Keeping backyard chooks is fun, easy and can benefit your family and garden in so many ways. Our resident chicken expert Leisa provides this advice for people considering keeping backyard chooks.
Crack an egg from a well-tended backyard chicken and you’ll immediately notice the thick, well-formed eggshell surrounding a rich orange yolk. There is more and more evidence that suggests eggs raised under these optimal conditions are higher in critical vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids. Anyone who has tasted them will tell you they are also superior in taste.
But chickens don’t just lay eggs, they will also help to grow food, so put them to work laying eggs and building compost for healthy soil to grow your vegies.
Before starting out on your new venture there are a few things you need to think about. Your new chickens will be totally dependent on you for food, shelter and safety. Are you fully committed to caring for them before you take them on?
Predators are a serious issue for backyard hens. Can you ensure your chickens are well cared for, and protected from dogs, foxes and snakes … as well as from the elements?
Accept that, over time, a chicken’s egg laying abilities will diminish. Have you thought about what you will do when she stops laying?
There is a chance that your young chicken will turn out to be a rooster (it can be quite difficult to tell the gender at first)! Will you be happy with an early morning wake-up call? If not, what happens to the rooster?
Keeping hens is not expensive …. but it’s not free. You’ll need to factor in the cost of feeding them, caring for them if they get ill, and possibly even paying someone to look after them when you are on holidays.
Leisa is holding her course Happy and Healthy Chickens on 26th March 2017, and is an ideal first step towards keeping backyard chooks. The course is equally suited for people who already have chickens but feel they have more to learn.
About the author
Leisa Porter is and ecologist and an urban homesteader living on a 700m2 block in Weston Creek, Canberra, and runs the Growing Vegies with Cooks in the City Facebook page. Leisa spent her childhood and early adult life in the commercial poultry industry. Since then, she has been keeping a home flock through permaculture principles for close to 20 years. Leisa set up a Mandala system when she lived in Queensland and has experimented with a variety of urban rotation designs in Canberra.