After the recent series on true bantams a few people have asked me about how many chooks can they keep.
You can keep more bantams as they are smaller birds, but how many do you need or can keep?
The average families egg requirement could probably be satisfied with three or four pullets which gives about 20 or so eggs a week in the prime season and about half that when they slowdown in the second year.
This is more than adequate unless you are a cook or bake constantly and many cooks prefer the richer duck eggs, especially for the heavier cake types.
Another factor to consider is the bird’s size and type.
Large fowl need about a square metre if penned constantly and larger game fowl a little more.
Bantams require less proportionally, but these are often crowded by owners as they seem smaller.
Half a dozen bantam hens will give the equivalent of the four larger fowl.
If the birds are just penned at night and allowed to roam about during the day, you just need to ensure adequate roosting space is provided so they aren’t crowded on the perch or some having to sleep on the ground where they are vulnerable, especially to having tail feathers eaten by mice.
Remember that if you just want eggs you don’t need a rooster and this is especially so in suburban areas where roosters form the bulk of neighbour complaints.
A different situation arises when you want meat birds.
You can buy birds to raise, but many prefer to breed them and for this you will need a rooster.
A light breed will usually cover half a dozen hens or more depending on type.
With this you must allow for hens to go broody and get fewer eggs.
Usually cockerels are raised for the table and the pullets are kept for next season as layers. Best of luck with your birds and keep those questions coming.
- Bruce Pattinson is a past president of the NSW Exhibition Poultry Association.
- Email your poultry questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or post to: Chook Feed, PO Box 25, Kogarah, 2217, with your name and daytime contact number.