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When our lifestyle “tweaking” began, we decided to get some chickens. The idea was based around the good organic gardening principles of having some chooks around to scratch and manure the veggie garden, remove the various insect pests and of course - provide us with beautiful fresh eggs.

So, off we went and purchased 5 point-of-lay ISA Brown hens. It wasn’t long before our plan seemed to be working well. Within a few months we were getting at least 3 eggs, often 4 eggs and sometimes 5 eggs a day. Our neighbours were very appreciative!

However, after about 18 months of laying, we noticed a sharp decline in egg production to the point where we were lucky to get even 1 a day. Of course, the other duties that the girls were expected to complete were going well, but egg production was a concern.

Approximately 6 months ago, we started to reconsider the “girl’s” future and started to do some reading about the different types of “chooks” available. Our research indicated that we had made a mistake choosing our ISA Brown hybrid chickens. Apparently they were bred for high egg production, but over a relatively short period of time. Apparently, our 2 year old ISA Brown girls were past their “use by date”.

Pure Breeds vs Hybrids

Further reading informed me that purebred chickens might have a lower egg yield, but would continue laying for much longer - some claim for up to eight years. 

So it was retirement for the ISA Brown’s and off I went to a chicken breeder to purchase some purebred chickens. Later that day I arrived home with 2 x Australorps, 1 x Light Sussex, 1 x Speckled Sussex, 1 x Pekin  and 1 x Faverolles. My reasoning was that I would maximise the egg laying longevity of the flock by having a range of breeds - I guess time will tell.

So how are they going ............ 6 months after arriving in their new home, our 6 purebred chickens are producing anywhere from 2 to 5 eggs a day - so far so good.

If you are considering getting chickens, or are looking at changing your flock, I would certainly recommend that you get purebred chickens. In the garden, they do the same job as the old hybrids, produce more than enough eggs for us, and are certainly more aesthetically pleasing on the eye ....... but I guess that is just a personal opinion.

PS ...... retirement for the ISA Browns meant happy days at the local school farm where pre-school children were able to enjoy having chickens as apart of their classroom.

About the author: Steven McLean

I am an educator and passionate gardener and traveler. Throughout my adult life, gardening has been my passion, therapy, drive and source of purpose. Even as a child I had an intrinsic interest in plants and a desire to understand what makes them grow.

I distinctly remember the moment this began - my family was on one of our regular road trips from Hervey Bay; Australia. We were driving past a field of sugar cane. Dad pulled the car over and we cut a couple of sugar cane stems and brought them home for a treat. To be honest, I didn’t really like the taste, but I did want to try and grow it; and that is exactly what I did. It was then that my fascination, interest and passion for gardening and understanding plants began.

Fast forward a few years and I studied biological sciences and began what would be a 36 year career as a Biology educator. From this, I don’t only love gardening, but I also love helping others learn about gardening. I am also always looking for new ways to develop my own gardening knowledge. I like to think I am truly a life-long learner.

Fundamental to my beliefs about education is that learning is often best done as a part of a community - learning from others, and helping others to learn. It is this type of community that I hope iCultivate will be for its members - a community of gardeners, keen to share their gardening knowledge and wanting to learn about new ways to garden - a community built on the love of gardening.

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