Transport to surgery

Chickens and water fowl are best transported in solid sided boxes. The solid sides will reduce light levels, which will have a calming effect on them. There should be a sufficient number of ventilation holes and top-loading boxes will reduce stress when lifting the birds in or out. In hot weather, containers with perforated sides or top are required to allow adequate ventilation. The holes in the mesh should not be large enough to allow the bird to stick its head out since this would render it vulnerable to injury. Wire mesh floors should not be used since these may cause injury to toes. Boxes should be tall enough to allow the bird to stand. They should be wide enough to allow some movement but not so wide as to allow the bird to spread its wings, which may result in injury.  Cat carriers are frequently unsuitable since they are often front loading and not tall enough. Disposable top-opening cardboard pet carries, however, are often an ideal size and have the advantage of better hygiene as result of their single use. Wooden boxes, whilst durable, can be more difficult to thoroughly disinfect between uses.


Wood shavings or straw can be used to line the container to increase the bird’s grip and reduce the risk of foot injury. It will also provide some environmental enrichment and will help to reduce mess from droppings.


Multiple birds can be transported together which may help to reduce stress levels although birds should be from the same flock. Individuals vulnerable to pecking (for example those with an open wound) are best transported alone. Cockerels should not be transported together in the same container. Particular attention should be given to the temperature inside the box when multiple individuals are carried since it is likely to rise more quickly. It is important that boxes are properly secured in the vehicle to prevent excessive movement. If birds from different flocks are transported in different containers but in the same vehicle, careful consideration of biosecurity is needed and boxes should be placed as far apart as possible to reduce the risk of disease transmission.


Hypothermia can be a problem when transporting chicks. This is primarily controlled by using a relatively smaller box with a larger number of chicks to conserve heat. An external heat source may be required. It is usually appropriate not to use bedding since there is a risk that the chicks might eat it.

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