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March 2024

Meet Elaine: The Chicken Whisperer of Ocean Grove


It all started with a lost chicken in need of a home. Elaine adopted it and started her chicken journey.

I called her Flapper, and she went everywhere, did everything, she just loved everything. That one chook that was the love of my life.

When asked what drives her when it comes to her chickens, Elaine says she’s guided by the bond she shares with them.

It’s love. They are a lot of work, and not having any family they give you a purpose in life. Sometimes life’s not so easy. But you’re out doing what you have to do for the chooks.

When Elaine says ‘out’ she doesn’t just mean the backyard. She takes her chickens out with her on trips to Ocean Grove Beach, Point Londsdale, the Barwon River and even to ride Geelong’s Sky Wheel.

Her chickens’ antics have been reported in multiple news outlets, including an appearance on Channel 9 News as well as in print for the ABC, The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald, and The Geelong Advertiser. She also gives talks at aged care facilities.

I take in Pom Pom, she’s a chicken with dementia. I paint her nails with hot pink glitter. Everyone admires her nails.

She’s a notable woman about town in Point Lonsdale, where up to 10 of her chickens will sit on a line on a bench and take in their surroundings. Often drawing a crowd, members of the public marvel at a brood of unrestrained chickens and wonder why Elaine isn’t concerned about one of them wandering off or flying away.

That’s one of the biggest things – people don’t understand behaviour more than anything. They ask, ‘why don’t they fly away?’ and I tell them ‘would you fly away? They live in chook heaven!’

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One of the keys to ‘chook heaven’ is the level of time Elaine devotes to training and enrichment. She keeps training sessions to strictly 5-minute blocks and ensures that there are no distractions. Using this method, she’s trained her chickens to do all manner of things – from following her down the street, to skateboarding and bodysurfing.

It’s rewarding to let people know that chooks have got a brain, and they can think. It teaches people that chooks are not dumb animals that are just bred to go on a plate or lay eggs. They are smart and they amaze people.

Despite having a large brood, Elaine asserts that she’d never give up any of her chickens – though she jokes that if anyone with a good home wants one, she’s happy to gift wrap them and provide free delivery.

She continues to rescue chooks in need of a home – some instances are run-of-the-mill, such as when their previous owners can no longer take care of them. Other sound like something from a tearjerking animated film – one instance involved her rescuing a chicken that had fallen off a slaughter truck. A friend of Elaine’s found the chicken hiding in a bush by the side of the road and called her to come and pick it up. When she got there, she looked the chicken in the eye and said, ‘you’re coming to my place, you’re going to have a different life’.

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Elaine’s advice for new chicken owners is to give them credit. Take the time to get to know their personalities and this will open all sorts of possibilities. She also stresses the importance of always having more than one chicken, as they need company and will be bored and lonely without it. Finally, you can’t be seen to be favouring one chicken over another.

Chooks can get cranky. If I take one out, then there’s another one back home that’s sulking or jealous. You’ve got to spread your attention. Nothing worse than a jealous chook – it’s worse than a jealous wife!

As adoption month comes to a close, heartwarming stories like Elaine’s highlight the precious bond between pets and people. When it comes to being with her chickens, it’s defiantly a case of better together for Elaine!

Head over to the Adoption Hub page to learn more about National Pet Adoption Month and how you can make a difference.

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