Coby Chambers is a chicken's best friend.

Known to his pals at Mosston School as the "chicken master", the 10-year-old has a remarkable bond with his flock of chickens - 17 rescued battery hens and three chicks.

They are so close that when he goes away, his feathered firends stop laying eggs.

Coby earns his pocket money by doing chores around the house, and saves it up to buy more battery hens, each one costing $5.

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He nurses the hens back to health until they begin laying again, and then sells the eggs to friends and family to pay for chicken food. His chooks are getting so productive that he has started making a profit from the egg sales.

"When I get the hens, they don't have any feathers and they're quite thin and sick," Coby told the Chronicle.

"It's a good feeling to be able to rescue them."

Coby knows each individual hen by its personality - the cheekiest is Lady, who has only one eye - and all except the most recent arrivals have names.

"I like to wait until they have all their feathers before I name them."

He has three different breeds of hens, although most of them are brown shavers.

And now Coby is branching out. For his birthday he's asked his mum for two piglets so he can start breeding them.

Coby's love of chickens began when his mum encouraged him to spend more time outside and less time playing on his electronic devices.

"He's always been quite keen on animals, so I encouraged him in that direction," Chrissy Chambers said.

"Now he spends most of his spare time with his hens. He'll come home at 3 o'clock and still be out there at 6. They just follow him around everywhere, and when he goes to stay with his dad they stop laying."

Ms Chambers said she thought her son's love of animals was "awesome".

"We always have fresh eggs - and they're the best eggs. Caring for the hens is really practical, and it's teaching him skills that he won't learn in a classroom."

The family lives on three hectares of land near Mosston School and, as well as the hens, they have calves, steers, horses, turtles, fish and dogs.

Photo / Stuart Munro
Photo / Stuart Munro