While the last few columns have been on the rare breeds, a few readers I have encountered at shows recently have asked me about getting a few chooks for the farm.
They were not looking for anything special, just good all-round type birds that are easy to get and will produce for a few years.
While of course it depends much on what you like, the best utility breeds are the old favourites such as the Australorp, the Rhode Island and the Wyandotte.
Another is the Langshan, but it does have foot feather and many don't like this feature on the farm.
The first three breeds have the ability to lay a goodly number of eggs and can also be used for the table when you have an excess of cockerels.
They will sit on eggs and are a heavier breed so are not flighty and easy to keep in an area rather than have them rummaging through the vegetable patch.
These breeds are always available from a wide range of breeders and can be of a good price if you don't want show birds.
Show culls are still excellent birds for the farm.
Of the breeds that lay eggs and are called lighter breeds by classification, the Leghorn is probably the farmer's favourite and are still a very popular breed.
These fowl lay a higher than average number of eggs are active and aware birds.
They will range well and come in a wide variety of colours with white being the most common and popular with breeders.
Leghorns are easily obtained and have a good size white egg, are flighty and will need to be contained.
I recommend a brown or darker colour as the white is a beacon for predators if they are not well penned or have some natural cover.
Growing up around Yass, everyone had chooks on the farm and often friends had farm chooks and show chooks on the same farm.
Back in the day, the hard feather breeds such as the Aussie Pit Game and Old English Game where kept as they could be "let loose" around the place.
They generally fend for themselves, perching high at night to evade the inevitable fox.
One way to find the chook that suits is to ask around at your local show to see what people in your area are keeping.
I bet you will get plenty of help and advice down at the poultry pavilion.
- Bruce Pattinson is a past president of the NSW Exhibition Poultry Association. Email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org; message on Facebook at m.me/thelandsmartfarmer or post to: Chook Feed, PO Box 25, Kogarah, 2217, with your name and daytime contact number.