Livestock

Treasure your backyard chooks

By Geoff Adams

As the days get longer a change is triggered in chooks across the nation.

In what is an awesome trick of nature, a gland in the hen’s brain picks up that winter is coming to an end, and signals to their body to start, restart or ramp up egg production.

This phenomenon, known as 'spring flush', makes now the perfect time to set up your chooks to spring into another laying season, says poultry enthusiast and animal nutritionist with Barastoc Poultry, Elise Davine.

“It’s great to see the number of people who have chooks on the rise again," she said.

"Whether people get them primarily for eggs, as pets, to help teach kids, or to help break down food scraps and fertilise the garden, the basics of supporting your chooks’ health and performance remains the same.

“We’ve developed a list of top 10 tips that outline just how to coach your girls to gold-medal performance in terms of health, wellbeing and egg-laying.

"It’s all about team selection, having room to move, disease and injury prevention, and nutrition.”

Ms Davine encourages people, whether they have a few chooks in a suburban backyard or a few dozen on the farm, to run through these tips during Barastoc National Chook Health Week, which this year is from Monday, September 9 to Sunday, September 15.

For more information on Barastoc National Chook Health Week, visit barastocpoultry.com.au

This week, Barastoc is suggesting chook owners:

1. Do their Chook Check-up:Do your Chook Check-up to ensure your flock is fit for spring. The Chook Check-up Checklist is a simple, six-step checklist outlineing what poultry owners should look for to check their chooks are fit and ready for another season of laying eggs.

2. Share the care:Share with your family and friends on social media that you have completed your Chook Check-up and encourage them to take charge of their chooks’ health too, by sharing the Chook Check-up Complete social media sticker. Remember to use the #readytoroost and #checkyouchooks hashtags.

3. Print, play and read the Top 10 Tips for Healthy Hens:Whether you have a small flock already or are just thinking about starting out, Barastoc is happy to share the top 10 tips for keeping backyard layers in peak hen health. It's fun, egg-concertina design means that once printed out, children can cut and fold it, with adult supervision of course.

4. Give their chicken coop a good spring clean:“Pull on your gloves and clean out dirty nesting and other dropping build-ups because hens like to lay in a place that’s clean and secure,” Ms Davine said.

5. Ensure feathered friends are getting the right feed:Egg-laying is very demanding on a hen and you need to make sure she’s getting everything she needs to stay healthy and produce quality, nutritious eggs.“Remember that you get back what you put in – the better the quality of the feed, the better the quality of the eggs you’ll get,” Ms Davine said.