Backyard chooks take off
BACKYARD chickens are booming in popularity and the Sheridan family of Lismore can see why.
Georgia Sheridan, 4, and Jacob Sheridan, 6, can't wait for their Dad to build a pen so they can keep six chickens in their backyard.
Georgia's grandfather, Terry Sheridan, keeps silver lace wyandottes and he's just hatched some brown leghorn chickens for Georgia.
"It means she knows where they come from and she loves collecting the eggs," he said.
Georgia's mother, Alana Sheridan, said her children are thrilled about getting their own chooks.
"It's a good way to get rid of food scraps, you get better compost and nice fresh eggs," she said.
The Australian Egg Corporation estimates eggs laid in backyards make up nearly 12% of Australia's total annual production.
Rural Buying Service sales assistant Heather Fletcher said chickens are popular in Lismore, with the store selling 200 to 300 a month. "Some people want them to lay eggs or as pets and they often name them and become quite attached to them," she said.
But the egg industry warns an oversupply of eggs could hurt farmers.
"They said the same thing last year and it didn't eventuate, primarily because of disease pressures," said Simon Cripps-Clark of Organigrow, one of the North Coast's largest free-range chicken producers,
However Mr Cripps-Clark said he has noticed a "huge difference" in demand for eggs in spring, when backyard chickens start laying.
"You tend to get peak production in commercial free-range flocks then, so the demand does go down, but the rest of the year people are screaming for eggs."
Mr Cripps-Clark said backyard producers were not a threat and he wished more would do it.
"It's a big advantage to have backyard set-ups because then people see how nice chooks are and how cruel it is to keep them locked up in a dark cage where they are de-beaked and never allowed to go outside," he said.