Your step by step guide to keeping chickens at home
Keeping chooks can be an enjoyable activity for your family, even when you’re living in suburban Brisbane. Chooks can be kept as pets, for their fresh eggs, and as a meat source. They are also great for sustainability: they will eat your kitchen scraps, and give you a nutrient-rich manure you can use for composting and fertilising your garden.
There are a few factors to take into account when taking care of chooks in your Brisbane backyard, including which breeds can tolerate the Queensland weather, the types of housing and nesting equipment they will need, and the types of feed they will need to thrive in the warm climate. Gleam O’Dawn can give you comprehensive information on poultry and poultry care products, so call us or drop in at any time for help with these fantastic pets.
1. What type of chook is right for me?
Chooks naturally prefer cooler climates, so special consideration must be given when choosing the right breeds for a Brisbane home.
Gleam O’Dawn are specialist producers of the ISA Brown / Ingham Hi Sex, one of the most popular crossbreeds for laying. These chooks are known for their high egg production, giving about 300 eggs a year in the first year, and laying productively for up to three years. They are hardy birds, and can tolerate the Queensland heat well. Gleam O’Dawn ISA Browns are fully immunised and wormed, very friendly and domesticated, and are available in red, black and white varieties.
Other chooks known to tolerate the heat of the Queensland climate, and to have temperaments suitable for domestic pets, include:
Australorp | Barnevelders | White Leghorn | Rhode Island Red | Fayoumi New Hampshire Red | Brahma | Lowman Brown
Rearing chooks from birth requires specific husbandry skills, and if you aren’t skilled or confident enough to complete this phase properly, your best bet is to obtain your chooks as laying hens.
Gleam O’Dawn can provide you with a wealth of information on suitable types of chooks for your backyard flock, and our specialty breeds are available for purchase all year as point-of-lay pullets or laying hens. Contact or visit us to check out our wide range of supplies, or for expert information on how to keep them healthy and happy.
2. Keeping chooks in Brisbane.
If you’re looking to keep chooks in your suburban backyard, you’re in good company! Keeping chooks as pets and for eggs in Brisbane has grown in popularity recently,due to increased awareness of environmental issues, and families trying to live a more sustainable lifestyle.
Brisbane City Council has provided recommendations on keeping chooks, including the number you are allowed to have: if your property is less than 800m2, you can keep up to 6 chooks, and if it is more than 800m2, you may keep up to 20 chooks. Chooks are social animals, so you should keep at least 2 at a time. Roosters aren’t permitted at all in suburban areas, but you may keep them on acreage. To keep your chooks happy and healthy, they will need free range of your yard, or an enclosure that allows them space to roam, scratch, and indulge in dirt baths that help them to control their temperature and keep comfortable. Your chooks might also need to have their wings clipped to prevent them from flying out of your yard, and causing or becoming victims to hazards.
The warm Queensland climate poses other challenges for keeping chooks, as they are susceptible to heat stroke and death in extreme heat. Panting, not eating or drinking, and a decrease in egg production are warning signs that they aren’t coping well with the temperature. Keep their water supply cool and out of the sun, provide juicy fruit and vegetables (like watermelon), and even frozen vegetables to keep them hydrated. Provide shade over their enclosure, and make sure your coop is well ventilated; you might even consider a mister to spray cool water.
3. How to get a constant supply of fresh eggs.
Does a constant supply of fresh eggs in your own backyard sound good to you? If you take proper care of your chooks, you’ll soon be enjoying your very own eggs whenever you want them.
Eggs are incredibly nutritious, and are one of the most complete foods in nature, providing protein, calcium, iron, vitamins and energy. However, the quality of your eggs does depend on the health and well-being of your chooks: some breeds or young chooks just coming in to lay might have a tendency to produce harmless blood and meat spots in their eggs, and runny albumin can be a sign of aging, ill, or nutrient-deficient chooks.
The colour of your hen’s egg yolks can change depending on their diet. For example, healthy, corn-fed chooks can produce eggs with a very bright yellow yolk, but there is very little difference between pale yellow and dark orange yolks that vary according to the hen’s feed sources.
Crossbred chooks are the best choice for laying, and Gleam O’Dawn’s lovely ISA Browns are known for producing lots of good quality eggs. Your chooks will lay most of their eggs in the first years of their life, and their laying will decrease with age and in the colder months, but you may be able to kick-start their laying with higher protein diets and other feed adjustments. Gleam O’Dawn have a range of nutritious products to keep your girls healthy and laying, so please visit or contact us to see how we can help you keep enjoying the benefits of fresh home-laid eggs.
4. Location, location, location.
The Brisbane City Council requires that your coop doesn’t create nuisance to your neighbours, and is placed at least a metre away from the fence line. Apart from this, all poultry require a secure, weatherproof enclosure to protect them from the inclement weather that is inevitable in Queensland, with nesting boxes and roosting perches.
There are a number of predators in suburban Brisbane, including some breeds of dogs, and even foxes! Your coop should be proofed to prevent their access to your chooks. Your chicken coop should be kept clean to prevent odours, flies, and other pests, and the sawdust or straw you cover the floor with should be changed regularly (this litter can be used as compost).
Your coop should have perches or roosts. The chooks will naturally perch at night, so you won’t have to do anything except shut the door. Don’t position perches above food and water supplies, because they will become contaminated with droppings.Nesting boxes are necessary for egg laying, as chooks will usually only lay when they feel safe in a dark, quiet place. The boxes should be mounted about 600-900mm off the ground, and you should allow one nesting box per four chooks.
Gleam O’Dawn supply a range of specially designed coops and nesting boxes, and we can advise you on securing and maintaining your coop to keep your chooks safe and contented.
5. Feeding, watering, and health products.
If you want good quality eggs, you need contented and healthy chooks. A combination of a high-protein bagged feed, green leafy vegetable scraps (spinach, silver beet, cauliflowerleaves), and shell grit will keep your girls in optimum form.Don’t add grains and bread into their diets, as it decreases the amount of vitamins and minerals they receive. You should also feed your chooks in pest-proof dispensers that won’t attract rodents and insects that can be harmful to them. Give your chooks fresh water every day, and keep their water supply away from wild birds to prevent the spread of avian viruses.
Your chooks should be wormed about every 3 months, and should be regularly treated to prevent lice, fleas, and mites. Infestation with pests can cause your chooks to stop laying. Regular cleaning of their coop and replacing damp litter with fresh, dry litter can prevent many parasite infestations.
Gleam O’Dawn stock a range of nutritious feeds and a variety of feeders and waterers to maintain the quality of your chooks’ feed and water supply, and we can advise you on special dietary requirements for different breeds, ages, and situations. We also stock a range of products for preventing parasites, and can share our expertise on prevention and treatment for viruses, so call or visit us for more information on maintaining the health of your chooks.
To reduce the risk of mite and lice infestation in your flock, there are many products at Gleam O Dawn that will help you best care for your chooks and keep them happy and healthy.