Starting a Chook pen from Scratch

It’s been awhile since I wrote my last post, the website has changed several times, the world has gone crazy and we moved house – total chaos! Fortunately there is now peace in the chook pen at here at work as the three ‘home hens’ have found their place in the work chook pen. The old grey hen Lisa remains the ‘boss’ and matriarch, mainly I suspect because she has been in the pen the longest. The little bantam rooster ‘Grian’ and my feisty hen ‘Tiger’ spent several weeks fighting and but have totally made up… so we discovered that when a mate incubated a few of the eggs – all the green eggs produced chickens.

Given that chooks have suddenly become very trendy, (my grandparents would be thrilled to see that the backyard chook and veggie garden are the latest thing in virus survival 😀).  I thought it might be a good idea to put some lists together on what you need to keep them.  I classify chooks as a pretty easy care pet/live stock: you can leave them alone for a long weekend away and they don’t need daily walks.

So you’ve brought home a few ‘point of lay’ chooks, congratulations and welcome to the chook club. Chooks are good pets -they don’t sleep on your bed and have the bonus that they lay eggs! Yes you can create a chook palace and feed them a range of fancy treats but they can live on chicken crumbles or pellets and water. Water, food, some shelter and a nest box to lay eggs in. It’s really that simple.

Enjoy your chickens, Helen (aka the crazy chook lady) 🐣🐤🐥

The chook house here at work.

Links to our feeders, drinkers and nest boxes.



Nest Boxes:

The most popular choices:

Brinsea Mini Eco incubator

I had a customer ask about the Brinsea Mini Eco incubator… so since I took a number of photos to show them, it makes sense to share more details of this incubator on the blog. Yes yes, very weird of me to actually write about incubators on a poultry equipment shop blog, since I’ve written about ‘everything else’ and recipes 🙂 This will be only the second post on an actual incubator!

The Brinsea Mini Eco is a very cute (yes that’s my description, not Jeff’s – I don’t believe Jeff has ever called anything, much less an incubator ‘cute’ – probably not even the dogs when they were puppies 🙂 The Mini Eco makes it very easy to see the eggs with a clear top, great for watching the eggs hatch. It is classified as a 10 egg manual turn incubator but that will depend on the size of your eggs.

It has heat cables, is pre-set to 99.5F and comes with a glass thermometer. The Brinsea Mini Eco is a fan air circulated incubator. From a cleaning perspective (always something I think about!) the heat cables and fan are tucked away in the top of the unit, and like most incubators appreciate a vacuum when the machine is turned off and dry – the computer cleaning attachments for vacuum cleaners make this job even easier.

Humidity is managed with the water dishes in the base, you can keep on eye on this when you turn your eggs. As with all Brinsea products there is a lovely 2 year parts only warranty. Please note, a Mini Eco can not be ‘upgraded’ to a Mini Advance or Mini Advance EX due to their design.

To find this incubator on our website:

Ways to get rid of foxes

Haved recently suffered the lose of my much beloved rooster and hens that lived here at the shop – mostly likely to a fox.  There is a certain irony that I’ve recently written an editorial about Fox traps and ways to get rid of foxes.  So I thought it was worth sharing it here, given that recently fox traps have been just about more popular than rat traps.


Ways to get rid of foxes

Due to the large number of rabbits that have been around in recent years, the fox population is higher than usual this year. Government agencies recently released the Korean strain of Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease Virus, known as RHDV1 K5.  This seems to have caused a severe reduction in rabbit numbers in many places. So now we’ve a larger number of foxes, and without the rabbits, they are looking for alternative food sources.

We offer a number of fox trapping options and deterrents. Cage traps of various sizes with either paddle and hook style mechanisms. These start with our standard ‘metro’ fox trap and increase in size to the 1.2 meter long dog trap.
Another trap option is the rubber jaw leg hold traps – some of the local Landcare centres are running courses in their use. A different way is to deter the fox with a device such as the Foxlight, which is designed to keep foxes and other night predators away from stock by emitting random bursts of bright light with a spot light type result.

Fox/ dog trap                Fox cage Trap

These items, along with many others can be found at our Baldivis shop or the web site, where you will find traps for many sorts of pests, rodents and vermin. As well as a huge variety of poultry equipment.

