Mitchell Carrigan-Walsh grew up with chooks, but the Pomborneit local’s poultry passion took flight when he attended the Camperdown Ag Show at just seven years of age.
That was when Mr Carrigan-Walsh first laid eyes on the chicken breed Rhode Island Reds, and he was he was hooked.
His mum, Debbie, bought him his first chook then and there, Henny Penny, who went on to become his first show hen and a beloved pet.
Today, the 24 year-old is passionate about chooks of all breeds, though he admits to having a soft spot for Rhode Island Reds, of which he now has 10.
His chickens live within a well-oiled system.
His dad, Gerrard, helped him build six different sheds for the chickens, each with their own purpose; and his mum runs the incubators.
Mr Carrigan-Walsh takes a scientific approach to raising chooks.
This time of year, he uses the designated breeding shed to strategically breed his chooks for the best genetic outcomes.
He also carefully documents the pedigree of each.
He loves to closely observe and document the physical attributes of roosters and hens each spring in his pursuit of the perfect bird.
“No one has ever bred the perfect bird but that's what we're all working towards,” he said.
He advocates letting the chooks out of the sheds every second or third day, so they can pick and scratch the grass, get some extra protein from bugs, and have dust baths which is really good for their skin and feathers.
“An old poultry man, years ago when I first started breeding a few chooks, he said the best thing you can you feed your bird is fresh green grass,” he said.
He supplements this feed with Darling Downs Barastoc Grain Mix and Golden Yolk laying pellets to ensure chickens are getting all the nutrients they need, especially in spring.
He also stresses the importance of maintaining good hygiene in the living environments, and of regularly worming and delousing.
Mr Carrigan-Walsh’s advice for any newcomers to raising poultry is to take the time to ensure your set-up is the best it can be; he said thriving chooks need properly built, dry shelters.
The other tip he gives to poultry owners, is to join their local poultry club, like how he is a member of the Camperdown and Colac Poultry Clubs.
“Most poultry clubs have bird night once or twice a month, you bring a chook along and ask questions so get to know people because there's so many knowledgeable chook people,” he said.
“I've found the whole poultry community very warm and welcoming, you know, people are more than happy to answer questions.”