Friday, October 10, 2008

Nine books for newbies to urban chickens

With the recent down-turn (nose dive?) in the economy, there seems to be renewed interest in raising our own food as a way to hedge against the rising costs at the local supermarket. Good on you for thinking beyond just growing your own veggies, but looking to see how to raise your own source for eggs. With the help of other urban chicken farmers visiting this blog, I've pulled together this list of books to help you go into urban chicken farming with eyes wide open.

Even if you don't want to buy them from Amazon, you can print out this post and take it to your library to check the books out for a short time. Come on back to the blog and share with us your own experiences with chickens in your back yard (or why you chose not to get some).

  1. Raising Chickens For Dummies Yes, the urban chickens movement has our very own "for Dummies" handbook. If you're a fan of the for Dummies format (I'm not embarrassed to admit that I am), you won't be disappointed with this book dedicated to explaining how to raise healthy and happy chickens in your backyard. If you've spent any time on BackyardChickens.com, you'll recognize co-author Rob Ludlow's name, as he's been a font of wisdom at BYC for years.

  2. Keep Chickens! Tending Small Flocks in Cities, Suburbs, and Other Small Spaces by Barbara Kilarski. Like home-grown vegetables, home-raised chickens put us in touch with our rural past, give us a sense of self-sufficiency, and provide food - eggs! - for the table that is a lot tastier than anything we could find at the supermarket. And chickens are fun! Like dogs, they bond with their owners, and like kids, they do the darnedest things. Kilarski regales the reader with tales spotlighting the joys of raising chickens, while at the same time explaining the nitty-gritty details of how to be a successful chicken keeper.

  3. Chickens in Your Backyard: A Beginner's Guide by Rick and Gail Luttmann. As they learned to raise chickens, Gail and Rick Luttmann came to realize the need for a comprehensive but clear and nontechnical guide. Their book covers all the basics in a light and entertaining sytle, from housing and feeding through incubating, bringing up chicks, butchering, and raising chickens for show.

  4. Success with Baby Chicks: A complete guide... by Robert Plamondon. Like Storey's Guide, this isn't explicitly about backyard chickens, but you'll get all the information you need to understand how to choose, order and raise chicks (if you choose to go this route).

  5. Chicken Coops: 45 Building Plans for Housing Your Flock by Judy Pangman. The title's a bit misleading, but it's still chock full of ideas for coops for your chooks. Use this book as inspiration for building your own coop, not for plans with a step-by-step guide to building the coop.

  6. Hen and the Art of Chicken Maintenance by Martin Gurdon. This is a memoir of growing up with chickens and then raising a backyard flock as an adult. While there's some good info packed into the stories, it's less on the side of reference tome and more on the side of a story well told. (all apologies to Robert Pirsig)

  7. Living with Chickens: Everything You Need to Know to Raise Your Own Backyard Flock by Jay Rossier. UrbanChickens.net reader Steven Walling says: "Wonderful style, up to date and practical advice on all aspects of small flocks. Definitely my favorite introductory book on chickens. Plus, beautiful photos, a great list of further reading, and a forward from the American Poultry Association."

  8. How to Raise Chickens: Everything You Need to Know by Christine Heinrichs. Steven says: "A solid book, especially for people who might be interested in breeding. Unlike Rossier's book, it's got a lot of interesting history and breed info, but it also covers the basics well. This is the best alternative to the Storey's book on your list, since it works for larger flocks without leaving backyarders in the dust."

  9. Choosing and Keeping Chickens by Chris Graham. Steven says: "British, but still a delightful introductory book for backyard keepers."

BONUS: Storey's Illustrated Guide to Poultry Breeds by Carol Ekarius. Per Steven, it's the best breed book on chickens, hands down.

3 comments:

Brett Baker said...

Great list and great timing for us as the pooch is about at the end of a life well lived we are looking at going country! -Brett

Whitney said...

We have the Keep Chickens! book and while it's been helpful, it's a little thin. Also it has a couple of inaccuracies, one is that she recommends cedar chips for bedding. Elsewhere I've seen this specifically NOT recommended, as they could make chickens very sick.

zanesfriend said...

For the other side, how about Betty MacDonald's "The Egg & I"?

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