FoxlightTraps Victor Soft Catch

Phone 08 – 9524 1251 in WA or 1300 881 170 within Australia. or call in to the store at 1170, Baldivis Road, Baldivis, WA. ”

To find

Big Cage Dog Traps

Heading into the ANZAC day long weekend and the surprising best seller for the last week or so has been the big cage dog traps we sell.  The biggest of the traps here in the shop are the 120 and 180cm Dog traps and I got a lesson in just how big they are when we made up a bunch of them for a local order. Mostly they get sent out flat packed – heaps cheaper for freight – so you never truly get to see just how huge they really are. As this photo below shows – 2 of the 120cm traps packed up ready to box doesn’t really look that big 🙂

Flat packed 120cm dog traps

Pile of Dog Traps

But get a few of them made up and you end up with a proper idea of their real size. The stack of traps on the right are the same 120cm dog traps, but made up.

Jef and dog trap Jeff in the process of making up the 180cm dog trap…



dog trap 180



In order to test this huge 180cm long trap, the easiest way was to get Mr nearly 7 to get inside the trap and set it off. It worked perfectly but he wasn’t particularly happy about being ‘caged’.(Yes we let him out!)



It was terrier day (Molly and Thomas love visiting) at the shop and the stack of traps was still here.  As the photos show, our dogs are dwarfed by these traps… but 5 or 6 kg terrier isn’t really the intended target! I’m told by the station guys up north that the dogs caught in these traps are getting so large that they aren’t only attacking baby calves but they are also taking on small steers.

20160414_095534              20160414_101423



To find these traps on the website:

Incubators: The 16 Egg Semi-auto Cova Tutto

So for something new, I’m actually going to do another incubator review! Jeff gives me hass that there are more recipes on this blog than incubators.  So today’s topic: the cute little 16 egg semi-auto Cova Tutto incubator.  CovaTutto 16 Semi

Anyone who talks to me about incubators rapidly discovers my favourite of our range is the Italian Cova Tuttos.  For me their big selling point is the ability to deal with any egg size.  We have many customers who may start with ‘a few chickens’…  who then find themselves the owners of some of bantams, a duck and eventually a couple geese – which they couldn’t say no to 🙂

The current model of the 16 egg Cova Tutto semi-auto incubator is a newer version of the one that hatched my rooster Bruce in our son’sCova Tutto 16 HT - globes classroom.  The Italians have smartly, now included 3 smaller globes (max 25W) rather than the one 60W globe of old.  This gives advantage that if one globe does unexpectedly blow the other two keep temperature.

It also now has a very handy egg turning Cova Tutto 16 HT - handlesetup which allows it to fit into the Semi auto or Handle turn category. This allows all the eggs to turned in one motion rather than having to turn each egg individually.  Cova Tutto 16 HT - handle set up


This is a still air machine, there is no fan.  It comes with a thermometer and complete instructions along with our hints & tips sheet.  The water can be without lifting the lid via the external water pan.

Cova Tutto 16HT working To be completely happy with the machine I ran it here at the shop and discovered that in our 24C room the incubator ran up to temperature in under 10 mins – I usually suggest putting the incubator on a least 30 mins before putting eggs in it.
In fact with a new machine, if time allows, running it for a day or so to ‘get happy’ with how it works and reassure yourself that you it is working correctly can be useful it you are as pedantic as me 🙂

Notes from our customers – this is a globe incubator, when it gets close to temperature the lights flash on/off – don’t put it in a bedroom – no matter how hard the child begs!  It will keep them awake.

To find this incubator on our website:

Big Chook Feeders

With the long weekend coming up we’ve had the usual enquires about the bigger chook feeders. Since a ‘large’ feeder will depend upon the number of fowls you are feeding (ie if you’ve only a couple of hens a 1 or 2kg feeder could be considered ‘large’ since it will provide several days feeding) for the purposes of this article I’ll look at the 8kg and bigger feeders we stock for poultry.

I was very surprised to learn, when I started here about 6 years ago, that the average laying hen will consume around 200g of food & 200mL of water (without other food, most of our customers hens also receive scraps and such so won’t actually eat that amount of layer pellets). But when you think about it, laying eggs is hard work and consumes a lot of energy, not to mention vitamins and minerals. We’ve had a number of customers comment on the very big appetites of the their rather small Isa Brown hens – who produce very big eggs, given their small body size/weight. So in order to enjoy the long weekend away without worrying about the chook food which feeders would we recommend?

