The chickens are also known as the feather children. They are an integral part of the homesteading way of life. In case you didn’t realise, chickens are the gateway drug to homesteading. The hens give us eggs, when they’re not being tricksy, some of the chickens provide us with meat, they help to deal with the weeds and food leftovers and they help turn the compost piles. They are also fascinating to watch.
We breed Australorps here and they are the only breed we have at the moment. They are a great dual-purpose, heavy, heritage breed, useful for both eggs and meat. Their heaviness means they are less likely to escape over fences. They are a friendly, docile breed, which means they are great for families and more tolerant of new additions or changes to the flock. Australorps are more inclined to go broody than lighter breeds and commercial hybrids, which is very useful if you want to hatch your own chicks and have a sustainable flock. They were historically exceptional egg layers, but looks-focused breeding has made the laying abilities of some lines more average. We’re working on that here. Well, we’re actually working on all the things:
- Looks according to the breed standard
- Good health
- Good egg-laying
- Good natures
It’s a process, but it’s a fun process. The flock of chickens is a fluctuating thing, as we hatch, grow, sell and dispatch various chickens. This page is an attempt keep their profiles reasonably up to date. So, who do we have at the moment?
5 years old. The matriarch, sole survivor of our original three hens, who seems to survive everything. Main plotlines: Serial broodiness, excellent mumma to many chicks, hardy and obviously well-suited to our environment. Carries a small amount of red feather genetics, so offspring have to be managed.
2 years old. One of our first incubator-raised chicks. Main plotlines: Big & hefty as a chick, one of the front-runners for head hen now that Paris has gone. Mum of previous roosters Chippee Hackee and Mr Anderson.
2 years old. One of our first incubator-raised chicks. Main plotlines: A good layer, always on the move, one of our most stable hens. A front-runner for head hen. Mum of roosters Winston Cheepers and Todd.
1 year old. Daughter of Frodo & Darrington (maybe). Main plotlines: Turning into a serial broody at her new home, so enrolled in an exchange programme with Duchess. A question mark about whether her father was Darrington or red-feather-gene-carrying Thomas. An excellent, sweet mother. Being used for mothering abilities rather than breeding.
1 year old. Daughter of Jemima & Andrew. Main plotlines: Friendly and fluffy but a real pecker in the nestbox – a force to be reckoned with when broody. Has successfully raised one batch of chicks. Regularly lays giant eggs.
1 year old. Daughter of Tiggywinkle & Andrew. Main plotlines: A friendly girl who isn’t afraid of much. Seems to have aspirations of greatness.
11 months old. Daughter of Frodo & Andrew. Main plotlines: Our most curious girl who likes to be the centre of attention and does everything in a flamboyant manner. A great layer.
11 months old. Daughter of Frodo & Andrew. Main plotlines: A big girl of great stature, probably our biggest. Laid eggs in various awkward places before finally discovering how to lay in a nestbox.
7 months old. Daughter of Duchess & Mr Anderson. Main plotlines: One of Mr Anderson’s only female offspring, but could potentially carry red feather genes from Duchess if she was sired by Thomas instead of Darrington. A nice colour and has started laying.
7 months old. Daughter of Duchess & Mr Anderson. Main plotlines: One of Mr Anderson’s only female offspring, but could potentially carry red feather genes from Duchess if she was sired by Thomas instead of Darrington. A nicely-shaped girl who has just started laying.
9 months old. Son of Tiggywinkle & Chippee Hackee. Main plotlines: Head rooster, a beautiful, pleasant chap who is managing the flock well. Still a question mark about whether his dad, Chippee Hackee, was sired by Darrington or red-feather-gene-carrying Thomas. His offspring will tell.
My Top 5 Quick Tips For Keeping Chickens
- Join a good Facebook poultry group or two.
- The Chicken Chick – browse, learn, use.
- At least once a month.
- Night time – easier to grab, calmer.
- Appearance – healthy comb and feathers? Lethargic? Droopy?
- Behaviour in relation to flock – hiding away? Aggression? Broodiness?
- Poop analysis – learn what is ok and what requires investigation.
If a chicken is sick you basically have three options:
- Treat yourself and get someone to help if you can.
- Take to a vet.
- Health – if a chicken seems sick or ‘off’, deal with it ASAP. ‘Wait and see’ does not work, waiting = a chicken in pain or dead.
- Roosters – if you hatch chicks, have a plan for dealing with roosters. Dumping a highly domesticated animal is not an option.
- Sharing – pass on your chicken addiction, I mean knowledge, to others.