We Love Chooks

We Love Chooks

We Love Chooks

We recently interviewed James from The Stables of Como in South Yarra, Melbourne about the beloved chooks who live behind the café by the veggie gardens, set against the charming Como House and Gardens.

Pet Horse & Farm sell a great range of chook supplies & deliver all over Melbourne. Check out the Chook page our website:


Firstly James, how many chooks are at The Stables of Como? And what are their names? 

There were five chooks when we started… Unfortunately one got Marek's disease, a condition that is common in chickens. Most chickens (including all the Stables chooks) are vaccinated against it but it is only 98% effective.

Sadly the fourth chook didn’t get along with the other breeds and had to be relocated.

There are therefore now three chooks at Stables.

Jason Jones and his partner named the chooks when they were managing the café. Names included Coco Chanel, Lady Grantham, and a few others I have not managed to retain… 

What breed are they, how did you select them & where were they purchased? 

The chooks were purchased from Abundant Layers www.abundantlayers.com.au

I selected a mixed flock based on their laying ability, temperament and of course looks. It was exciting to try some new breeds and have a variety of personalities in the pen. As the flock was mixed it was important to get them together when they were younger. This enables them to establish their pecking order as they mature. The younger the better with mixed flocks but chicks need a warm cozy environment, eight week olds can go straight into the coop. Typically the ladies will start laying at 26 weeks. 

The five chook breeds I chose for The Stables of Como were:


-       Great Winter layer

-       Big, black beautiful bird

-       Approx.  280 eggs a year

Coronation Sussex

-       Great layer

-       Also a big bird, white

-       240 – 260 eggs a year

Rhode Island Red

-       Consistent laying breed

-       I have a soft spot for them as I grew up with a big flock of them.

-       Good foragers, they love to be in the garden with you as you dig to jump on any grubs you dig up.

-       They are very curious & quite intelligent

-       Brown/red feathers

-       240 – 260 eggs a year


-       Black & gold colorings

-       Can be a little flighty but beautiful feathers

-       Also good foragers

-       220 – 240 eggs a year

Plymouth Rock

-       White & black speckled feathers

-       Big bird

-       Very calm & friendly bird

-       220 – 240 eggs a year

The three remaining chicken breeds at Como are:

-       Australorp

-       Rhode Island Red 

-       Plymouth Rock

What would you say are the main benefits of having chooks? Aside from laying eggs of course! 

There are many benefits of having chooks.

Firstly, I think chooks are a great first pet. They are low maintenance, relatively inexpensive once you have set up a coop and they provide produce in the form of eggs and manure!

Chooks have an inquisitive nature that make them great fun for kids. They encourage kids to explore the garden in the search of worms and other tasty chicken treats. 

They can be used in conjunction with garden rotations or for fertilizing the lawn with the aid of a portable coop.

Are the majority of the Cafe fruit & vegetable scraps given to the chooks? They were eating a plate of scones when I last saw them!

The café puts most of its scraps into the National Trust gardeners’ compost. These guys do a great job at looking after the rest of the grounds at Como House. We then incorporate the compost back into the soil in the veggie patches near the chicken coop.

The Como chickens get a bucket of tasty treats most days. Chickens will eat most things so it is important to make sure you are giving them the right selection of fresh scraps to ensure they stay healthy.  

We sell a great selection of organic chook feed at Pet Horse & Farm. What sort of products & food do you think give the chooks the best results?

For consistent laying it is important to provide a stable base to a chicken’s diet - I like to use pellets. It is important to buy good quality pellets. I also like to give them ‘scratchings’ which are a mix of tasty grains you can spread over the ground for them to chase as well as weeds from the garden and scraps from the kitchen.

There are some scraps and plants that you shouldn’t feed chickens including avocado, rhubarb, onion, garlic, citrus fruits and any other scraps that are poisonous or go moldy quickly.

The RSPCA website has a great guide to feeding chickens:



The Stables of Como

Como House & Garden

Cnr Williams Road & Lechlade Ave

South Yarra Victoria