by Donna McGlasson from Gardens & Chickens & Worms, Oh My!
How many of us who own animals especially farm animals have the opportunity to get away for a little R & R or sometimes, a necessary getaway such as helping an elderly parent, chaperoning a field trip for our children or even a trip to promote our small business? It’s tough to get away no matter the reason. I am thankfully blessed to have a terrific husband if I need to go take care of my Mom and we have a fantastic neighbor who watches our animals for us when we take vacations. It hasn’t always been this easy for me but I do recognize the peace of mind I have, while I am away, with my neighbor caring for my animals especially my chickens.
|Look for someone to care for your animals so you can get away and not worry|
The one thing I have learned is scheduling help well ahead of time is very important as well as having a dependable and responsible person to care for the animals. It’s one thing to have your cats checked on or even your dog walked three to four times a day as well as feeding them. It’s quite another thing to ask someone to look after your chickens, goats, llamas, alpacas, etc.
Most people do not have a clue about how to care for our wonderful farm animals. What is routine to us in the care-taking is overwhelming to folks who don’t take care of these kinds of animals. It’s not like you can drop your chickens, goats or llamas/alpacas off at the kennel.
|Seasonal concerns should be carefully explained|
In addition, I tried using a responsible teenager once but he turned out not to be as responsible as I would have liked while caring for my chickens. I’m not saying that teenagers aren’t responsible enough but if they have never been exposed to farm life, chances are they don’t see the importance of caring for our farm animals as instructed.
Here are a few tips to help you find the right individual to care for your farm animals if you need to go away.
- · Begin looking for someone to care for your animals as soon as you know you are going away
- · Go through your routine while writing down instructions to you would like the caretaker to follow
- · Type or neatly print a very detailed but easy to read description of each task to be completed and print out several copies to leave in different spots
- · I suggest doing it by type of animal, for example, mine is broken up by Dog, Cat, Chickens
- · If something is particularly important, make sure to stress it in written and verbal form, e.g., Chickens should NEVER, EVER be without fresh water and please make sure the coop door is securely closed
Security measures for your animals safety
Seasonal concerns for hot or cold weather and animal specific chores like egg collecting should be explained thoroughly
- · Bring the individual over before you leave and take them through the processes completely, more than once if necessary especially if you have a lot of animals
- · Leave contact numbers for yourself, a backup number, your vet and anyone else who may be able to help
- · Check in often, even it’s via text or email
- · Leave notes everywhere! I tape notes on all containers of food and close to water containers to remind them to refill, leave notes on how to give medications attached to the bottles. I even leave notes attached to my chicken run gate in a plastic bag or sleeve with all the instructions for my chickens
Go through instructions in person
- · If the caretaker is caring for animals at other homes or farms, advise them to please wear different shoes when coming to care for your animals. This may seem silly but animal diseases can be spread by shoes while going from home to home. Biosecurity is extremely important especially with chickens
Carefully consider who will tend your domestic and farm animals. Look for them before you need them. People who will care for farm animals are far and few between. Be selective and be specific so you will not obsessively worry while you are away and so you know your animals are being cared for
in manner you find acceptable.