LIVING in the city doesn’t mean you can’t have chooks says Mt Hawthorn’s Irma Lachmund.
She’s had hens at her place ever since her neighbour went on holiday for three months and asked her to chicken-sit.
When the neighbour returned she had to hand back her new friends, enduring just two cluck-free days before heading out to get her own.
“I was addicted to chickens!” Ms Lachmund laughs. “I love to sit outside with a cup of coffee and watch the chickens. My boyfriend always says ‘you’re watching chicken telly again’.”
While the flighty birds with little brains are undoubtedly entertaining, the main reason she got them in was so they’d eat the slaters pillaging her vegies. She’d rather chickens eat the bugs instead of laying down poisons.
Ms Lachmund’s now starting up the Urban Chook Network. A member of Transition Town Mt Hawthorn (a resident-driven group all about sustainability) she wants to build a community amongst chook owners, and share ideas and tips on keeping them in the suburbs while encouraging newbies to get their own brood.
“We want to encourage people into their own food production,” she says, enjoying the flow of free-range chicken eggs for her omelettes.
Perth’s heat is one troublesome thing about keeping them in the city: above 35 degrees and they start to struggle and need constant cool water and be fed at night so the energy produced while digesting doesn’t overheat them.
It’s also tough to navigate the maze of arcane local laws that still forbid roosters, or enclosures within 15m of neighbouring dwellings, or any chooks south of Vincent Street. While some rules are often ignored, you’ll buy a rooster at your peril.
Ms Lachmund’s chook affinity goes back to her days as a young girl growing up on a German farm: “Everyone had a duty,” she says, “and mine was to bring in the chicken eggs”.
There’s more info on her Facebook page Urban Chooks Perth, and there’s a launch at Vincent city council on January 20 at 6pm, RSVP email@example.com
by DAVID BELL