The five hens (& Bruce) here at the shop have the 10kg Metal feeder in their house. This enables me not to stress about their food requirements over weekends & longer breaks (since we don’t live on the property). Fortunately my in-laws do tend to keep abit of an eye on them for the longer breaks & ‘steal’ the eggs 🙂 But I know that they have plenty of food and an automatic waterer. There is also a larger 20kg version of this feeder.

10 Kg Metal feeder with feed saver rim    20 kg Metal feeder with China Hat

The largest feeder we sell is the red ‘Range feeder’ from the US. This UV stabilised plastic feeder, comes with a weather shield and feeder saver grid to stop the chooks from flicking out the food. Customers tell us it is very nice to be able empty an entire 20kg bag of food into this feeder.

Kuhl 23kg Feeder

And then there are a number of plastic feeders – these do need to be out of sunlight:

  • The cute Italy orange chute feeders in 10 or 18 kg sizes, these can be purchased with either poultry (7.5cm) or chicken ( 4 cm)  high bases

Bulk Chicken Feeder -10 kg   Bulk Poultry Feeder - 18 kg

  • The Italians also make the yellow plastic feeders (this feeder in the 1.5kg size is our most popular chicken feeder) in a 15kg size

Novital 15 kg Yellow Feeder


  • And lastly we do carry the ‘standard’ green base feeder in an 8kg version (along with the other smaller sizes:)

For the full range of chook and other poultry feeders we stock please see:

Cleaning your Brinsea Eco Glow Brooder

Ever since I first saw the Brinsea Eco Glow Brooders I’ve wondered about how to clean them and just how dirty they would get.  It is true that the chickens, once they are old enough to come out from underneath them, love to sit on top of them – especially during the day.  So after hatching my latest batch of chickens I took photos of the Eco Glow as I clean it (the whole process took less than 15 mins – probably extended slightly by me stopping to take the photos 🙂   The nine chickens had used the Eco Glow 20 for over 6 weeks when I removed it for cleaning (6th Nov 2015 till the 17th Dec 2015 to be exact!).  So here are the cute little fluffy chickens under the Eco Glow.Eco Glow & chicks






And then as they got bigger on top of it … Eco Glow & Chicks -2

So this is how it looked on the 17th of Dec.  Dirty Eco Glow

So step 1 was scrap the solid waste material off the Eco Glow – the photo shows the scrap of wood I found in the garden to do this with.

Eco Glow cleaning 1


As you can see this made a big difference to the amount of poo on top of the Eco Glow.  Next I found a damp cloth to put on the Eco Glow to soak off the stuck poo.  The photo below shows the Eco Glow after a 5 min  ‘soak’ with a damp cloth – please note I said damp not dripping wet – and a quick wipe.  The Eco Glow does have electronics inside that does not want to get wet!

Eco Glow cleaning 2


The last two stages of the process were a more careful clean with the same damp cloth around the unit and lastly a ‘sun bathe’ to make sure it was well dried and ‘UV sterilized’.  I’m a firm believer in the benefits of sunlight for cleaning.  Saying that I didn’t left it out in blistering sun for hours – about 30 mins on a warm day, not a day like today where the temp is 40C+. 20151217_131511

So the end result is that the Eco Glow looks just a clean as it did when it started.

To find Brooders and ICU’s on our website.

Eco Glow cleaning final


Green Based Drinkers… one option of many

Green Based Drinkers in various sizes

I got a question this morning about our Green Base poultry Drinkers – one of the most common drinkers we sell and since I took a few photos of them – including one of the drinker currently in my chickens pen, I thought I would share them.  These very popular drinkers come in a collection of sizes from the chicken sized 600mL to a large 12L.

6L Green Base Drinker 6L Green Base Drinker with chick base.. and chickens

The 600mL & 1.3L  drinkers are most suitable for chickens and other small/young poultry – the dish at the bottom is about half the height of the other bases. As the chickens get larger the 6L drinker comes with a ‘chick’ insert that fits into the bottom dish to decrease the depth making it suitable for the older chickens – see the photo beside.

The big selling points about these drinkers is that they can be filled easily – the 2L and bigger drinkers have a flat top so you can rest it on a flat surface while you are filling it and that they can be hung from the handle. If you are hanging these please note that the drinker should be shoulder height on the smallest bird in the run so that they can drink easily.

