More clucking about hens

Backyard chicken enthusiast Dave Ingham with a friend. Image by Cath Muscat.

THEY’RE cute, cuddly, great watchdogs and give you a little gift every morning. They get rid of all the bugs in the yard, eat the kitchen scraps you can’t compost and even put themselves to bed at night.

Keeping a few hens was once only for rural dwellers with big yards – or inner-city hippies but now they’ve gone mainstream.
Chickens are great backyard pets for young and old as well as being a natural extension for everyone with a veggie patch, and for those who like eggs but are concerned about the welfare of commercial hens.
If you have ever thought about keeping laying hens in your backyard, or currently keep hens and would like to learn how to make it easier and more fun, a free workshop is on this Saturday, May 18, 1-3pm, ‘Keeping Backyard Chooks’, at Camdenville Paddock Community Garden in Wells Street, Newtown.
Facilitator Dave Ingham (no relation to the food brand) first got into hen-keeping as an impoverished uni student, when he and his mates planted a mega veggie garden – chickens were a natural extension.
With home brewed beer, plentiful free veg and eggs, those students ate far better than their penury would otherwise have allowed.
Some years, many chooks and a few houses later, Dave was invited to speak at a sustainability project and on a whim, offered to lend an old coop and couple of hens to one of the group to try out.
“Somebody coined the term Dave’s Rent-a-chook and it went from there,” he explained. “Since establishing Rent-a-chook in 2001, I have seen hen-keeping go from a hippie pursuit to something very common and entirely mainstream.”
After recently publishing his book, ‘Backyard Chickens – How to Keep Happy Hens’, Dave has become an in demand speaker at workshops, explaining the basics of keeping them and troubleshooting issues. More info at