GETTING CLUCKY: Letisha Johnson from Boonah has some handy tips on how to ensure your chickens are healthy.
GETTING CLUCKY: Letisha Johnson from Boonah has some handy tips on how to ensure your chickens are healthy. Contributed

The time is right to do your chook check-up

AS THE days are getting longer, there is change going on in the brain of every chook kept in backyards across the country.

Their brains are telling their bodies to restart or ramp up egg production after a slow-down over the coldest period of winter.

This week is National Chook Health Week (September 10-16) and Letisha Johnson from Boonah is urging people who own chickens to do a quick health check.

The 18-year-old is studying a dual degree in Agribusiness and Sustainable Agriculture at the University of Queensland, and is an active member in her local poultry club. She tries to enter local shows every chance she gets.

Her number one tip for taking care of chickens - whether it's one or two in the backyard or a dozen on the farm - is to keep their coop clean.

"Keeping their shed or coop clean is so important. The cleaner things are the healthier chickens tend to stay," she said. "Prevention in chook health is much better than the cure.

"Chooks are pretty easy to care for and they are such worthwhile pets. They're great companions, each chook has a unique personality, and you get fresh eggs from them, too."

Breeding chickens is something which is fairly new to Letisha.

She started a few years ago and despite only caring for them for a short amount of time, she already boasts a number of achievements in caring and presenting chickens.

She has previously won Champion Any Other Colour Orpington at the Ekka, Champion Breeding Pair at the Boonah club show and Reserve bird of show at the Kalbar Show.

She mostly breeds orpingtons, but also some brahmas and Japanese bantams.

Chook checklist:

Behaviour: Are your chooks alert and active? Are they chirping, clucking, feeding and moving about?

Eyes: Are your chooks' eyes bright, fully open and free of crust or discharge?

Feathers: After your chooks' moult is finished, are their feathers full and shiny? Are they free from ticks, lice, mites and other parasites?

Scales (on the surface of a chicken's legs and feet): Are your chooks' leg scales firm and lying flat (not lifting or swollen)?

Crop (the expandable pouch inside the base of a chicken's neck): Are your chooks' crops soft and empty first thing in the morning?

Vent (where everything exits): Are your chooks' vents free of protrusions, redness or discharge?

If you can tick off all these, you have completed your chook check-up list and you can put a feather in your cap.


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