PLENTY OF PLUCK: Nine-year-old Summer Farrelly is getting a name around the world as a chook whisperer.
PLENTY OF PLUCK: Nine-year-old Summer Farrelly is getting a name around the world as a chook whisperer. Craig Warhurst

Meet Summer, Bundy's world-famous chick magnet

THEY call her the Aussie chicken whisperer.

And for a nine-year-old, Summer Farrelly has plenty of pluck.

The school student is gaining international attention for her tutorials and video clips on her Facebook page Chickens to Love.

The budding entrepreneur's dream is simple: "To socialise chickens as companions so they can provide friendship, happiness, loyalty and unconditional love for those in need."

Her philosophies and the execution of her ideas has captured the attention of American psychologists, who are amazed to learn Summer is self-taught.

 

Surrounded by her "brood" in the family's suburban backyard, Summer says the idea for the business grew after she was gifted her first Polish hen, Poley, by a family friend.

"I realised how much unconditional love and friendship a companion chicken could provide. She made me feel happy, needed and special," Summer said.

"I was going through a sad time, my heart was broken. Poley helped heal my heart ... I needed her and she needed me - Poley was blind in one eye. Even though Poley is in heaven, she is always with me in my heart.

"I want others to have a chance to feel the way Poley made me feel."

Summer encourages her hens to choose their companions to "make a successful, long-lasting partnership".

"Chickens have given me an insight into the social world. Like people, chickens have individual personalities and temperaments. Like people, they are happy, sad, angry, social, anti-social, cheeky, scared and bossy," she said.

Summer uses body language to read her chickens and manage their personalities, including listening for the different tones of their chirps.

She spends anywhere from two to three hours a day with her chickens, taking them through the different stages of socialisation.

When she's at school, Summer's mum, Cynthia Hart, takes over. The chickens generally have about six hours of human contact a day.

It takes between three and eight months to socialise a hen before they "graduate" as companions and as a non-profit organisation, all proceeds are funnelled back into the running costs of the business.

"This service is to help other members in the community to feel loved, joy in their heart and acceptance - spreading the chicken love," Summer said.

What started out small is now gaining momentum, with the support of Member for Burnett Stephen Bennett and Bundaberg organisation Community Lifestyle Support both pledging money towards a coop, which will be housed at CLS and known as Summer's House.

 

The disability support service will work with Summer, who has been tasked with the job of creating a companion area at CLS, and qualified therapists to design a program for visitors to take part in. They hope to soon be able to offer leasing of coops, companion chickens, laying hens, incubators and chicks as well as visiting schools, aged care facilities and child care centres.

The companion program will be available to everyone and all potential recipients will be vetted to ensure they can adequately care for the hens. If at any stage the recipient wants to return the hen, they will be able to do so.

What makes this story even more incredible is Summer's desire for her brothers, who have been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, to be understood.

"She said, 'I hear people sometimes say things, these things hurt my feelings. I want to help people understand autism ... that we are different but not less. Please be kind to my brothers, they have feelings just like mine'," Cynthia said.

To follow Summer and her flock, visit her Facebook page Chickens to Love.



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