Having chickens in the backyard is an idea that’s making quite a comeback in many suburbs in Australia. We haven’t had any since the move and I’m finding myself missing them more and more.
Last week I finally lashed out and bought the wire to renovate the old out-house out the back… Hopefully new chickens will be arriving in the next week or two. Since this property is a couple of acres and has a dam, it would be really neat to have some ducks and geese around. For some reason this idea has been stuck in the back of my mind. The property isn’t big enough to keep larger animals other than perhaps a goat… so chooks and geese would be great. But other than collecting the eggs, putting the manure in compost and letting them eat all the slugs and snails, what do you do with breeding geese?
Yesterday I was in the butcher’s and asked “Just supposing someone local was raising free range geese. Do you think…. ” He jumped in gleefully, “Yes there’s a market and yes I’ll sell them!” Oh. Okay. The thought of being able to offload a few extra featheries that I wouldn’t be able to kill myself was okay… but then he starts developing an ad hoc business plan for me, taking a dozen clean birds to the local farmers’ markets and taking orders etc. etc. I like the idea of a hobby paying for itself, but the transition to farming birds destined for the table will be a bit of a leap. If anything, at least it will be more competition for Confined Animal Feedlot farms and that is always a good thing.
So, to go along with all the gardening and cooking articles for those who haven’t had a go before, but think they might like to, here’s links to three of my favourite Australian sites for poultry information. Backyard poultry, Backyard Poultry info centre and Chooknet.
There’s a lot more info on keeping chickens there than I could fit into a blog post… so feel free to have a squizz and see what you think.
Initially I wanted a couple of hens simply for the free range eggs. Then discovered all the wonderful rare breeds that are around. Araucanas, for instance, include a lovely blue or lavender colour and lay blue or green shelled eggs. Barnevelders and Wyandottes are gorgeous, some with “laced” feathers that give a beautiful shimmering scale effect to the birds’ plumage. Not only are you getting eggs from healthy, happy birds but they’re really pretty to have in the garden too. If you don’t have a rooster, you still get eggs.
Out here in the country, there’s room for a rooster. Then, thinking about the dam and wanting some extra protection from foxes, the idea of geese came up and now that seems to have taken on a life of it’s own.
There’s a spot out back that will be sheltered from the worst of the weather and doesn’t get too damp. They can have the run of the home yard and paddock during the day which is a lot of space to keep them healthy. I’m choosing breeds that are robust and not aggressive, having made that mistake once already. Now all I have to do is build the coop.