Monday, March 24, 2014

Light Sussex or Welsummers? Choosing chooks!

Well I took one step closer to self sufficiently sunday morning.  I bought a chicken coop!  I hadn't planned to buy a coop although I have been tossing up whether to just continue to buy eggs at the fruito or go all out and "grow my own".   I hadn't made a firm decision but was wavering towards the fruito option!!   This indecision has been about 12 months in the making, with me going backwards and forwards between being a producer or just being a consumer.  Whilst I saw the benefits as far as recycling vegetable scraps and bug control in the veggie patch goes, I just couldn't see myself being a chook wrangler!  

I've never had chooks before,  never touched a chook and whilst I don't endure the same bird fear my sister has, I'm just not fussed on them.  I'm not a big consumer of eggy deggs either .  The Old Cheese on the other hand IS a big egg consumer but she too has lead a chook free lifestyle for her 84 years.  Then a couple of mates stuck their two bobs worth in and both commented on how good it would be to have a few chookies in the yard,  espousing the benefits of the feathered egg producer.  I was still hesitant but when I found a super cheap coop for sale locally I was hooked.

So with coop selected and collected the big question is what breed of chookie to keep.  The coop will hold 4 in comfort, but I was only planning to have 2 chooks.  The dude I bought the coop off suggested Isa Browns. Said they lay every day.   I like the look of the Light Sussex and the Welsummer has been suggested as a good producer of large brown eggs.  2 chooks should give me 10-14 eggs a week thru the warmer months and less thru winter.  That is PLENTY for myself and the Old Cheese.  Sister will reap the excess.  I had not realised how many breeds there were until I surfed the net last night  and found page after page of chookies to choose from!  All have their pros and cons and some are definitely prettier than others!  But how do I decide?   And WHERE does one obtain a pair of chookies???

I'm getting my head around the lingo "Point of Lay", "Pullets" and "Coccidiosis".  I know I need to buy at about 18-20 weeks to ensure they are layers and I need to buy from someone reputable so they come to me wormed and vaccinated.   But I still have no idea where that person or place is!   Apparently different breeds have different attributes.  So many things to consider... broodiness, aggressiveness, frequency or laying, hard feather, soft feather, egg size and colour.  I have read how some breeds will tear apart your veggie patch and that the last thing I want!    Who would have thought choosing a chook would be such a minefield!!!

The breed names bear little or no resemblance to any of their attributes.   The Silver Laced Wyandotte is a very pretty bird, but maybe a bit showy, but its name gives me no idea about its temperament or attributes!    I do like the look of the Light Sussex and the Welsummer, but the Isa Brown is "reliable" said the seller of the coop.  I could also consider the black Australorp and the New Hampshire.  The Frizzle and Silkies are out though.  They are all show and no go! It would make my decision much easier if their breed names reflected their egg producing potential!

I haven't even considered the equipment needed to feed and water them.  Do they get leg bands? How do I fox proof the yard and poor Old Pilchy the cat. I know he is scared of them! One came in the yard once and the old boy was quivering in his flea collar.

I wonder if there is a chicken chooser app somewhere that could help me with this all important decision.   All suggestions gratefully received!

And here it is, the coop,  a little slice of chookie heaven in my backyard!