How do you produce the perfect egg? This poultry breeder shares her secrets

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Cheryl Dingle is the daughter of an elephant trainer and lion cub handler, so it’s only natural that she gravitated towards animals. But it’s chickens she loves the most.

At her property in Maldon, in central Victoria, she spends her days researching heritage poultry and working with more than 20 breeds of Australian and imported chickens.

a large chicken is flapping it's qingsa large chicken is flapping it's qings
Ms Dingle says the brahma is the largest breed, but is also the quietest.(Supplied: Cheryl Dingle)

“The barnevelder was always my favourite, but I’ve fallen in love with these other breeds that weren’t even in Australia.

“We’ve got brahmas, vorweks, lakenvelders. The brahma is the largest breed of all time, but it’s also the quietest. Children just love them.”

Busy stream of buyers

During the pandemic, Ms Dingle has had a busy stream of buyers walking up her driveway.

“I belong to two really good poultry clubs, and both tell people about my different breeds. People come out and have a look and tell me they want to breed them,” she says.

“So I get a trio ready for them, a male and two hens, and they come out and look at the pens, and enjoy learning about the traits. Not every trait suits every person.

a big white dog is close up to the camera.a big white dog is close up to the camera.
Ms Dingle has seven maremma dogs to guard her chickens.(ABC Rural: Eden Hynninen)

“And if people want a smaller breed, I recommend a little Belgium d’uccle, they’re so cute.”

The perfect egg

Ms Dingle has been on a decade-long quest, experimenting with different breeds and trying to produce the perfect egg.

a pile of eggsa pile of eggs
Ms Dingle has spent years trying to produce the perfect egg.(Supplied: Cheryl Dingle)

“If the egg is long and elongated you can imagine that little chick’s not going to have much movement, and that’s important for them to be a healthy bird.

“I wouldn’t choose a pullet egg, where a young bird has laid the egg and it’s generally smaller. They may be fertile but not ideal to breed with.”

And she has one final piece of advice for potential breeders.

chickens and chickschickens and chicks
Ms Dingle breeds her chickens from eight months old.(Supplied: Cheryl Dingle)