Hybrids or ISA Browns are great layers for first-time owners; look for pullets at the ‘point of lay’, around 16–18 weeks old. Rescue hens tend to be older birds winding down their laying, while chicks younger than 6–8 weeks old need a heat source and special care, so are a larger responsibility.
Pet shops and feed stores often have chooks for sale, but Gumtree is the biggest marketplace with everything from larger breeders to small backyarders advertising birds regularly; it’s buyer beware so do check the seller’s bona fides.
For quality purebreds, search online for the relevant breed club in your state, the secretary can usually help find a suitable local source.
Expect to pay between $20–$40 for a hybrid pullet and $35 to $80-plus for a purebred.
Chook feed is available at pet shops and stock feed stores, while specialised chook medications, vitamins and accessories can be found at online specialty stores.
Easy-build wooden houses and Colorbond aviaries are available at big hardware stores, and there are a number of Australia-wide businesses that make quality henhouses. Keep in mind that cheap imported rabbit hutch styles spruiked online are usually smaller than they appear, and made of lightweight low-quality timber, so a less sustainable purchase.
For Jessamy Miller's full essential guide to chook keeping, get the latest issue of Organic Gardener, on sale now!
By: Jessamy Miller
First published: June 2020