Chicken tender: Is Ayvah NZ's youngest chicken farmer?
Standing in her pink gumboots, her small arms wrapped around her favourite feathered friend, Ayvah Knight-Mackel is a happy girl.
The 3-year-old chicken owner adores her poultry pals and for Nugget, Chickaletta and Chickey-Babe, the feeling is mutual.
Proud mum Sheralee Knight says life for Ayvah is all about her chickens.
"In the afternoon you'll find her outside trotting along behind them making sure they are OK," Sheralee says.
"If she could, she would have them all sleep in her bed too, but I've had to draw the line somewhere."
The young Renwick girl, possibly New Zealand's youngest poultry farmer, got her beloved chooks four months ago.
Rain or shine, she goes out after they take her sister to school to check their grain supply, clean and refill their water, and collect their eggs, Sheralee says.
Alongside a cockatiel and a 4-month-old puppy called Shadey, the chickens rule the roost.
"Nugget doesn't like sleeping in the coop at night and prefers to sleep on the porch outside the door on the edge of a box we put there for her," mum-of-three Sheralee says.
"If the others look like they're going to sleep there too, Ayvah will gently shoo them away, she knows that's Nugget's special spot."
At 5-years-old, Nugget is the oldest of the trio. The other two are 4-months-old.
Their every movement is carefully watched by Ayvah who will stop at nothing to make sure they are happy and well-fed.
"She spends so much time with them, I think she'd give up her sisters before she gave the chickens up.
"When we first got them she wasn't too sure but within 24 hours she was picking them up and patting them. She knows if they flap their wings to put them down and then she'll stay with them and make sure they're OK until they're calm again.
"I think she'll grow up to be a vet or a farmer.
"These chickens are her best friends and I swear she loves them the most," Sheralee says.
- The Marlborough Express