Rule the Roost
For Mona Vale resident Amanda Walsh, chickens have been part of the family for more than four years. Before she even had children, Amanda and her partner knew they wanted their kids to grow up understanding where food comes from. Chickens laying eggs in their own backyard was a perfect way to teach this. “It is really easy to care for chickens," she says. "Apart from the setup of their coop, the feeding and care of them is quite straightforward.”
While the best part of keeping chickens is never being short of eggs, Amanda concedes the amount of poo they produce is definitely a con.
“They can get a bit smelly.” she laughs. We would like to let them roam in our yard a bit more but they leave too much mess, which isn't ideal for our toddler who prefers to be in the yard In bare feet.
“Our dog does not like them either. He still barks at them in the coop, which can drive me insane, but the chickens just Peck him back, which is hilarious.”
Avalon-based Jacqui Turner also feels keeping chickens was a great experience for her kids. "When they were young they used to just go and sit with the chooks, just hanging out” she says.” I think they gained a basic insight into how things work farming wise, as well as learning the Importance of recycling, and self-sufficiency."
Jacqui says another benefit of having chooks include the natural fertiliser they produce for the garden.
“Banana trees I planted In the coop grow like crazy compared to others in the garden.” she explains, “and I have herbs and tomatoes getting the ‘run-off’ - or nutrients - from the coop. I also use their rubbish to make compost for the veggie patch. It's a cycle that makes me very happy.”
Sophia Anania from Turramurra also decided to keep chickens for the fresh eggs, pest control and fertiliser. She says her three children have learnt a lot from keeping chickens. “They learn about where eggs come from and important lessons about the cycle of life,” she reveals.
“For example, we can't leave food scraps uneaten in their pen because it attracts rats. And we can't spray Insecticides In the backyard incase the chocks eat a poisoned bug. So the kids learn subtle lessons about the importance of not upsetting the balance of nature and not poisoning our surroundings.”
Wahroonga resident, Ainslie Sumner, Initially took on chickens to help with the weeding.
“'We live on a relatively large block that was completely overgrown with weeds when we bought it, and we didn't want to use chemical sprays on such a large scale,” she explains. “We did our research and determined chickens were the best option. They had the weeds under control in a matter of weeks.
“We have subsequently developed a garden based on Permaculture design principles, of which the chickens — and all they do, like pest control weed control compost — are an integral part The eggs and entertainment they provide area bonus.”
For Ainslie, the most surprising part of keeping chickens has been discovering how much personality and individual character the “girls” have.
“Once you get chickens you keep wanting more,” she says. "On a more depressing note, keeping chickens, some of which are rescued battery and cage hens, and seeing the personalities they have has made me realise the appalling state of our poultry industry and how horrifically we treat these beautiful animals. We are now very careful about where we Purchase poultry products from."