When you first bring a resident to your sanctuary, be sure to keep thorough records of the intake process and everything you first learn about the resident. It is helpful to also get photos of the new resident- both of their face and any distinguishing characteristics, as well as any health issues, and pictures of their incoming condition (such as overgrown nails, feces-matted feathers, or other issues caused by improper care). If you are rescuing or fostering these chickens as part of an ongoing cruelty case, be sure to work closely with animal control and the district attorney’s office to ensure you are documenting everything they will need for the legal case.
You should have an intake record template that is used for all incoming animals. Important details that it should include are:
- Arrival date
- Unique incoming number– While this may not be necessary for someone caring for just a few chickens, having a unique identification number can be very useful for many sanctuaries. Over the years you may have names that are repeated (even if you go out of your way not to repeat names over the years, you could take in a chicken who has the same name as one of your residents, but because they know their name, you might opt to keep it), and even if you use leg bands, these numbers will likely be repeated at some point. Having a system so every individual has their own unique number will make finding information easier. Some places number each resident in the order they arrived, others do a variation of this by incorporating the year they were rescued into the number. Just make sure whatever system you use prevents any possible repeats. If you care for multiple species, it make sense to have one universal system so that you do not have a chicken resident with the same number as a pig resident.
- Species and Breed– If your organization rescues multiple species of animals, be sure to also include species. Some breed names apply to multiple species, which could get confusing down the road.
- Age (or approximate age)
- Physical description*
- ID, if applicable- Be sure to include any incoming ID such as a state issued leg or wing band even if you plan on removing it (which you absolutely should do, in the case of wing bands).
- Rescue story– Be sure to include all of the details of their rescue- where did they come from? What were the circumstances of their rescue?
- Incoming weight
- Incoming condition– Are they emaciated? Do they have a mite infestation or signs of illness?
Because an individual’s physical characteristics can change overtime, and you may discover new aspects of their personality the longer you know them, we recommend reviewing and updating this document annually for most residents. For new residents, it may make sense to review this form a few months after intake, as lots can change during those first months while they are settling in and possibly healing from past traumas.
Also be sure to keep any transport paperwork in their permanent record, such as a CVI or any test results. We’ll talk a bit more about what should be included in a resident’s permanent record at the end of this course.