Top 5 – Reasons why we got chickens

Just over a week ago we made the trip from Coburg to Cranbourne South and as well as visiting the fabulous Australia Garden we also stopped in at Craig’s Farm and bought 3 ‘day old’ (well actually they are 4 days old but still very young) chicks.  They are very cute.  Their names are Banksia, Buttercup and Bottle Brush.  My 3 year old named the first one after being very pleased with the sound of the word Banksia and spent most of his time in the gardens saying it very loudly indeed.  Miss 6 named Buttercup and given I think alliteration is essential when naming pets Bottle Brush was christened.  In retrospect I wish we’d thought of Bouganvillea but Bottle Brush was the first B flower name my partner came up with.

Here they are, outside for the first time, but still protected by the cage my partner believes they should be in at all times.  Don’t tell him but Mr 3 and I took them out today and just let them run around.  He, he, he.  I can rely on him to never read my blog, but unfortunately I can’t rely on Mr 3 not telling him so I may still be in trouble for bad chick parenting….

Chickens

So why did we decide to get chickens?  Here are my top 5 reasons:

  • I think its good for kids to have pets but I am neither a cat nor dog person.  I am of the firm belief that pets should be functional as well as fun to care for.  Chickens are clearly functional (I am very much looking forward to eggs) and I think they will also make fabulous low maintenance pets.
  • I hate supermarket shopping, to the point that the last time I went to Woolworths I abandoned my trolley full of shopping after the cashier was rude to the woman 2 people in front of me in the queue.  Anyway the only time I ever find myself at the supermarket is when I completely run out of things for dinner and the market is shut for the day.  Now I will have eggs on hand so the hope is I will always have something for dinner.
  • Free manure – the benefits of this are obvious – but its fair to say that I’m envisioning very large tomatoes indeed….
  • Fresh eggs – I’m really excited about having eggs so fresh they will poach beautifully.  My understanding is that the fresher the egg the better it poaches and these eggs will be very fresh indeed.
  • Entertainment value – I have already spent quite a bit of time watching the chicks, observing their behaviour and deriving enjoyment from seeing how they interact.  Image how exciting it will be when they actually get to leave their box and do something useful like eating all the bugs I find around the garden.
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50 Responses to Top 5 – Reasons why we got chickens

  1. Very fresh eggs poach magnificently, and the only way to get good poached eggs is to use same day eggs. The whites stay together and the yolk has a lovely glaze of white over it. If I don’t have very fresh eggs, I don’t poach them!

  2. We have 3 chickens that we’ve had since they were 3 day sold. It was the best decision I’ve ever made! We’re now just waiting for them to lay, they’re about 16 weeks old.

  3. I can see the attraction and many people have chickens on our allotment site but I’d worry about leaving animals there and also it would mean visiting every day. We could have some in the garden I suppose but that wouldn’t be very practical and we wouldn’t be as free to go away when we wanted.

    • Liz says:

      We had chickens when we were kids and I remember dad setting them up with a big feeder and drinker that meant we could leave then for longer periods. We did have a neighbour look in occasionally but otherwise they are fairly self sufficient.

  4. Bek says:

    Wow, they look so cute! I did consider chickens but my grandmother has them and always gives me eggs. So now I have ducks. I’ve only had them for just on 5 weeks but I think they’re great and wish I’d got them ages ago. I put their bedding and pond water on the garden and its remarkable the difference its made! And I totally agree with Linda – only the freshest eggs should be poached.

    • Liz says:

      I have high hopes for the improvement in the garden. Your ducks look like so much fun. Is it ducks that effectively ‘mow’ the lawn?

  5. Mark Willis says:

    An attractive prospect… In due course you will have to think carefully about the damage those three could cause to seedlings and young plants if not restrained. If I had chickens I’d have to increase my anti-fox precautions a lot!

