

Is it Possible for You to Leave Your Flock for a Week or Longer?

It is possible to leave your chickens alone for a week, or even longer, but you must make special preparations.

This is primarily due to the fact that things go wrong even when using an automatic chicken waterer or feeder.

Your best bet, if you are leaving for a long period of time, is to ask someone to check on and care for your chickens.

This person should be given explicit instructions on what to do and should be completely trustworthy.

Your babysitter, or rather chicken sitter, should know how to check their food and water, how to inspect the coop and run for break-in attempts and damage, and how to notice if any birds are sick or injured.

Taking care of dirty bedding and waste removal is a big plus.

Ideally, this person should also have some experience with chickens so they can deal with any problems that may come up while you are gone.

One of the best things they can do for your birds if they are cooped up is simply to let them out into the run.

This will give them a chance to move about, get some exercise, and take in some fresh air. It also allows your sitter to deal with food and water issues while the flock is distracted with their freedom.

Another big plus is if this person can collect the eggs for you assuming you have laying hens.

This helps keep the eggs in a ready-to-eat condition and also reduces the chances a hen will go broody.

Can You Leave Baby Chicks Alone?

Leaving chickens alone is one thing, leaving baby chicks alone is another. Chicks are extremely vulnerable to disease and temperature fluctuations.

They need to be kept warm and dry and protected from drafts while always having food and water available. It does not take much going wrong to kill a chick.

If you absolutely must leave them alone for a period of time, the best thing to do is to set up a brooder with a regulated temperature control system and an automatic waterer and feeder.

The brooder should be in a safe, quiet place where the chicks will not be disturbed.

As you can see, there are a number of things to consider before leaving your chickens or chicks alone for any length of time. The very best thing to do is to make sure they will be well cared for in your absence.

This may mean hiring someone or making arrangements with a friend or neighbor to do what needs to be done in your absence.

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