Christ­mas chicks need the right care, too

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THE RSPCA has is­sued a timely re­minder that if you give a pet as a gift, you’re also giv­ing re­spon­si­bilty.

“There’s no doubt that Christ­mas is a pop­u­lar time for in­tro­duc­ing a new pet to the fam­ily – but it’s im­por­tant to make sure that the de­ci­sion isn’t taken lightly. Pup­pies and dogs can be a won­der­ful ad­di­tion to your life, but they do re­quire a lot of con­sis­tent at­ten­tion and care, and it’s very im­por­tant that you choose the right in­di­vid­ual an­i­mal to suit your fam­ily make-up and life­style,” the RSPCA said.

This year, back­yard poul­try own­ers have also been tar­geted with re­minders about the do’s and don’ts of giv­ing chick­ens and gifts.

A CSIRO warn­ing about risks to an­i­mal and hu­man health as­so­ci­ated with keep­ing back­yard poul­try has prompted in­dus­try or­gan­i­sa­tion Aus­tralian Eggs to re­mind own­ers what they should be do­ing.

“Anec­do­tally, there has been an in­crease in the num­ber of peo­ple keep­ing back­yard hens,” Aus­tralian Eggs’ Manag­ing Di­rec­tor Rowan Mc­mon­nies said.

“Peo­ple need to re­alise that once you’re a sub­ur­ban ‘egg farmer’ there are im­por­tant biose­cu­rity risks to pro­tect against,” he said.

Aus­tralian Eggs has is­sued a list of 10 things back­yard poul­try own­ers should prac­tice to re­duce biose­cu­rity risks:

1. Al­ways wash hands af­ter han­dling chick­ens or eggs.

2. Keep chick­ens away from ponds and rivers as wa­ter birds are known car­ri­ers of avian in­fluenza.

3. En­sure that wild birds can­not ac­cess the chick­ens’ feed or wa­ter. Dis­eases can be eas­ily trans­mit­ted to poul­try by con­tam­i­na­tion of feed or wa­ter.

4. Keep other an­i­mals like do­mes­tic geese or tur­keys, and even cats and dogs, well away as they can bring dis­ease to chick­ens.

5. Use safe wa­ter sources such as town wa­ter, good qual­ity bore wa­ter or sani­tised sur­face wa­ter for chick­ens to drink.

6. Pro­vide a se­cure ro­dent-proof en­clo­sure for poul­try as rats and mice are known car­ri­ers of dis­ease.

7. Any kitchen scraps fed to chick­ens must be meat and an­i­mal free. When spoiled, these may carry dan­ger­ous bac­te­ria.

8. Check hens reg­u­larly for any­thing un­usual such as cough­ing, di­ar­rhoea or swollen eyes.

9. If a chicken is show­ing signs of sick­ness, iso­late the sick an­i­mal from oth­ers and seek vet­eri­nary ad­vice in a timely man­ner.

10.Call An­i­mal Health Aus­tralia’s 24-hour emer­gency an­i­mal dis­ease watch hot­line on 1800 675 888 if there are un­usual symp­toms or signs of se­ri­ous dis­ease.


Zac and Bella Bar­ton have been learn­ing about the re­spon­si­bil­ity that comes with hav­ing baby chick­ens as pets.

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