Housing chooks is by no means a new concept with people on the land enjoying fresh 'free range' home-grown eggs for generations. It is the suburban 'chook' (as it's affectionately known in Australia) that is making the new appearance. This environmentally sustainable pet turns your leftover scraps into up to 6 eggs per chook per week. There is nothing like the taste of a fresh egg from your beloved pets. However, they won't eat everything you throw away - rockmelon and banana skins for example need first to be put in the compost bin, then they can distribute the contents after they have broken down along with their poultry mulch, which is great to put all around the garden. It is advisable to put out the scraps in the morning, so the chooks have all day to clean them up – you don't want to attract any unsavoury visitors in the evening (such as mice or possums). This is a general rule for all pet food.
Pets with no demands
Chooks are happy residing in either a simple construction 'Made with Love' or an extravagant fortress found in produce or hardware stores. Traditionally they are a combination of chicken wire to keep them in (and predators out), wooden structures and some corrugated iron. The chooks like to lay their eggs in a nesting box of some kind, lined with hay or straw for warmth and comfort. To encourage laying, place a golf ball as a 'dummy egg' in their nesting box to give them a subtle hint!
You can pick up a bag of 'chook' food from most produce or pet stores as well as some shell grit to help keep their egg shells hard. Lime is useful to sprinkle around the ground once in a while to keep any smell or mites under control, particularly if there's been a lot of rain and they are unable to have their regular 'dust' bath. Another good hint is to trim their flight feathers on one side to prevent them from getting airborne.
Sustainable system for bugs and weed control
So how do they weigh up in the companion stakes? There's something quite relaxing about sitting and watching chooks go about their daily routine. Whether their scratching about in the garden searching for a buried treat (perfect for keeping certain bugs and weeds at bay), enjoying a good old 'bath' in the soft dirt or just laying down spreading their wings to sunbake when the weather allows. Are they trainable? Yes, I have seen firsthand a chook jumping up into the air to get food out of their owners hand as well as chasing after a ball.
So, what are you waiting for, the chook pet can help your household to eat healthier, act greener and find a new way to enjoy your free time!