No more laying about: Dos and don’ts for chicken owners as egg production ramps up

PREPARATION: Derek Hall from Mullion Produce Pets and Saddlery, pictured holding a silver dorking rooster, said now is a good time to make sure nesting options for hens are up to scratch.
PREPARATION: Derek Hall from Mullion Produce Pets and Saddlery, pictured holding a silver dorking rooster, said now is a good time to make sure nesting options for hens are up to scratch.

THE broods of chickens roaming Orange’s backyards are about to ramp up their egg production, sparking advice to their owners to ensure their health and safety to maximise the number of eggs in the fridge.

According to Mullion Produce Pets and Saddlery’s Derek Hall, chickens – like most animals – are somewhat dormant in the winter months.

But with temperatures gradually rising, their egg-laying functions will soon kick into gear, and owners need to make preparations to help them reach peak production.

They should be locked up of a night because there are foxes right in the heart of town.

Mullion Produce Pets and Saddlery’s Derek Hall

“It’s always important coming into spring to encourage the nesting because they will always lay more eggs in spring and summer,” Mr Hall said.

“Make sure they’ve got adequate shade. Trees are a lot better for shade than corrugated iron tin roofs, because the tin conducts more heat.”

He said it was also important to ensure the animals had water supplies which were both sufficient and regularly changed, with the birds’ saliva a chance to create potentially hazardous algae in water receptacles if the supply wasn’t freshened.

“It should be checked every two to three days, but you can do it every day,” Mr Hall said.

Off-ground roosting options were also advisable, with predators a constant threat.

POPULAR: More residents are choosing to keep chicken in Orange's suburban backyard. Photo: FILE PHOTO

POPULAR: More residents are choosing to keep chicken in Orange's suburban backyard. Photo: FILE PHOTO

“They should be locked up of a night because there are foxes right in the heart of town,” he said.

For people living in town it is also important to keep abreast of regulations for keeping chickens, especially restrictions on where roosters can and cannot be kept.

Mr Hall said people should also use a powder to protect them against lice in spring and summer.

“Cold weather doesn’t affect them so much with the lice,” he said.

According to Mr Hall the trend for keeping chickens shows no signs of slowing down, with ISA browns – known for their egg-laying prowess – especially sought-after.

He said australorps were also rising in popularity, while some of the more exotic breeds people look for were silkies and wyandotte.

“We do see a few people with the gourmet breeds but the problem is they are only sold in trios of two hens and rooster,” he said.