They’re not big scale farmers by any means, but chooks are proving a handy pocket money earner for Hawkesbury Valley farm sector youngsters, Marissa and Angus Denne.
The siblings, who manage up to 30 hens on their parents’ picturesque grazing block at Grose Vale, are making their own contribution to the area’s rich farming heritage.
The Hawkesbury was effectively the cradle of Australian agriculture, deliberately settled by the nation’s first farmers specifically to feed the fledgling colony about five years the arrival of Europeans in 1788.
With some initial help from their mother, Tracy, the young Dennes have been building up their layer hen numbers and selling the eggs for about seven years.
They average 18 to 20 a day, depending on the season, selling what’s not eaten at home for $3.50 a half-dozen through Dad’s North Richmond butcher shop, Valley Meats.
The effort you put in with the chickens actually produces something
As a low-key farming venture, Marissa (15) says chooks make a rewarding hobby.
“I like being outside and the effort you put in with the chickens actually produces something,” she says.
Angus (10) says chooks are friendly and relatively easy livestock to look after, and he likes eating eggs.
“We used to have about 40 chickens, until we had a run-in with a fox,” Marissa says.
Their flock currently consists of a diverse mix of Plymouth Rock, White Sussex, Isa Brown, Australorp and White Leghorn chicken, and a couple of bantams free-ranging over about five hectares (but, banned from Mum’s vegetable garden).
The Denne family also owns a 446 hectare cattle property “Nebraska Farm” at Mendooran in Central West NSW, carrying about 130 breeders whose offspring end up at the butchery too.