Car­ing for your chooks

Wangaratta Chronicle - North East Regional Extra - - NEWS - with Dr An­nette Kelle­her, BVsc VET­ERI­NAR­IAN

CHOOKS in the back­yard make great pets and they are very useful at pro­vid­ing fresh eggs - here are some tips to keep them healthy. Chooks will just about eat any­thing, but it is im­por­tant to feed a bal­anced pel­lets or grain mix as the main part of their diet. In ad­di­tion to this, all those food scraps you would nor­mally throw away can be fed to the chick­ens, but just re­mem­ber that cof­fee, av­o­cado and choco­late can be toxic so avoid these. Dur­ing the day it is fine to let chick­ens scratch around in the back yard, but re­mem­ber wher­ever you live, preda­tors such as foxes, birds of prey and dogs can at­tack chick­ens, so they need to have a se­cure shed or pen for their safety. The pen should con­tain perches, nest­ing boxes and plenty of clean fresh wa­ter. There are many breeds of chick­ens avail­able: some types are very large and some are small (ban­tams); there are lay­ing breeds such as Isa Browns and also meat breeds which are heav­ier birds that are suit­able to eat; meat breeds do not lay as many eggs and have a more sea­sonal lay­ing pat­tern than the egg lay­ing breeds. It is im­por­tant to re­mem­ber that when you live in town, it is usu­ally fine to have hens, how­ever roost­ers can be very noisy and up­set the neigh­bors when they crow first thing in the morn­ing and some­times the lo­cal coun­cil has re­stric­tions on where roost­ers can be kept and also how many birds you can have in a built up area. Roost­ers can also be quite ag­gres­sive, so care should be taken when keep­ing them. Chick­ens are quite prone to par­a­sites such as worms, mites, lice and ticks. Your lo­cal vet can pro­vide advice on treat­ing these prob­lems but re­mem­ber if you are con­sum­ing the eggs or eat­ing the birds, then with hold­ing pe­ri­ods must be ob­served. Chick­ens can be prone to lots of other ill­nesses that can be trans­mit­ted by wild birds so if you no­tice any abnormalities, ring your lo­cal vet.

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