By Lou Bull SeedSavers Network, Albury Wodonga
What do Daffy Duck, Chicken Little and all those other animated backyard poultry have in common that endears them to us so readily? Whatever it is and, based on the increasing references in the popular media, a resurgence has occurred in keeping backyard poultry – in particular chooks and ducks.
Personally I feel this is fantastic trend. It is really only one to two generations ago that our backyards were places of productive pride. Today’s backyards – if people can even afford them – often just support an ornamental landscape. In larger cities and regional centres such as ours, these yards are increasingly being built on the most fertile soil as well. Compared to other city and rural areas around the world we (Australians) don’t maximise the use of these productive spaces for food growing.
Adding poultry (chooks or ducks) to your backyard – productive or ornamental, has many benefits. Aside from the usual and well publicised themes of pest control, manure for your garden and eggs, other benefits include: companionship, providing opportunities for connections to neighbours (what neighbour doesn’t like a gift of excess eggs) and providing individuals and families with an insight into managing and caring for livestock. Considering 80% of our population now live in urban locations, understanding food systems becomes a really important factor to consider.
For the really dedicated, back yard poultry can also be a source of protein.
Poultry has some of the quickest turn around times for meat production compared to larger animals. This is also a more realistic option for backyards than raising sheep or cattle. Raising backyard poultry can provide families a wonderful insight into and discussion point about how some of our food is produced. Some may find this controversial or even difficult to raise – particularly with children who have names for their pets, but it is a discussion well worth having.
I couldn’t imagine our backyard without the sounds of the chooks promptly running to the rooster who has announced his latest yummy find or the joy the ducks splashing and quacking when given a fresh pond of water. I also love the chasing games that are happening at the moment as the animals hunt down the hundreds of white cabbage moths flying around. So, whatever backyard you have – consider adding your humble Daffy Duck or Chicken Little as this is something few would regret.