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Poultry are social animals so a flock of three or more is ideal.

Getting started with chooks

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If you are looking at adding poultry to your backyard, Jessamy Miller has a few important tips when it comes to buying your new chooks.

One of the first questions to ask when looking at getting chooks is how many can you fit into the space that you have.

Chooks are social creatures that are happiest in a group, so a flock of three or more is ideal. Three birds provides a good social dynamic and should one die, you still have two to keep each other company. When introducing new chooks into an existing flock, always add more than one so they have a friend for support. The flock can be harsh to newbies so this is important for their mental health.

Where to buy?

These days, chooks are primarily sourced from websites such as Gumtree and Backyard Poultry. Take care to check reviews and bona fides before buying.

There are large layer hatcheries on the outskirts of many major cities, which often advertise on social media. For pure breeds, look online for your local poultry club or a specific breed club, and contact the secretary for auction dates or nearby breeders.
Fertile eggs can be posted across Australia, however, birds bought locally will be better adapted to your conditions.

The most common age for purchase is point of lay (POL). These are young pullets around 16–18 weeks who are about to start laying, so you can expect to make the most of their entire productive life.


The ideal birds to start out with are commercial layers such as ISA Browns, which are cheap, cheerful and readily available. Their exceptional egg lay is rewarding, however they tend not to live past three years. If you find you enjoy chook-keeping, you could add some purebreds for their personality, hardiness and unique qualities.

Otherwise you can get right into purebreds from the start with the following choices:

Top laying breeds: Australian Langshans (see picture below), Leghorns, Welsummers and Araucanas.
Great all-purpose or table birds: Sussex, New Hampshire, Plymouth Rock and Indian Game.
Delightful pet breeds: Pekins, Silkies, Belgian Bantams (Barbu d’Uccles) and Australorps.
Backyard beauties: Hamburgs, Wyandottes, Campines and Polish.

OG 137 Langshams by Jessamy Miller

Why not head to the poultry pavilion at the local agricultural show to take in the diverse range of fabulous purebreds? There’s sure to be a steward to answer questions about breeds.

Jessamy has written a feature in  our Summer 2022 issue (OG 138) that has even more tips for getting started with chooks in your backyard. There’s a selection of back issues available here — you can also subscribe and get the most recent issues delivered to your door!

OG 138 cover