Plans for Chookonia

I’m a woman on a mission.

I have made a startling discovery: it is impossible to buy point-of-lay Australorp or Isa Brown pullets in Mackay. Whaaaaa?! They’re only some of the most reliable layers, placid, easy to care for, friendly, undemanding and healthy chickens around. The Australorps were bred specifically for the Australian climate and Australian conditions.

The Girls. Three Australorps and three Isa Browns.

The Girls. Three black Australorps and three red Isa Browns. I miss them…

According to the feed store where you can buy day old chicks, there’s “no demand”. Everyone these days wants the fancy breeds, for prettiness and cuteness, as pets for the children. I could have as many Silkies, bantams of every kind, Indian Game Hens, quail, guinea fowl and other exotica as I wish. What I can’t get is reliable layers of the right age.

I love my Australorps. But I may have to substitute another good laying breed, and I’ll probably have to buy them further south and have them shipped up here. I want POL birds so I don’t spend months feeding them before they start laying, and so that they’re old enough that I know they’ve had their innoculations. No point in starting a flock with ailing birds.

But first, we have to construct their quarters. In my previous life, I had large and spacious chicken accommodation, a fenced yard under large old trees for shade, and a quarter acre paddock where they could roam freely. It was known as the Chook Mahal. We’re a bit more restricted in the new house, having no old trees in a suitable spot, we will need to construct the chook house, the enclosed yard and a fence for their free ranging area. I’m already planning to grow a passionfruit vine over the enclosed yard for the dual purpose of giving the Girls some good shade whilst at the same time ensuring the passionfruit gets plenty of chickeny goodness at its roots. I anticipate a regular supply of fruit!

The plan is that the chook house (to be known hereafter as Chookonia) will be fairly large and on a concrete slab so it drains well and can be hosed down. Apart from the nesting boxes it will be mostly open but roofed over, so that they have an outside area to scratch around in when the rain is torrential and they can’t spend much time in the yard. There’s no problem about keeping them cosy in this climate. The concrete floor and the ground in the enclosed yard will be thickly covered in straw or sugar cane trash so they can have a lovely scratch, poo over everything and eventually I get to cart it away and put it on the garden. Outside the yard, they can scratch and range in the orchard area and help clean up the fallen fruit.

But first we have to demolish the dilapidated and termite-ridden wreck of a shed that’s already there, lay a concrete slab and construct a carport, lockable store room, and the aforementioned chicken accommodation at one end. And we have to get a water tank to catch the rain off the roof, as there’s no water laid on at that end of the garden, and I don’t want to haul water all the way up there every day.

Just a little bit of work to do, then….

21 thoughts on “Plans for Chookonia

  1. Kim says:

    I love your plan and HOW you plan. No messing about, let’s just get it done! 🙂 May Chookonia be created and forever reign!

  2. Elizabeth says:

    Sounds like LOTS of work to do – but you will get it done, no doubt!

  3. tialys says:

    It would be nice to start with a new flock. We have a superannuated cockerel, an old Gascogne Black and two Sussex Lights who take it in turns to go broody. I actually had to buy some eggs the other day and., no matter how much you pay, they are never the same.

    • katechiconi says:

      You’re so right! Even the hideously expensive free range eggs in the supermarket just don’t have the depth of flavour you get with eggs produced by hens that have searched out their own food and live on a balanced diet of bugs, grass, seeds, grain, worms and whatever they fancy.

  4. Bon courage for all the work, and I hope you find the p.o.l. chicks you want.. Maybe putting your need on Facebook would find you a willing seller?
    In the UK, the favoured birds for dual purpose laying and table were Rhode Island Red crossed with Light Sussex. My mum first kept them in a London suburban garden during the war, and I kept them too when I was a Mum, in Warwicksire.

    • katechiconi says:

      Oh, I love the Rhodies, and Light Sussex are pretty. If I can’t get Australorps or Isas, I shall go for Wyandottes or Barnevelders, both beautiful breeds which are medium large and good layers.

  5. can’t you place an ad on internet for the choocks you want ?

    • katechiconi says:

      I could, but I have already googled to see if I can find breeders – they’re all at least 600km away. If I want them, we’ll have to drive down ourselves and collect them – the hens would not survive a journey up to Mackay in a truck in the heat over that distance.

      • I think is is for the the keepers you have to look, maybe they have a few chicks too many, farmers or just ordinary people who keep them for eggs…..

      • katechiconi says:

        I have been looking over fences and at every farm we pass to see if there are black chickens, but there are none…. 😦

      • bummer ! I didn’t know it was that difficult ! We have regular animal markets where you can buy choocks, rabbits, pidgions, birds, ducks etc, no cats or dogs, that is forbidden. Hope you’ll find what you want !

  6. I’m visiting friends in Canada, and the view from the back porch includes the neighbour’s chook house – a recycled children’s cubby house. It looks very snazzy.

    • katechiconi says:

      Sounds as if they’re extremely pampered ladies! The Wet is due to start in a couple of months, and if we can get everything in place before then, I’ll be very happy, otherwise I think it’ll have to wait till the end of March 😦

  7. Good luck with finding the exact hens you want. POL hybrids are so easy to get in the UK that I had assumed you would have no problem. Our two newbies are already giving us a good supply of eggs and they came from a place about 8 miles away.

    • katechiconi says:

      I want this particular breed because they’re good layers, strong, placid and quite beautiful birds. If I wanted something fancy that lays only 200 eggs a year, I’d have no problem. I think I’ve found someone just south of Rockhampton who breeds them, but that’s a 5 hour drive, and it’s the closest! Distances are so much greater here… And if I’d stayed in NSW, I’d have had no trouble at all!

  8. Kirsten says:

    You’re going to have a chicken palace in the garden. Whichever breed you go for, they will be very lucky chickens.

  9. Lynda says:

    I am catching up with your new home news, and impressed with your ideas for your chickens! I am also embarrassed that I couldn’t come up with your plan for the water needs of the flock! It rains a lot here and I have been wondering about dragging 300 feet of hose down to the proposed new Chicken Palace. I am roofing the new CP with tin, so why not catch that water for their drinking needs? Smart, very smart!

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