Here chook chook

20Jun10

@jobeaz asked that someone blog on the pros and cons of keeping chooks – so here is my list. We’ve had chooks for the past 3 or 4 years, with a year off last year when our chooks were having a coastal holiday with my parents-in-law while we were building/renting.
Pros

  • eggs, fresh, fresh eggs!
  • compost – the straw/chook poo is wonderful for the garden
  • scraps – food scraps either go to the chooks or into our regular compost
  • company – I love their busy-ness, looking up from the house and seeing them scratching and clucking around. They have amazing eyesight – particularly for movement and they can spot an insect in a flash!
  • personality – this is an added bonus. I never really thought chooks had their own individual personalities until I had chooks – and the pecking order does exist. They are smart too – they know my voice and are friendly. They are happy to be picked up and talked to.
  • you will be a little on the way to being self-sufficient and your eggs will have low, low food miles. Yesterday for lunch I had an omlette with eggs and our homegrown English spinach and herbs.
  • I like the brown hens – the Rhode Island Reds or the Red/White cross
  • I like giving eggs away – my creative barter? We are getting two eggs a day from our two laying hens so usually have a spare dozen.
  • they don’t need much – always fresh water and pellets and then daily scraps
  • easy for someone to look after when you are away – and they get the eggs!
  • company for our dogs? Edie – our kelpie cross loves just sitting and watching the chooks. I have a friend that lets her dog into her hen run.

Hens come home

Cons:

  • you must have a fox/pest/dog proof run or enclosure. Chooks need somewhere safe to roost and lay their eggs.
  • if you free range – expect them to scratch up your bulbs and pretty garden plants and eat everything!
  • the screech when they are laying can be a bit loud – especially early morning
  • they get sick…
  • what do you do when they stop laying…well we do nothing- they have a nice retirement. Heather- my oldest chook hasn’t laid an egg for at least 8 months, but she is one of the chook family
  • don’t do it for money! If it’s very hot or very cold they can stop laying.
  • * a late con – beware of letting your kids name the chooks- our current chooks are Mini-illa and Rodin (both Godzilla monsters) named by my kids. My other chook’s name is Heather!

Hen house (in the old run)

Our hen house is an old packing case that we got at the tip-shop. Carl has cut a door way on the side and we have the top flap open in summer for ventilation. There are perches and laying boxes inside and straw on the floor.
So that’s my list.  I’m sure there’s more, so will probably add more as I remember.

Chook in nesting box

K

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18 Responses to “Here chook chook”

  1. 1 Tony

    Sounds delightful! What do you do if they get sick? That’s the bit that worries me…

    • 2 strawberriesofintegrity

      Sick bit is the hard bit – keep their boxes/house clean helps. I use online forums if I think there are any problems- for instance on of my chooks had scaly feet- washed them and then sprayed olive oil on them regularly and that did the trick. My boss has chooks and they caught a cold- she went to the vet and got antibiotics. I’ve never had to take a chook to the vet. I’ve had two chooks die (at completely different times) – very quickly- in very hot weather. They were fine in the morning and dead in the afternoon- not sure what happened to them.

  2. 3 Polyxena

    This all sounds horrendous to me! I have a bird phobia and am terrified visiting people who keep chooks or ducks or geese. I am sure you all enjoy it them and there are lots of pros 🙂 but please remember that lots of people have bird phobias and don’t expect them to share your enthusiasms.

    • 4 strawberriesofintegrity

      I’m a bit phobic about birds flapping around my head! I don’t like walking through a flock of pigeons when they all rise up and flap around me!

    • Me too – another terrified bird-o-phobe! We had a farm as a kid and chook duty was my chore – I hated it with a passion, I blame chook duty for all my current mental problems!

  3. 6 Jo

    Thank you!!! Great post and I made hubby read it! I am like Tony, and wonder what happens when they get sick? Do you take them to the vet?
    I really want some chooks but am worried that they might peck me 🙂 Think I need to do some more research….
    Thanks for great post
    ps if red chicken box was blue it could almost be the tardis!!!

    • 7 strawberriesofintegrity

      I wear a pair of $5 plastic clogs when I’m in the run- the chooks have tried to nibble at my toes when I’ve just had thongs on- I think they think my toes are worms. Izzy likes the feeling- I hate it- makes me jump!!

  4. 8 @geomancer

    LOL..I have the same question, what happens when the get sick? Can they make the other chooks sick?

