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Graeme Elshaug of Newstead in Victoria has had chooks around him for most of his 55 years.

Graeme Elshaug

He got his own chooks when he was 9 or 10 years of age when the late Jack McPherson gave him his first pair of large Australorps. At the age of 12 Graeme saw the Barnevelders breed and bought some from a lady at Woodend as well as sending to Tasmania for a setting of eggs. Graeme’s Barnevelders are one of many breeds this chook man has been selling for the last 5 years in partnership, with his mate Bill Wouda, at several markets around Central Victoria.

What started as a hobby now keeps the two men busy most weekends, travelling to markets and festivals in Talbot, Castlemaine, Daylesford and Trentham. Graeme is amazed at the demand for the various breeds of chooks, with some breeds such as Silkies always a popular choice for their attractiveness and motherly instincts. Other birds such as Guinea Fowl can also be in high demand at times as people want them for meat as well as being good “watch dogs” against snakes. Ducks such as Indian runners can also be in demand for their eggs and people’s gardens for pest control.

Graeme works as a full time carer for the Shire of Mount Alexander, looking after more than 50 people. He sometimes brings clients out to see the chooks. When he retires Graeme hopes to get back into the show circuit that he had to give up a few years ago for lack of time.

Graeme and Bill have had no complaints about their stock; they’ve even had an RSPCA inspector buy chooks from them at one market.

Graeme is fussy about what he feeds his birds. He doesn’t use pellets, preferring to feed his breeders during the breeding season a high protein layer crumble and at other times a free range poultry mix. Bill grows his own wheat and triticale, which they also use. Up to the age of 10 weeks Graeme’s birds are fed a mixture of 2 part Lucerne chaff, 3 part chicken crumbles, 1 part turkey starter and 2 part crushed wheat. After 10 weeks his birds go onto grower crumble.

For control of lice and mites Graeme sprays all the pens with a strong insecticide as well as using Pestene on the birds.

To catch up with Graeme or Bill, visit them at one of the local farmers’ markets in the aforementioned towns or you can try phoning Graeme on 5476 2588 or Bill on 5476 2563.

Published: Oct 23, 2009 10:25pm by stlg48.

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