The Untapped Beauty of the Exotic Chook! (By Rebecca McCrory)
What spectacular garden is complete without its own collection of stunning birds?
Many gardeners orientate their garden choices around the bird life they wish to attract. We all understand the fundamental connection between birds and plants after all.
But what if there were beautiful exotic birds you could have living permanently in your garden, providing snail patrol, the richest manure for your soil and eggs for your breakfast?
Beautiful chickens can adorn your home, just as peacocks do Indian palaces, whilst being most useful.
The push to illuminate battery hen farms has impassioned us all and transformed the range of eggs found at our local supermarket, but surprisingly few people, especially urban dwellers, have taken the dive into poultry ownership for themselves.
But it’s so easy to have a couple of hens!
Roosters aren’t welcome in built up areas for obvious a.m. reasons, but if you’ve got a patch of grass why not get some chooks?
There are many breeds, some are better layers than others. Typical farmhouse breeds that lay approximately 250 eggs a year – Leghorns, Australorps, Sussex’s and Isa Browns to name a few – can be found in your local classifieds without much trouble.
If you want something a bit more glamorous and alluring the selection is marvellous. Feathered feet and heads, feathers that curl inside out (Frizzles), fluffy feathers (Silkies), spotted, shiny, multi-coloured, long or short feathers! Have some fun discovering your favourite breeds.
Mix and match! A motley crew is striking! There is no reason why your whole flock needs to be the same breed.
Then you have the wonder of collecting a glorious assortment of eggs, all different colours, shapes and sizes. The French Moran’s eggs are chocolate brown, a lavender Araucana native to South America, lays blue eggs.
You’ll be surprised how many chicken enthusiasts are around once you start looking. There are some great Facebook pages where you can find breeders near you. There is also the option of getting fertilized eggs sent in the mail!
Chickens are also one of the best ways to maximise household food use. Don’t throw away you’re scraps – they can keep on giving! Feed them to your chooks, eat the nutritious eggs, then, when you clean out your hen house, feed them to your garden!
Chicken manure has the highest nutrient content of all manures due to their rich diet. The high nitrogen levels make it superb for your vegies and lawn. Careful with natives though, the high phosphorous count can kill them if applied long term.
So if your garden is needing something extra, why not garnish it with some lustrous chickens. Embrace some slow living in your lifestyle, both yours and your garden’s wellbeing will thank you.