  5. HI Jo – We had chooks whilst I was growing up. I echo what Katie says about the fresh eggs, as well as the individual characters.
    They definitely need a fox proof enclosure (we had several nights of noise as a fox was roaming around) and if you live anywhere near bush the egg laying boxes also need to be snake proof.
    Don’t let them lay in a quiet corner of the garden of you end up with a nest full of rotton eggs. Great fun for kids but the smell is unbelievable. If in doubt with eggs you can put them in a bowl of water and unless they float they’re ok.
    There is usually someone in your community who can tell you about chicken illnesses, or the supplier you brought them from. Some are easily fixed by changes in diet, some involve scaly skin and so on.
    Chickens also need a little roughage in their diet, so there is a product called shellgrit that you feed them if the eggs they lay start to have a rubbery, flexible shell; rather than a tough hard shell we recognise.
    Check your local council before building your chicken run. There are local conditions that may be relevant eg in our area you can’t have a chicken shed within 1m of a neighbours window.
    If you have neighbours DON’T buy a rooster.
    An alternative to start off with might be a local community garden or children’s farm? I have both relatively close to me, and you can go on a roster for feeding and cleaning the cages, and get some eggs for the work. It’s a great way to learn about chicken care, without having to house them yourself.

    Good luck, Ruth

    • 10 strawberriesofintegrity

      Yes- forgot about the shellgrit…one of our previous chooks lay soft eggs- shellgrit adds roughage to their diet.
      Also forgot about snakes…
      Talk to people/neighbours/livestock feed places about getting point-of-lay chooks? Chooks start laying at about 20 weeks- good to get them 2-4 weeks before that to get them settled in.
      You can rent a chook- there are places around- to give you a feel for it
      My sister has a lot of chooks and thought they were just off the lay – found a nest of 40 eggs – chooks were escaping into her garden to lay their eggs!

  6. I am tempted… think hubster would not be keen though.

    • 12 strawberriesofintegrity

      funny, my husband wasn’t keen either…they are my chooks really, altho he looks after then when I’m away.

  7. 13 Rachel

    I hate chooks. I think it stems from my time as a kid being forced to walk in the poultry pavillion at my grandmothers local show. I made sure I walked right down the middle. I hate their beady eyes and sharp beaks. I don’t ever recall being bitten or anything but my hatred (fear) has always been with me.

    Years later when we owned chooks of our own (well Mums) I hated having to let them out of the hen house. I’d open the door, stand well back until they were all out, then put the chock in the door. I would never collect the eggs.

    I too also don’t like most birds flying around me. I can tolerate small birds eg finches or fantails but my favourite bird would have to be the penguin and that is probably because they can’t suddenly fly up around you (and they are cute).

  8. 14 patrice

    Gee, some great comments..I am not really scared of birds..Iove them, find them interesting, and even have grown to like magpies in my old age..he he and don’t mind chooks either..Don’t have any phobias at all with birds..

    But, in saying that, I am a bit of a city girl and don’t like smelly things like poo’s outside and things like that..I use to love taking my children to see the chooks and the animals at the Canberra Show just to see the smiles on their faces, though my stomach was always churning at the smell of the whatever was being smelly..it just didn’t agree with me..though love to look at chookies from afar..

    Also, was thinking, a few years ago, I had some rats in my roof and some little miceys running around-now, I am really PHOBIC, STAND ON THE CHAIR TYPE scared of rodents ( thanks mum, another present from you)..Anyway, the exterminator’s first question was “Does anyone have any chooks nearby”..to which I replied “two doors up”, so, in his opinion, it was the chookies fault! I don’t know enough about these things to know if he was right or wrong..
    Anyway, nothing except for possums around here in my new place (touchwood!), but my sister lives in the next suburb and is constantly getting stressed about having rodents and the exterminator is around at least once a month, and she told me in the way only she can say “bloody hippies next door have chooks!”
    Patrice xx

    • 15 strawberriesofintegrity

      Ha! We keep the feed in a secure plastic bin- so no problems with rodents etc. We do get little brown mice inside soemtimes- espeically when it gets cold!

      • I’ve heard this one before. You get rats anywhere you leave a lot of scraps lying around, so as long as they ate up pretty quickly (and they do) and you didn’t overfeed you should be okay. You can train chooks to eat out of a long thin container, anything shaped like a square drainpipe, so they can all line up an get their heads, in will do. That means you can easily clean it out and see any scraps.

  9. 17 patrice

    I will make sure to tell my sister to stop blaming her poor neighbours, who seem really nice to me!
    Maybe all those” lamb on spits” (ugh- i am a vegetarian) that her husband cooks up outside is bringing those rats a-marching in!..he he 🙂


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