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.
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….