How to Transport Your Birds Safely
Some adult chickens are still shipped by air, but airlines are getting fussier about transporting animals and may not carry them at certain times of the year. You may have to go to the airport to pick up adult birds instead of having them sent through the U.S. Mail to your post office.
If you’re going to a breeder to pick up birds, bring a proper carrier. You can buy a carrier specially made for chickens, but any pet carrier works well. You can find pet carriers cheaply at garage sales and flea markets. Check them out to make sure the doors still work well and latch securely before buying. You can easily clean pet carriers, and you can stack them so they take up less room without the birds beneath getting soiled.
In the country, you can still see people throwing chickens into feed sacks to carry them home, but this practice is neither humane nor safe. Small wire cages like those for rabbits are another feasible alternative. You can carry baby chicks in cardboard boxes, providing that they have some ventilation holes, but don’t try this with older birds — you’re likely to end up with chickens running through the neighborhood.
Don’t crowd too many birds into one carrier. Make sure there’s enough room for the chickens to lie down, stand up, and turn around. Carriers need good ventilation and secure latches. If the trip is an hour or less, the chickens don’t need water or food. If the trip is longer, you’ll need a water container that clips onto the cage or carrier. Unless the trip takes longer than 12 hours, don’t add feed.
Never, ever leave chickens in closed cars in weather warmer than 50 degrees. Even 10 minutes in a closed car in the summer can be too long. Never leave carriers sitting in the sun, either. Chickens can quickly overheat and die.
If you’re transporting chickens in the back of a pickup or trailer, cover part of the cage or carrier to shade it and protect the birds from the wind. The back of a pickup or trailer can get hot in the sun, so pay special attention in warm weather.