There are almost an infinite number of ways to practice sustainability, some of which require a more substantial lifestyle change – such as keeping one’s own chickens. Owning chickens might prevent one from leaving the house often or going on road trips. However, keeping chickens and living or traveling in an RV or camper van can actually go hand-in-hand.
Here are five tips on how to travel safely with chickens in an RV.
Establish an indoor space
Regardless of whether chickens are kept in the same backyard their entire lives or travel regularly, they need plenty of outdoor time. This means that a portable coop or outdoor run must be purchased or built. However, while traveling in between campsites and at night, chickens need to be kept indoors.
An area within the RV, such as a spare room, must be established as a space for one’s chickens. Ideally, this space should have plenty of natural light and ventilation. It’s also best if this space has floors that can be easily cleaned (for obvious reasons).
The designated chicken area should include a roosting area or perch for the chickens to climb up onto. It is a good idea to place newspaper or a similar material underneath the perch to catch droppings. This area should also have a nesting box, feeder, and waterer for the birds.
Establishing a special space in the RV for the chickens helps reduce stress among the birds and prioritizes the birds’ safety.
Keep an eye out for illnesses
While chickens are very hardy creatures, they unfortunately are not immune from falling ill. There are a wide range of illnesses that can affect chickens, and many of these illnesses in turn impact a chickens’ egg production. It’s important to be able to recognize the symptoms of a sick chicken, especially while on the road.
According to Chickens and More, chickens can fall ill and egg production can decline or stop due to a variety of reasons. Calcium deficiency, infection, or parasites can all cause a chicken to become sick. Even high levels of stress, which chickens may experience in the early days of traveling in an RV, can cause them to become ill.
Check out this wacky RV with an attached chicken coop!
Chickens will show that they are not feeling well through a variety of symptoms. These may include lethargy, abnormal droppings, loss of appetite, and decreased egg production. Some of these symptoms and underlying illnesses can be treated easily by adding supplements to the chickens’ food. More serious illnesses, though, need to be treated by a poultry veterinarian.
Watch out for predators
Oftentimes, state and national parks are the destination for RVs and camper vans. It’s more than likely that these wooded and secluded campsites have a higher number of potential predators that can put chickens at risk of being attacked and killed. These predators might include raccoons, possums, coyotes, or even fellow campers’ dogs.
In order to protect chickens from predators, it’s important to plan ahead for an increased risk of predators. One should research their camping destinations beforehand to identify what predators are common in the area. Chickens should be monitored closely while outside in their run, even during the day. Chickens should also always be brought inside at night.
Purchase a portable run
One of the most important factors when it comes to keeping chickens is giving them sufficient outdoor space. This can be especially hard to fulfill with the less-stationary lifestyle that comes with living on or regularly traveling in an RV. However, it’s still possible to provide chickens with enough outdoor space by purchasing a portable run.
Portable chicken runs are the perfect option for RV owners because they can easily be set up and taken down. There are even different types of portable runs that can be built or purchased.
Wire fencing can be used to establish an outdoor run space for chickens. This fencing should be a few feet tall and should be carefully secured shut to keep the chickens inside. This option for an outdoor run is cost-effective but will not prevent attacks from aerial predators such as hawks.
Another option for a portable run is a mesh enclosure. While these are slightly more expensive, a mesh chicken run can be easily set up and taken down and is fully enclosed so as to protect from aerial predators.
Maintain a balanced diet
It can be difficult to feed chickens a balanced diet while living or traveling in an RV or camper van because fresh fruits and vegetables perish so easily. But, as with any other pet, chickens need to be fed a balanced diet in order to stay healthy and to avoid falling ill.
It’s easier than one might think to feed chickens a balanced diet while on the road. It’s important to purchase a high-quality type of store-bought food that has sufficient amounts of calcium, sodium, and other vitamins and minerals. But when it comes to fresh foods, chickens are more than happy to finish off their owners’ table scraps.
Feeding chickens leftover fruits, vegetables and other scraps not only helps the chickens to be healthier but also helps reduce waste while living on an RV. However, foods such as chocolate, garlic and highly-processed foods should never be fed to a chicken.
Although keeping chickens while living or traveling in an RV may seem impossible, chickens are more adaptable and flexible creatures than one may think. With the proper supplies and by taking the right precautions, there is no reason that chickens cannot live safely and happily in an RV or camper van.