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Backyard Chooks – What, where and when….

By ActuAli 23 April 2012 25

Hello Rioters,

I am hoping to get some information regarding back yard chickens in Canberra.

According to Dr Harry Cooper, Isa Browns are the best in terms of breeds for families just wanting pets to lay eggs. Does anyone have any opinions on this? We’re not interested in any fancy breeds. Just good, friendly chickens that produce ‘normal’ sized eggs on a fairly regular basis

At what age do they start to lay? We want birds that are ready (or almost ready) to lay.

Recommended breeders/sellers – where can we buy them, and what should we expect to pay?

At this stage, we’re looking to purchase 2 hens. Any other advice would be greatly appreciated.

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25 Responses to
Backyard Chooks – What, where and when….
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rapunzel1 5:26 am 12 Jun 12

Alpacas are fine depending upon the area they roam. We have 5 alpacas, female and male and still had a fox problem. We let the chickens, ducks and geese roam with the alpacas and sheep in approx. 5 acres. Everything was fine until we went out for approx. 2 hours, called the poultry in, only to find that two geese had been attacked by the foxes (heads bitten off which is a typical trait of the foxes). Foxes will stay away from dogs and people if they are aware that you are around. My advice is to keep the chickens well protected with fencing and definitely locked in at night. Foxes have been known to dig right under fencing and also will scale a 6 ft fence with barbed wire stranded at the top.
In regards to chicken types, Isa Browns are one of the best layers, they are a hybrid developed for their high egg laying capacity. Our Isa’s tend to last approx. 2 years then they end up in the pot. We tend to keep on introducing a new rooster ever 4 years to prevent any major malformations and breed the rest of the chickens that we need. The rooster is generally an Isa Brown or a Red/white leghorn, therefore the egg production is kept up. If you are interested in attractive chickens I would go for the pure breeds as mentioned before, but for egg production alone, Isa Browns or a cross of Isa/Leghorn is the best option. The birds are prone to a variety of diseases though, regardless of whether you live in the suburbs or the country. There are plenty of sites on the net indicating the problems with descriptions and photos.
In regards to age, layers range from 16-20 weeks old. Sometimes they take time to settle in, sometimes not, depending upon where you have bought them from. There are plenty of places to buy your chickens from. If you have children, day old chickens or week old chickens are cute and the kids can watch them grow up, though must admit that ducks and geese are cuter. Brooder boxes for the young chickens are cheap to buy or you can easily make your own.
Good luck in your purchases…they can be bought from a variety of pet shops also found in the classified ads on the net. Prices vary from $12-20 dependent upon age.

Bramina 7:45 pm 26 Apr 12

I hear alpacas are good for foxes.

dr. faustus 6:45 pm 24 Apr 12

Space wise, standard (ie large, not bantam sized) chooks need a minimum of 1sq m per chook in their pen. That’s an absolute minimum. Bantams need about half that per bird (again, that’s a bare minimum). 1.5 sq m per standard hen is a better space to aim for. Standard hens need about 30cm or perch space per bird. Perches should be a thick as an adult ankle. Chooks don’t grip onto the perch like a budgie, they need a broader surface to stand on.

In the ACT you definitely can keep roosters in suburbia. The ‘animal nuisance’ legislation applies to them, as it does with dogs. Check out the animal nuisance guidelines on the ACT government website. It’d be unusual to get noise complaints about hens (females) even though they can be loud when they all get going.

tommy 6:33 pm 24 Apr 12

Bellchambers at Fyshwick is the only place to go. Call ahead to order your hens (i think they get them n thursdays) and take a wonderful step in time that the whole family will enjoy. ours started laying the day we got them!

buzz819 6:20 pm 24 Apr 12

shirty_bear said :

Calamity said :

I really want to get a couple of chooks but we only live on a reasonably small block, so I’m a bit worried the chooks might be loud and frustrating to neighbours. Advice?

According to various sources (including previous RA chook threads), it’s roosters that get noisy. Which is presumably why you aren’t allowed to have them in suburbia. Hens make very little noise, and when they do it’s kinda pleasant and not real loud. I would think that only the grinchy-est of neighbours would have a problem. Maybe share a few glorious fresh eggs with them – you’ll likely have plenty to spare.

Holden Caulfield said :

What’s the life expectancy for a good laying hen? And what do people do with them when they’re no longer producing?

Our previous pair were re-homed so we didn’t know their exact age … but my guess is that they were 4.5 – 5 years old. An egg each every day for 18 months, then they both stopped cold within a couple of days of each other. Waited about 3 months for the laying to resume, but it didn’t. Decided that keeping non-laying chooks was pointless, so I … ummm … terminated them and got 2 brand new ones that work much better. Would’ve liked to have pensioned them off somewhere, but didn’t know who would want non-laying hens.

Hens will lay for a max 2-3 years, after this time they are roasts.

Isa Brown are great, I have 6, we got them from Neptunes Haven in Queanbeyan, I don’t really recommend them as I think they lied about how old the chooks were when we bought them.

Currently I am getting 4 eggs a day from the chooks, waiting for the two youngest ones to start laying after winter I should get 6 eggs a day.

To work out if a chook is close to laying you have to look at their combs, if they are pink and small they are too young to lay, when they get a nice red colour they will start laying.

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