    • Liz says:

      We have a hopefully fox resistent home for them which they will spend most of their time in. But I will let them onto the garden bits at a time to clean up and generally help it along.

  6. I adore the Australia garden in Cranbourne, so much to see and beautiful to wade in the water on a hot day. Those chickens are just beautiful.

  7. Someday some chicks will come, until then I’ll enjoy yours, virtually and vicariously…

  8. Michelle says:

    Cute, cute, and cute!

  9. We keep chickens in a tiny urban yard in California. They are very entertaining, but they sure destroy our grass!

    • Liz says:

      I’m hoping they will keep mine a little bit more in check than it is at present – essentially a big weed infested mess.

  10. Norma Chang says:

    So cute, would love to have a few chicks but cannot in my development.

  11. Emily says:

    Congrats on your new chicks. It is a lot of fun to watch them grow. We’ve had our 4 for two years now. This winter the eggs have slowed down considerably and I’m wondering if its time to add a few more to the flock.

  12. foodnstuff says:

    You’ll love them and come to realise it’s the best decision you ever made. But you didn’t say what breeds!

  13. Nina says:

    I love my girls. I have two now, though originally three (sad story!). When they hear me come home from work at the end of the day, they noisily belt to the back door to greet me (yeah, I know, they think I have food). They are such a funny welcoming party and they always make me smile.

    I’m surprised at how destructive they are for two little creatures, though! Being a softie, I can’t leave them in their (very small) pen all day and these days, I don’t even lock them up at night. They love being independent and being able to please themselves when they get out and what they get up to. My back yard has good fencing but if something like a cat or a fox really wanted to get in, they would. I’m taking a risk I guess, but I think the quality of life they are experiencing now, sorta makes up for it. So far, so good! 🙂

    I’m thinking of getting someone to build a proper run but time and finances aren’t on my side, right now. One day.

    • Liz says:

      I hope your luck continues. We lost lots of chooks to foxes when I was a kid – always sad. I will keep ours locked up at night but hope to funnel them into different parts of the garden during the day. We shall see – I’m hoping they wont be too destructive….. I’m definitely looking forward to them eating grubs.

  14. Balvinder says:

    So cool! I grew up in a home where we have fresh vegetables and eggs from our home. Here in Richmond people can keep chicks who live on the outskirts but not in cities. But I would love to have chicks whenever the city ruling changes.

    • Liz says:

      Here it depends on the local council. Most allow you to keep a couple of hens, mine lets you keep up to 6 without a permit but no roosters (unless you get a permit – which one of my neighbours must have done as I often hear him crowing).

  15. Sarah says:

    You should be eating perfect poached eggs before long – we collect freshly laid eggs (still warm) and have eggs for breakfast on Sundays. The only down side to having hens is that they can tear apart a bed of lettuces in a matter of seconds if you turn your back on them, but on the whole they’re great to have around!

  16. I can sign my name on all five reasons. Those little chicks are adorable. I can’t wait for a day when I have my own garden again, my animals (I also look into getting goats and sheep, just a few)…

    • Liz says:

      My parents have sheep and we had pet sheep growing up – they are fun. We also had goats but they were more problematic as they can be quite grumpy and aggressive (or at least one of ours was).

  17. Congratulations and welcome to the world of chickens! I love having our 3 girls, and aside from the eggs they do make great low maintenance pets, and just make us laugh at their funny antics all the time. Just don’t let them get into any of your beautiful vegie garden unless you really mean it…!

  18. Tim says:

    Great stuff Liz! Thanks for your blog it’s been so helpful for someone who is gardening in the next suburb to you!

    Two questions:
    1. Have you thought about the problem of rats with your chickens?
    2. Do you have a “what to do in the kitchen garden in Feb/March?

    Thanks!

