Sooner or later we will all be faced with a time when we have to quarantine one of the members of our flock. The reason for this could be most anything from illness to the introduction of a new bird. During quarantine time it is especially important to be able to keep that animal safe and calm while still restricting the access to him or her by other animals. Having a sturdy sick bay on hand at all times is absolutely necessary because you never know when a time might come that you will need to use it.
A common choice for a confinement area is a pet carrier such as the ones intended for dogs. These are quite sturdy and come in all sizes to accommodate a variety of different sized dogs, so it is very easy to select a size that will work for confining the breed of chicken you own. It is also very convenient the way these carriers break down as that enables easy cleaning. With good ventilation from all angles and a door that opens and closes with ease while still preventing chicken escapes, a pet carrier seems like an excellent way to go for a temporary and portable sick bay for your poultry patients.
While going out and purchasing a carrier is convenient, some of us are more of the do-it-yourself mindset. As a result, it is almost a challenge to find something useful around the house or barn that can be converted into a quarantine area for ill birds. Finding something to fit this bill can be tough but is not impossible. One such option is a plastic 55 gallon drum.
Although these drums are commonly referred to as 55 gallon drums, sometimes they do come in different sizes, such as 40 or 50 gallons. If you choose to use one of these as a chicken sick bay, it will need to be a clean one that was never used to house any sort of chemicals. It will also need to be free of sharp cracks or jagged holes that can injure a chicken who is already ill and has enough to worry about. The specific type of drum that is idea for creating a sick bay is the plastic variety with a screw top. Never use metal as it can get too hot to safely house a chicken.
The first step in transitioning your drum into a sick bay is to ready the screw top for use. It goes without saying that you do not want to lock a chicken in a dark barrel with no air source, so that screw top is going to need some attention. Start by removing the center portion, being careful to leave the threaded section intact. You can remove the center with a circular saw or by breaking it apart and prying the pieces free. Once the center is clear of the hard, solid portion that was once there, take some wire mesh and cover the center section of your lid, gluing or stapling it into place. This will give your chicken ventilation as well as a view of the outside world. For added ventilation, small holes can be drilled in what is to be the top side of the drum.
With your lid and ventilation system complete, the next step is to find a secure location for your 55 gallon drum. Since drums are round, they will roll if not secured, thus a location without the freedom to roll is a must for placement. Once your drum is safely in position, all that is left to do is bed it down before your first patient arrives, and once that patient is inside, screw the mesh lid in place for an instant quarantine area.
Always be sure to maintain a safe area for your drum so it cannot roll away, causing further injury to a chicken that is already having health issues. Also be sure to handle all tools with care while creating this project. When all is said and done, you will have a sturdy sick bay that can comfortably house a sick or injured animal and keep them apart from the outside world until they have had an adequate chance to recover. This converted drum can also be used as a nesting box if you desire, but either way your chickens are sure to find comfort and privacy while inside.