These little farmyard creatures have become household favourites for their ability to clean up the kitchen scraps, provide fantastic garden fertaliser, free range organic eggs and endless fascination for the little people in your household!
Breed: Do your research. If you are after chickens with a short lifespan but a high laying capacity, a hybrid like the Hyline Brown may suit, but if you are after a chicken to get attached to and are not in a hurry to get those eggs, another breed may be more up your alley. A good resource for this discussion is the Australian Poultry Forum
Where to get them: Most fodder stores will sell chickens, but they are also often for sale on Gumtree.
What you need to set up: A chicken hutch to protect them from the elements (or the neighbourhood cat) and a comfy nest box for them to lay their eggs. Depending on the size of your yard you may like for them to roam free, or keep them enclosed in a chicken run but be mindful to allow them enough space to move around. you can buy these online, or make your own with some hardware from Bunnings.
What they eat: Chickens are fantastic at cleaning up your food scraps and producing high quality garden fertaliser. You can also purchase pellets to keep on supply for around $30 for thirty kilos. You also need to keep a good supply of fresh water from a clean dish for them daily, especially in the warmer months.
Should you get more than one?: Chickens are social creatures so two or three chickens will create a better environment for them to effectively lay.
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How many eggs to expect: A chicken lays approximately one egg per day, once again this depends on the age and breed of the chicken.
Lifespan: Chickens lifespans vary but their effective laying span can be from one year to seven years.
Basic Chicken care: Change the straw and bedding in the coop once a month. Keep an eye on them making sure they are alert, healthy and have shiny feathers. If you would like your chickens to be kept as pets, 'house training' them is a good idea. You can train your chickens not to peck at your children and by cuddling them often they become tamer but before that is the case, always supervise interactions between young children and pets.
Do be very careful with children around their droppings though, ingestion could make them very ill and always wash their hands thoroughly after contact just as a precaution.