Our aim it to get ourselves some chooks soon, so right now I’m researching chook breeds. We don’t want commercial hybrids like Isa Browns, the same way I don’t want commercial hybrid fruits and veggie seeds, so I’m looking into heritage and rare breed chooks. I’m partial to something interesting, a chook with a bit of colour.
There are so many different breeds! I didn’t realise I’d have so much choice! So far breeds I’m considering are: Faverolle, Dorking, Ancona, Plymouth Rock, Lakenvelder, Australorp, Andalusian, Barnevelder, Houdan, Minorca, Orpington, Light Sussex, Welsummer and Wyandotte. However, I’ve not been through all the breeds yet, and I’m not sure if all these breeds are available in Australia.
To help with making a choice I am in the midst of constructing a table listing all the points that are important to me, trying to gather most of my resources from Australia, considering that is where we live. It’s quite a big affair. I’ll publish it at some point, when it’s mostly compplete, with hopefully a list of the chooks we chose.
We don’t have a chook shed yet, nor do we have a chook dome for our planned circle gardens, but we have come to an arrangement with our neighbours. They have an empty chook shed and yard and hadn’t decided whether or not they would get chooks, so I proposed us getting some chooks and keeping them in their chook shed and sharing the eggs. They’re doing up their chook shed even as I write this! We won’t be ready to have chooks in our mandala garden system for quite some time yet and I am so sick of buying supermarket ‘free range’ eggs where my idea of free range of chooks roaming around in big paddocks is not necessarily the reality.
Something I found really interesting was how different the yellow of the eggs are from true free ranged chooks to the free range ones I’ve been buying from the supermarket. I saw the hard boiled yolks of a friends free ranged hens eggs and they were almost a curry yellow green in colour. At first I thought they were curried eggs, but no, it’s because these chooks free range. My supermarket free range eggs are not that yellow when hard boiled! Apparently it has something to do with the amount of fresh greens the chooks get!
Interesting colour is an important factor in choosing our chooks, but it’s not the only one. Mostly we want fresh eggs, so we want chooks that are decent layers, and we want chooks that are nice meat birds too as we plan on eating any roosters we get. We also want chooks that are placid, not flighty or aggressive. They need to be hardy too. We get 40 degree days here in summer, thankfully not regularly, and in winter, at night, it can get down to -5! So the girls are going to need to be able to cope with both the heat and the cold.