    • Liz says:

      Thanks Tim – I really appreciate the feedback. In answer to your first question – yes. A friend of mine who gardens in Preston actually had her chooks kill a rat – I hope mine are that useful. If not I have new ammunition in the form of a rat zapper mum & dad got me at the Seymour farming expo. Don’t know if it works but I will certainly give it a try. I’m also kind of hoping that the rats eat the chook food rather than our veg but I suspect we will just get more rats and thsu lose more veg.

  19. I have come over here following Clare’s link in her blog post (life of clare). I can tell I am going to love your blog but thought I would stop and comment – we have had chickens for the past 7 years. The poached eggs are sublime.

    We take the view that they are producers firsts and pets second, this has helped the kids understand that when they are past their laying prime they go to a friend who kills and eats them. We still name them and love them but their role in our food chain has been a great lesson for our kids.
    Off to read some more…
    Carol

    • Liz says:

      I think I may need a friend who will kill and eat them, although I suspect my own levels of sentimentality (not to mention my partners) may actually be higher than the kids and it will be me that wont let them go.

  20. Louise says:

    Oooh lovely! I cant wait to get my chookies… I need to build a really good house first becasue there are foxes and snakes and goannas here.

    Are you sure you have hens??? Have they been sexed, or are you taking a punt?

    And what breed are they?

    • Liz says:

      My friend gardens near Bega and she has lot quite a number of birds to goannas. I would never have though they would be such an issue. They are guaranteed to be hens so if the sexer got it wrong back they go… They are mongrels – ISA Brown, Australorp and something else X.

  21. Those are really nice. You have to protecet them from snakes and foxes.

  22. Jodie says:

    Congratulations on the chickens… won’t be long before they are all grown up! so enjoy the cuteness while it lasts. The poo will do wonders for the garden – probably offset by some level of destruction at some stage… I just try and tell myself whatever goodness they have managed to scoff down will manifest in my poached eggs. I haven’t bought eggs for 2 years now…. but admit there are the occassional egg droughts… that just requires some creativity for an egg free month and makes you appreciate them more once the girls start laying again.

  23. dirtgirl says:

    Chooks – one of my fav subjects. I now own 11 chooks of varying breeds and sizes from Bantams to full size Isa Browns. My chooks are purely for pleasure, they are so entertaining or should that read – ‘time wasters’ and definitely not for meat,(yuk, could not imagine eating a pet chicken just because it stopped laying eggs) although getting eggs is an added bonus. (Six of my chooks were adopted or rescued)
    They turn the soil wonderfully well and we fence them off on a piece of ground we want as a veg bed and they duly dig it over removing all the weeds and bugs! No machine could ever achieve the degree of microscopic turnover of soil they perform!
    Plus of course there is the manure they supply, so they certainly earn their keep in my garden. My little grandsons adore the chickens and even one of my dogs a Border Collie is happy to sit alongside their run and keep a watchful eye on them.
    As for snakes and foxes, none here where I live, just loads of lizards and birds!

    • Liz says:

      What a lovely lot of chickens. I do like the idea of them cultivating your soil for you. How long do you give them on an area before planting it?

  24. JohnMich says:

    Hi Liz!
    I love this segment and the comments. One of my deepest wishes is for time and circs to allow us to have chooks. In the meantime we are avid watchers of a US site http://www.backyardchickens.com which has some marvellous comentary and an excellent section on coop design including many ideas on keeping the chooks safe from predators. Plus for good measure the Brisbane City Council’s website has a section on fox proofing larger chook runs. Hope this helps.
    Many regards, John

    • Liz says:

      I’m really enjoying our chickens, although they are more unpredictable than I thought. Perching on top of the hills hoist comes to mind…..

  25. MrRW says:

    You will never regret having chickens.
    We have had ours for three years, and just this summer, we incubated eggs – a wonderful thing to do with children.
    Just discovered your blog – it’s the bee knees.

    We also live in the northern suburbs of Melb.
    Your May guide to gardening is very useful – so thank you.

  26. Pingback: Should a gardener keep chooks? | Suburban Tomato

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