Here Chook Chook Chook…

by

What farm wouldn’t be complete without chooks.

They give us eggs, manure, recycle scraps, eat garden excesses and weeds.

We found a great little hen house on ebay, that was only a year old, complete with feeders. Moved it into our front yard, to become the centre piece of our urban farm.

Our hen house, centre place in our garden.

Our hen house, centre place in our garden.

When I lived in the bush we had a number of different varieties but my favorite was the Araucanas. These birds were feisty, tough little poultry that lay the most gorgeous blue eggs.

Even though I love these little birds they are not really suitable for the urban environment, they are incredibly talkative, flighty and hate being confined …… so what to get?

I thought I would find some little bantams, I have always love bantams, the mini chooks of the poultry world. Asking around some friends I found two point of lay Sussexs, a white and a beige.

Our Bantams

Our Bantams

The ‘girls’ settled in well and started laying tasty eggs within weeks of moving in.

our very first egg

our very first egg

But we had a few issues ……. they were noisy, just before sunrise they started calling out for breaky and kept up this demanding behaviour all day. They always had grain and water but they loved their kitchen scraps. This behaviour did not impress the neighbours and I waking up a dawn to go tend to the girls, didn’t impress me.

Also they kept going clucky. Different breeds of chooks lay a certain amount of eggs before the ‘mother’ instinct kicks in. Some breeds like silky bantams only lay about 12 eggs before they get the urge to sit on their eggs and raise some chicks, other like Iza Browns never have the need to raise young, so they will lay almost every day of the year.

With our Sussexs we got a month or so of eggs and then the girls would sit in the nest box, refusing to eat or drink, pecking us if we wanted the eggs and they would stop laying.

I thought it might be fun to take advantage of the cluckiness so I found someone who had a rooster running with their hens and got some fertilised eggs.

The girls sat, together and hatch two very cute little babies.

a little chick is born

a little chick is born

It was very special have my toddler watch a chick chip its way out of an egg, in her own front yard.

mother and baby

mother and baby

When the chicks were a few weeks old we decided that the Sussex bantams would be best living somewhere else, so a friend from East Gippsland bartered a few trays of herb seedlings for our chooks.

exploring the garden

exploring the garden

We decided to buy four High Line Browns, a breed very similar to Iza Browns. These hens a serious worker chooks, lay almost all year, are quiet, tame and their food to eggs conversion rate is very efficient.

Our High Line Browns have been fantastic, most days we get four eggs, enough that we can regularly give eggs away and we have no shortage of friends who are available to look after our chooks when we are away.

We have our chooks in a deep litter system, meaning that we put a layer of mulch like material on the base of their pen, we use either straw or tree mulch. We rack it out regularly, usually every week and put it around trees or into compost bins.

Chooks are a must for urban farms, even if you only get two, the value of a few eggs a day, weed and scrap recycling and the wonderful rich manure is a very valuable contribution to sustainability.

You can buy chook houses quite cheaply on ebay and friends have purchased hens of Abundant Layers in the Hills just outside of Melbourne.

Another place to check out is Backyard Poultry, an onine site all things chooks.

Go on, give chooks a go!

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