ONCE you've developed a taste for home-laid eggs there's no going back. That's the resounding opinion of the growing number of Gympie residents introducing chicken coops into their backyards.
More and more people are finding out that a couple of chooks in the backyard is not only a great source of fresh eggs, but they are also low-maintenance, child-friendly pets.
Backyard chook pens have made a big comeback since "chook tractors" hit the market in 2003. Keeping chooks began to look as easy as having guinea pigs.
The surge in popularity of sustainable living, combined with an interest in poultry as pets turned a hobby making mobile chicken coops and runs - known as chicken tractors - into a business for former Gympie couple, the McCallums.
They now supply mobile pens to all types of homes in the country, from houses in the middle of cities to suburban homes and large residential properties in regional areas.
Former Gympie woman Grace Williams said her family was lucky to get their eggs from a backyard chicken coop in Gympie.
"My mother brings them to us (we live in Bundaberg) from her lovely friend... Once you've had homegrown you cannot go back to fake-tasting eggs that you get from the supermarkets," she said.
While Australians are buying and devouring more eggs than ever - egg sales in Australia have hit a record high - the Australian Egg Corporation estimates that home-grown eggs make up nearly 12% of the country's total annual production.
The producer-owned Australian Egg Cporation has released figures claiming an average Australian ate more than 210 eggs last financial year, up on the five-year average of 183 eggs, but the trend towards home-grown eggs has caused a 6% drop in egg sales.
Keeping a rooster is prohibited on a residential property less than 10,000sqm.
You cannot keep chickens if your property is less than 1000sqm.
You can keep up to eight chickens if your property is larger than 1000sqm, up to 4000sqm.
No more than 12 poultry is allowed on properties between 4000sqm and 10,000sqm.
A chook pen must not be closer than 2m away from a property boundary.