Sunday, March 20, 2011

Learning about chooks

Now having been the proud owner of four pullets for all of six weeks, and far from confident as a chook owner, I was happy to be able to get to a poultry keeping workshop today run by Paul Healy, the well-known breeder of Barnevelder poultry who I bought my birds from. It was held at Huon Falls, his property at Judbury. Paul is best known for his talkback on ABC radio on Saturday mornings which is amazingly popular and the columns he writes for Organic Gardener and the magazine insert in The Mercury. After more than 40 years breeding poultry, you could say he knows his stuff... but he says he's constantly learning as people's situations, the climate, illnesses and pests never remain constant. So if you go to a workshop, take pen and paper and don't expect notes or a handbook, as the advice will almost certainly change.

I learned a lot, from the best way to catch and hold them, what to feed, how to worm them, how to house them safely, best types of runs and nest boxes, common mistakes, how to prevent and treat mites and lice, what to grow that they like to eat, and finally how to kill and skin a rooster, one of those non-fun but necessary parts of owning chickens... except for the eating bit of course. And I must say - it is hard to beat a box full of Barnevelder chicks for cute value!

At lunch we were able to wander down to the banks of the Huon River where it is considerably narrower and more turbulent than here downriver at Franklin. It was a great day for me where my head was cleared of work for the first time in ages. It was just a shame that the valley was filled with smoke from burning off nearby... more on that in another post.



  1. Sounds like a fabulous day of learning in a beautiful spot, loved the photos & nice looking chooks too!!

  2. Looks like a great day. I don't think we could keep chooks, both our dogs are very naughty around birds. A pair of geese have taken to living at the block, we'd managed to keep Claudia away from them til last night, she chased them into the dam, but thought better of chasing them in there!

  3. It's nice to put a face to the voice. I've been listening to Paul Healey for ages. He's very interesting. And I don't even have chooks.

  4. Our dogs and chooks are kept in separate fenced yards... it would not be a good mix. Gretchen loves to chase the pair of plovers who regularly hang out in the fenced house paddock. Baerli has been on-leash outside the yard since the wallaby incident last year (sadly she chased and caught one and it died). So no dogs too near the chooks I'm afraid.

  5. Hi Susan,

    I have enjoyed rreading bit and pieces from your blog.

    I live in Sydney and would love to attend one of Paul's workshops, do you know how I can find out when they are on? I have a friend in Cygnet that I visit several times a year so I'm hoping to time one of my next visits with one of his workshops. The day sounds lovely.

    I googled paul to see if he has any books published (having read his articles in Organic Gardening magazine) but nothing comes up...

    Sandy Undercliffe, Sydney

  6. Sorry for slow reply Sandy! Previously, you had to email Paul directly for details on the courses (email address at the end of his articles in Organic Gardener or see here but it seems he now has a web page -
    Hope you enjoy it. I have spent an interesting couple of days out there. Not everyone agrees with Paul's views but as a beginner I sure learnt a lot and had fun.

  7. Hi Susan,

    Thanks, I have found his website and have booked into a course for late October. One of my friends who lives near Cygnet is going to come with me. I'm looking forward to it. I wish I lived closer so I could attend more of his workshops. Thanks for the recommendation.