Friends in the pen

Gale has soft spot for soft-feath­ered poul­try

Central and North Burnett Times - - OVER 50S - Shirley Way

SIL­VER-laced wyan­dotte and speck­led Sus­sex chooks have clucked their way into Gale Roberts’ fam­ily.

A poul­try breeder for 12 years, Ms Roberts has a soft spot for the soft-feath­ered va­ri­eties.

“I like the big­ger chooks (but) I’m not so much into the ban­tams,” she said.

“I don’t like the other ones (hard feath­ers) be­cause they’re a game chook.

“I just can’t warm to them – they’re not me. I like any­thing that’s a bit dif­fer­ent.”

Her fam­ily now in­cludes at least 20 pure-bred breeds, with names as colour­ful as their feath­ers and per­son­al­i­ties.

“Off the top of my head”, Ms Roberts reels off blue and black Aus­tralorps, Sus­sex – buff, light,

Gale Roberts They do be­come part of your fam­ily.

corona­tion and speck­led, Ply­mouth Rock, New Hamp­shire, sil­ver-laced wyan­dottes, Rhode Is­land reds, leghorns – brown and lit­tle, and ban­tams – Pol­ish, silkies, and par­tridge wine dots.

“Some have a lot of per­son­al­ity and some are just plain old Janes,” she said.

“They do be­come part of your fam­ily. Even for as many as I’ve got – and I still talk to them all.

“Some you can walk in and they’ll ac­tu­ally talk to you: They’ll stand around cluck­ing at you.

“And I’ve got a rooster that at­tacks me ev­ery time I get in the pen so I’ve got to go in with a lawn rake.

“I thought I’d killed him the other day be­cause I had a short stick in my hand.

“He flew at me and I had this enor­mous, big scratch here,” said Ms Roberts, point­ing to the back of her right hand.

“I had this stick in my hand and I just went whack – and then he’s lay­ing on the ground.

“I went ‘oh my God, I’ve killed my rooster’ but I just stunned him for a minute.”

Re­lieved that he would live another day, Ms Roberts said each rooster ser­viced four to six hens.

While Ms Roberts and her part­ner keep about 120 chooks, they “pull up to 200 chick­ens a week out of the egg hatcher” and sell them as ei­ther ta­ble birds or egg-lay­ers.

“We started off with the cross-bred Isa browns and bred them to a light Sus­sex rooster which gave us a mas­sive white chook,” she said.

“And then we de­cided if we’re go­ing to breed, we might as well breed pure-bred stuff – and then we got car­ried away.”

While Ms Roberts does not have time to show her poul­try at agri­cul­tural shows, other peo­ple have had suc­cess.

“I had one guy who said, ‘I’m not happy with my chooks’ and I said, ‘Why’?

“He said, ‘We only got grand cham­pion and re­serve cham­pion’.

“Oh, bug­ger, do you want me to take them back,” she laughed.

Ms Roberts is so wrapped up in her “san­ity thing”, she can eas­ily spend half a day feed­ing and wa­ter­ing the chooks.

De­spite the in­ten­tion to keep the fam­ily to a min­i­mum, a re­cent drive to Her­vey Bay “for shop­ping” meant a blue Aus­tralorp “fol­lowed me home”.


SOFT AT HEART: Gale Roberts breeds soft-feath­ered poul­try for sale. “Some have a lot of per­son­al­ity, some are plain Janes,” Ms Roberts said.

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