Eggs by the dozen amend 2

One of the many delights of having some wide open space where we live is the opportunity it provides to run some poultry flocks, and the fun and wholesome produce that this provides.

Two chooks - Austrolorp w Rhode Is Red bantamThe initial flock of ducks that we had for a short while chose to move to other surrounds, but since then, the chickens that we’ve been running in a couple of locations have been a great success.

In all we currently have 6 birds, and they are providing us with a great quantity of eggs, usually between 3 – 5 each day now that they are laying again. And I mean some of the richest coloured, best tasting, freshest eggs you’ve every had the joy to eat.

There’s is a whole world of poultry out there to explore including a vast multitude of breeds, and egperts, with a range of web-sites and forums available as resources for information. My favourites include Feathersite, Organic Chickens, and the Organic Chickens Yahoo group. Australian publications include Alannah Moore’s egcellent book "Backyard Poultry, Naturally", and Jackie French’s "The Chook Book" – both are worthwhile obtaining.

Our girls are a mix of Australorps, Rhode Island Reds, and Rhode Island Red bantams,
and we have chosen these breeds for the very scientific reason that
they were what was on offer when we wanted our first chickens!

We
house them in a run over a few of the beds that we are creating in our
market garden paddock, as the other big advantage is the scratching and
digging that they do, very effectively removing grass and weeds from
the beds. Obviously they are adding their manure to the area at the
same time too, a great win-win situation. We intend to have a few
mobile chook runs with Electric Netting Fence
to contain them once the market garden is up and running. The first
area we had them in was the rundown shadehouse that needed a good clean
out and the girls did a wonderful job.Bantam 3 - Roadrunner

Obviously the girls also take all the vegetable food scraps from our kitchen and turn them into manure too.

It’s
important to provide the chook’s with protection from a range of
predators, so sturdy housing that they can return to each night is a
must, and some cover for them during the day is good too. Here on the
Mid North Coast of New South Wales, the main antagonists are foxes, eagles and kites, and egg-loving goannas. Unfortunately, we’ve had visits from a very keen kite, who
found his way into the shadehouse and killed one of our girls, and the
resident goanna, who visited a few times until he mistakenly swallowed
an ivory cue ball we had in the nesting box as a decoy egg!

As
for their care, after providing them with suitable housing, food and
water, the best practice is to include garlic in their drinking water,
and also add some apple cider vinegar to the water on a regular basis.
We have been following this practice and to date have had no problems.

It’s
fun to watch the girls go about their activity, and note the pecking
order (yes they do have one!), the inquisitiveness of them all, and how
social and communal they are. And on occasion when they get out, it’s
even fun to chase and catch them, although I must admit, this can
become wearisome!

image credit organic maven

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Near River Produce - Real food direct from our farm located on the NSW Mid North Coast