It’s summer so the chook hotline has been ringing off the hook in Sun Valley.
Sun Valley produce owner Jason Hollier has been taking up to “10 or 15 calls a day” from chook owners around the Blue Mountains anxious about their chickens – the hot weather prompting an increase in conditions like chicken mites.
“It’s normally busy at this time of year, spring and summer are busier … it’s a cycle,” Mr Hollier said.
“There’s a lot of calls like ‘I’ve got a sick chicken what do I do … they’ve got funny poos, they smell, they’ve hatched chooks in the backyard .. and the mites [problem]’.
“With the heat and the humidity mites spread like crazy. It only takes a few mites and you have thousands in a few weeks.”
Chicken mites, he said had been particularly prevalent this year, and he had had to treat his own 200 or so chooks a couple of times with a product he sells in store.
“They are spread by possums, rats and wild birds,” he said, adding you got rid of the problem and “then off they go again”.
The heat generally had also been an issue but he added, “chickens handle the heat very well as long as they have shade”.
Treats like frozen containers or water, frozen peas and corn or some watermelon never went astray however on particularly hot days.
Mr Hollier took over the business in 2013 which has now been in operation for 35 years. It used to be a saddlery.
He sells 50 chickens a week, as well as pet food, fencing, potting mix and more. He has also branched out to “fancy chooks” – such as the Chilean Araucana which lays blue eggs – and he sources these specialist breeds from all around Australia.
Chooks are becoming more popular as a pet in the Mountains with 80 per cent of sales from the local area.
“We’ve nearly doubled the chooks we sell [since 2013],” he said.
And he adds they make a great intelligent, social pet and can become something of an addiction.
“They figure stuff out … they talk to each other, they have their little social groups. I see people pick out their first few hens and then are back for more a few weeks later.”