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Sustainable Living

About Asphyxia

Food and Nutrition

  • Traditional Foods
    My health has dramatically improved after changing my diet for a more traditional way of eating, as advised by Sally Fallon.
  • Food Flower Poster
    Forget the food pyramid! It was developed by the agricultural industry, not by nutritionists. Instead, print this Food Flower poster, which shows a visual guide to choosing nutritious and satisfying traditional foods.
  • Sourdough bread Recipes
    I make delicious sourdough bread in my bread machine - recipes and tips here.
  • Raw Food
    Should we be eating a diet of 100% raw food? Here's what I found by way of "scientific proof".
  • Raw garlic to cure colds & flu
    If you feel a cold or flu coming on, eat a whole clove of raw garlic, three times a day - it works miracles.

« Apple cider and Vinegar | Main | What we're eating from the garden in November »

13 November 2011

Comments

Hi again Asphyxia (I just wrote another comment in the chook killing post), We started out with Isa Browns (the best egg laying breed, which we bought from a Phil in Grantville (www.freeranger.com.au) who is, incidentally, quite the free range chook warrior. But I digress... That was over 3 years ago. One developed this condition where it laid eggs without shells, or super thin shells, like a plastic bag. It was the only one, so it wasn't the diet. After reading up, we decided we had to cull her, and we ate her (as it would have been a waste). She had so little meat it was barely enough for a sandwich. I think we made soup. Then a friend gave us some Light Sussex hens. They're a dual purpose bird, laying less eggs than an Isa Brown, but more than a specifically meat bird. A year later one got attacked by a fox and staggered home fatally injured (I'll spare you the details) and again we had to kill her. To our surprise she made two huge meals for us, even though she didn't eat more than the Isa Brown. We decided then that we would change our flock so that they would all be dual purpose hens. We were happy to trade the lowered egg supply for all purpose chooks. We didn't necessarily want to breed purebreeds (ie all of the same breed) but figured if all the hens and the rooster were dual purpose, then all the chicks would also be dual purpose of some sort. We now have a Light Sussex rooster, and I like to have one each of different sorts of hens (just for the fun of it, and so it's easier to see which is which). We now have one each of Light Sussex, Buff Sussex, Gold Laced Wyandotte, Silver Laced Wyandotte, Dark Barred Plymouth Rock, and Australorp. None are bantam varieties, so they are big chunky girls. If they go clucky, we let them sit on a batch of eggs (and stuff more under them). We're still in the changeover phase, so many of these hens are still young. Once they're old enough to lay, we'll give our remaining Isa Browns to others who want chooks that mainly lay eggs. Now, in response to your question about how to source more locally: buy eggs instead of chicks and have them sent to you, or collect them from a local breeder, and then hatch them yourself. You could keep some of your meat girls and wait till they go broody, and stick the eggs under them, or invest in a little incubator. We use both. There are LOADS of people who sell eggs of every sort of chook. I find the best source is the noticeboard on Backyard Poultry (www.backyardpoultry.com) and have had eggs sent several times. There are also regular chook shows/sales all over the state, including in Melbourne. You could get there by public transport and buy the eggs there. They're advertised on chook forums too. (I haven't been to one yet.) Our mini incubator only takes 7 eggs, and we generally get about 4-5 eggs out of 7 hatching. It's not always that much different when a hen does it. If you want to know more about egg hatching with or without an incubator, I have learned a lot through trial and error over the last few years. Also, if you want a really fast growing bird, then go for ducks. Seriously, I have never seen anything grow as fast as a duckling. We raise Pekin ducks for food, and they grow like crazy (and are our very favouite meat as well). Anyway, enough for now. I have no idea how and if I get any sort of notification if you respond on here. Maybe you could let me know on FB if you do?

Oh oh oh, I've just read ALL of that post (thought I did, but obviously missed a bit in the middle) and realised you've already considered dual purpose chooks. All the same, you can use any chook to brood fertile eggs for you, and I'm still optimistic there would be someone closer than Qld that keeps a meat breed.

Hi Ashpyxia,
I read your article about broilers in Grass Roots with great fascination. I have been investigating where I can buy day old broilers (meat chooks) from and have only 2 interstate sources, except for one in Korumburra/Bena (120km South East of Melbourne) who is asking $3 each.

Barter and Sons (65km west of Sydney) who charge from $2.50 down to $1.65 each for larger batches with an indicative freight charge of $35
see: http://barterandsons.com.au/pricing.php

The other choice is mail order eggs and have found a source in NSW which cost $1 each plus $30 postage per batch (I was told the breed was Arbor Acre X Ross).

The problem is that the poultry industry is very concentrated and has a high degree of vertical integration. So where there once would have been many independent hatcheries happy to sell small quantities to people like ourselves, they have all been taken over by the mega-operations like Baiada and Ingham who will never sell small quantities of day old broiler chicks as they are in the business of capturing every last cent of profit and wouldn't want to supply anything, even to tiny scale backyard growers. This is very unfortunate as there are a few hatcheries owned by these companies not too far from Melbourne.

For now I think the choice is that a few households that are in a similar area put in a joint order for a large batch and then share the cost of freight between them, or even invest in a good incubator to get the cheaper eggs.

Thanks Ilan, that's very handy information. You don't happen to have contact details for the Korumburra hatchery do you? I've just recently ordered more chicks from QLD - but with four households joining in it really helps with the shipping. I tried ringing Baiada back when I was first researching and they wouldn't even talk to me. I've really got attitude to these big corporations now, especially since another big one deliberately hassled the farmer who was supplying me with raw milk, until she gave up and only supplied them. I'm determined to do what I can to support small farmers. Anyway, thanks for the tips. Asphyxia
PS we bought from http://www.freewebs.com/peakpoultrysupplies/

The contact details for the Korumburra Hatchery:
Leonora, phone: 0415 305 323
email: ausfx@tpg.com.au
The price is $3 each, and for a box of 50 there is a $25 charge for delivery to Melbourne to one of the courier's depots in Broadmeadows or Altona (there may be more depots).

This will be advertised in the Weekly Times for a batch that will be ready late-August (2012). That's how I originally found out about it.

Hi Kathryn again,
I should have read further, I see they are meat chickies you have. You have interesting comments regarding feeding (thanks for the crumble recipe). I have 18 chicks and I think that they eat significantly less than your meat chicks, so even though I need to keep them longer they may not go through as huge a quantities of food? Also, now they are older I have them outside and they are sourcing much of their own food from the garden. I keep them in a portable small run made with wooden stakes and wire meat with a very small coop in the centre they squash into at night ( keeps them warm). I actually have always had chooks, but really getting into them in a bigger way this year (did do the slaughter thing many years back). They denude the ground in their little area very quickly, so I supplement with weeds, scraps, etc. I realise you have a much smaller land then I do, however, unlike me you are probably closer to veggie markets, so give away or cheap scraps from the stalls would be great (you probably already know this). Will you reveal your vic meat bird source? Just in case I decide to give them a try (don't think I will at this stage, but never say never) well better let my chickies out now. Happy chooking!

Hi Kathryn,

Our latest batch of chicks each ate an average of 6.25kg of feed - I'd be interested to know if your dual purpose birds eat the same over a longer timeframe? Good on you for getting into raising your own meat.

The Vic meat source is listed on this page in a comment from Ian. I haven't bought from them yet but I hope to next Spring. So far I've been buying from Peak Poultry Supplies in Qld.

I'm thinking next time I get egg layers I'll buy dual purpose birds, so that at the end of their productivity we can eat them - sad, I know. But for general eating I much prefer the project-based approach - work hard for a while, kill them all and fill the freezer, and have a rest.

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