I love Chooks ! Seriously, what's not to love. They come in all different shapes,colours and sizes. They all have their own personalities and antics. Not to mention they pay for themselves with their endless supply of eggs and fertiliser for the garden. Then there is their free entertainment. I love sitting back on a lazy day, drink in hand watching the chickens in the garden.
The only problem i have with chickens is i had trouble making up my mind which breed to keep. So i've ended up with a variety. We did choose a Dark Barred Plymouth Rock Rooster as after our research we found this breed to be particularly good natured (important when you have a two year old) and they are one of the original dual purpose breeds. Something to consider when you want to breed, as it can sometimes be hard to find homes for the boys.
So from Aracaunas to Naked Necks - we have a few different breeds. If you would like to add some interest to your chook yard take a look at our girls, we have mixed laying breeds or Dark Barred Plymouth Rocks. Please check the 'Chook Gallery' to have a look at all of our girls. All poultry for sale will be listed on our 'For Sale' page.
Egg to the left is from our rescued battery hen, Beaker. She lays large brown eggs. Egg on the right is from one of our Aracauna hens, Blanche. She lays gorgeous blue/green coloured eggs.
** Please Note: We do not show our chickens. They are not Show Quality. They will be healthy, happy chooks and perfect for any loving Free Range home. We are working torwards getting our Dark Barred Plymouth Rocks to a Show Quality standard **
I have kept commercial laying breeds before, and i must admit i'm very fond of my surviving Battery Hen - Beaker. She has a great personality and temperment and surprisingly after what she has been through, trusts us humans a lot.
What i don't like about the commercial laying breeds is they lay an egg a day. Granted, that sounds a bit strange and at first that is why i really did like them. However, after my experience of keeping these breeds i believe that their little bodies just can't cope with laying an egg a day. It takes a lot for a chicken to produce an egg and lay an egg. I believe their little bodies just give up or die of exhaustion. Of the six commercial breeds i originally had, i lost five of them to tumours and prolapse. Obviously i'm no expert on the subject and this is just my opinion but keep this in mind - i have never had this problem with any of my heritage breeds and some of them still lay five eggs a week on average, but maybe those couple of days off a week give their bodies the rest they need.
Well, apart from the fact that they are obviously very pretty, there were a few good reasons why my husband and I settled on this particular breed.
Firstly, they are dual purpose. Meaning they are good egg layers and good meat birds. They are one of the original dual purpose breeds, originating in America, and were once kept by many American farmers. (back in the day when we were all a bit more self sufficient)
They continue to lay eggs during the cooler months and on average lay approximately five eggs per week. (less during the cooler months)
They are a very tough breed and can withstand the cooler climates well.
They are a large or heavy breed of chicken.
They have an excellent temperment, quite docile and friendly.
They are not known for their broodiness. ( Well that's what i've been told. As yet none of my Barred Rocks have gone broody)
They are a heritage breed.
Mixed breeds weren't really a plan of ours, but i love the variety of chickens scratching about in the garden. Not too mention the different colours and shapes of all the eggs. All our chickens are good egg layers, so any cross breed should be as well. We have Aracaunas that lay blue coloured eggs, Naked Neck, Wyandotte, a few of our own mixed breeds from a previous rooster and of course the Dark Barred Plymouth Rocks.. and the rest. I must admit it is really fun to watch some of our mixed breed chicks grow - we just don't know what we are going to get and they certainly add some colour and variety to the mix. Check out the pictures of Julia and Blanche in our 'Chook Gallery' they have beautiful fan tails unlike any of our other chickens. Also - imagine a Naked Neck chicken.. with black and white barred feathers ! Probably not something you will see in most chicken yards.
Any sort of intensive farming is cruel. I probably don't need to tell you that and i'm sure if you read the papers you are very familiar with the plight of animal activists to stop this cruelty. If you want to keep chickens, please build them a decent run. Something that is big enough for them to peck around in, have their dirt baths and escape each other if they need too. If you have a big enough run, when you aren't home and can't let them out to free range, they still have room to move and you don't have to worry about getting home to lock the chooks up before the foxes get them. Not only is it peace of mind for you, your chickens will love you for it and you'll be rewarded with happy, healthy birds and lots of fresh eggs.
BUYING FREE RANGE POULTRY AND EGGS
Ok. again - i'm sure you know all about intensive farming but there is a problem with free range products and that is the price. It isn't cheap and when you are on a budget,raising a family and tackling a mortgage, every dollar at the check out counts.
Here's my tips to still buy free range and save your dollars.
Firstly - keeping chickens. They pay for themselves in eggs and fertiliser. Possibly one of the only pets that will actually save you money. However, i understand that not everyone is in a position to keep chickens. So if you can't and you want to buy free range eggs. Keep your ear out at the office, often people with chickens will sell their excess eggs at work. They will be cheaper and fresher than the supermarket and the money you pay for these eggs goes towards food etc for the chickens. They also have great homes. Most backyard poultry enthusiasts love their chickens and they really care for their poultry. So buying their eggs offers great support to these people.
If you don't know anyone that keeps chickens, keep your eye out when you are out and about. Often as soon as you start driving out of the suburbs you'll see signs on gates etc, where people sell free range eggs. Ask how fresh they are and a buy a few cartons. Maybe get some for your friend and they can return the favour when they are out and about next.
Free Range meat
I really don't eat as much chicken as i use too, but if i want to buy chickens or any sort of poultry these days it has to be free range. Free range chicken breast is really expensive. I've found the best thing to do is to buy a whole free range chicken. I actually grab a few when they are on sale. I cut the breasts off and the legs, freeze them in portions. I then use the torso to make chicken stock. I get a lot out of my six dollars per kilo. Sure it's a bit of extra work but it does save me that few extra dollars i always need at the check-out, and i feel good about my purchase.