Egg-cel­lent Christ­mas present

The Courier-Mail - Weekend Shopper - - Weekendshopper - - KYLIE McIN­TOSH

Q AWhat is self-sus­tain­ing, healthy, pro­vides great fer­til­izer and is the per­fect Christ­mas present for the whole fam­ily? If you said chick­ens and a chicken coop you’re right.

This week, vet­eran chicken breeder and Back­yard Chicken Coops owner, Grant Kros, took Shop­per through the pre­ferred ar­chi­tec­tural de­sign for a low-main­te­nance chicken coop.

“Orig­i­nally, my part­ner and I were looking to buy a chicken coop but we couldn’t find the de­sign we wanted so we adopted a de­sign and made a few ad­di­tions,” Mr Kros said.

The key to their ad­di­tional fea­tures was to de­velop chicken coops that were easy to main­tain and ma­noeu­vre.

“The thing about chick­ens is that they poop straight onto the coop which makes clean­ing messy and dif­fi­cult.

“So we added a clean­ing tray with a plas­tic in­sert. You can throw the ma­nure straight onto the com­post heap and hose them down or put a layer of news­pa­per on them. This makes it very easy to keep the coop clean.

We also added wheels. Some chicken coops can weigh as much as 40 kilo­grams, so we added wheels to make them easy to move around the yard.

“There are two wheels on one end and a han­dle on the other so they can be ma­noeu­vred like a wheel­bar­row. This is par­tic­u­larly handy for chil­dren and se­niors.”

Other changes to the orig­i­nal coop de­sign in­clude the re­duc­tion of the wire mesh to 10x10mm to stop snakes en­ter­ing the coop. The strength of this welded, gal­vanised mesh also pre­vents foxes eat­ing through the mesh.

Foxes are renowned for dig­ging un­der­neath coops to gain ac­cess. Mr Kros has solved this is­sue with the ad­di­tion of a mesh floor.

Back­yard Chicken Coops also have a lock­able nest­ing box bolted to the side of the coop so chil­dren can ac­cess it eas­ily. And the roof con­tains in­su­la­tion.

“Chick­ens can die eas­ily in the Queens­land heat so we added an as­phalt­cov­ered, green roof that re­flects the sun. It also keeps chick­ens warm in south­ern cli­mates,” Mr Kros said.

Shop­pers con­tem­plat­ing buy­ing chooks will be happy to know they tick all the boxes in terms of a child-friendly pet/ac­tiv­ity.

They are self-sus­tain­ing crea­tures and a great garbage dis­posal mech­a­nism for house­hold scraps like fruit and veg­eta­bles. Once eaten the ma­nure is sub­se­quently used to fer­tilise the gar­den thus en­hanc­ing the house­hold fruit and veg­etable patch.

Eggs are healthy. And there is noth­ing bet­ter than watch­ing a child’s face when they open the nest­ing box to col­lect fresh eggs. Chick­ens are in­ex­pen­sive to buy. “A day-old chick sells for around $3 and a point-of-lay (a chook that is ready to pro­duce eggs) for $12.

“Chooks start pro­duc­ing at three months old and are gen­er­ally sold just prior to this when they are around two-and-a-half months old.”

A 20kg bag of chook feed costs $16 and lasts for quite a while.

As far as lay­ing ca­pac­ity, a hen will lay around 300 eggs/year so with sev­eral of them that’s an egg a day at least.

Mr Kros sells stan­dard 1.7-me­tre coops that house five chooks for $429. For 10 or more chooks there is a larger coop that sells for $749.

“Peo­ple can buy sec­ond­hand chicken coops for $280 but they don’t have the fea­tures ours do. And they aren’t easy to clean like ours.

“Fea­tures like the mesh floor are ad­di­tional ex­tras be­cause not every­one needs them,” Mr Kros said.

Week­end Shop­per of­fers both chick­ens and coops. In terms of what comes first; ob­vi­ously it’s the coop.

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