6L Green Base Drinker - used
‘Used’ 6L Green base drinker been held by the handle

Close up of 4L Green Base drinker

Please find the link to not only the Green Based Drinkers – which are only one option of many, but all of our collection of drinkers on the website:

Drinkers for poultry and other animals :

Humidity observations… the next level

It’s been awhile since I’ve written and I have also hatched another lot of chickens – officially my own first ever batch, not for school, not testing anything, just for myself.  I want a few girls to keep the two remaining 11yr old hens at home company.  So I got to do everything my way 🙂 and I did alot of what Jeff tells our customers not to.  I fussed, I checked the eggs too often.  I put my hydrometer in to check the incubator (only twice!) and I learnt heaps.  Having the eggs at home, on my kitchen bench from the first week onwards meant that I could study all the problems along the way.  The air con made the incubator use heaps of water – I was topping it up twice a day – you are warned!

So what did I learn?    After opening the incubator door (to top up water or check on the eggs) the internal temperature decreases several degrees – this is fine!  Mother hens get up to feed, drink and poo.  So if you put your hydrometer in the incubator, initially the humidity appears to go up – it’s more humid in the incubator than outside (usually!) and you’ve also let alot of warm air out so the whole ‘closed’ incubator system has been disrupted.  As the temperature climbs back to the pre set temp, the humidity seems to climb too…but if you wait, you will find it hits a peak than starts to decrease again, as the heat stabilizes and the air flow in the machine returns to normal.  It can take longer than 10 minutes for the ‘normal’ humidity to re-establish itself which is why just popping a hydrometer in the incubator and taking a reading and then panicking about it is not particularly helpful.

For example  on the 5th Nov 2015 when I added water and put my Aqua Pro hydro/thermometer; the humidity peaked a few minutes after it went in at 80% but 5 or so minutes later is had gone down to 60%.  This isn’t the first time I’ve observed this.  While the IM 12 digital auto turn incubators temperature reading said 37.5C within 10 min after I had opened the incubator and added water,  the Aqua Pro took considerably longer to get there and it did eventually, but it had to climb from 21.3C in the kitchen up to the 37.5C inside the machine.  Interestingly as the temp on the Aqua Pro increased (with time) the humidity eventually stabilized to 53%… comfortably in the range it should be for the first 18 days of incubating.

 Aqua Pro Thermo/Hygrometer  (No longer in stock)

Had I not taken the time to allow the system to stabilize I would not have realized that it was my adjustment/disruption of the system that was effecting the results.  The moral of the story – if you want to use external measuring devices inside the incubator, leave them in there long enough to get a true reading 20/30 mins not 5 seconds!

Side note to the story, regardless of my fussing we hatched all 9 eggs – technically.  In reality 8 of them got themselves out and are thriving and my 9th egg/chicken ‘Caesar’ who had an assisted birth is still alive (26th Nov). Also worthy of note is that the after I left the hydrometer in for its 30mins, the readings were a perfect 37.5C and 53% humidity.  So Jeff scores the final point – when he told me I didn’t need to use external measuring device!

Caesar in the incubator

Ultrasonic Repellers for Rats and Mice

It’s been a bad mouse and rat season…  We still have customers coming in to get traps even now.  I first heard of these little ‘machines’ about 10 years ago and ever since have had one aimed at my pantry,  in that time I’ve never had a mouse or rat in my pantry.  We also have a number of them around the shop too.  No one has ever heard one… we have dogs, a cat, a small child, a wireless computer network, mobiles and the rest at home and it has never effected any of them.

The idea behind the ultrasonics is simple, they make a noise only the rodents can hear and it annoys them so much that they leave, if they are smart enough – like rats or stagger around in a drunken/headachy state if they are less intelligent and get caught in traps – mice.  Neither species likes the noise so once the existing occupants are gone, new vermin aren’t like to move in.

I’m not alone in my like of these devices, many of our customers come back for additional units once they have proved their use to themselves.  We currently carry two versions of the ultrasonic rodent repellers – the simple black box unit I have on my fridge – this covers about 40 m2.

To find it on the website:

Note: (1st Aug 2018) As of this year, the larger unit has been unavailable

And a larger, weatherproof unit as pictured below, that does 350m2.  This larger version has additional features – the frequency of the sound can be changed and is used by people wanting to keep possums out of their ceilings, or birds off their car mirrors – my father-in-law uses one for this purpose – the bird setting doesn’t affect his ‘older’ ears at all but I can hear it when I go to visit (and the first thing I do is turn it off!).  The unit also has a motion detector which can be useful for the larger animals such as possums.