Friends in the pen
Gale has soft spot for soft-feathered poultry
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.