This basic guide to keeping chickens provides foundational information on the care of poultry in a small scale setting. Beginning with an overview of the history and basic principles of poultry, the work covers topics such as choosing breeds, feeding, pest control, hatching chicks, optimization of egg production, and the care of other fowl such as geese, turkeys, and ducks. Chapters are arranged in brief, easy-to-read sections and a selection of egg and chicken recipes is included. Head raises chickens and bees in East Sussex, UK.
Regular readers to my blog will know that I'm a keen chicken keeper. I have 4 years experience of keeping ex battery hens (some of which have been very needy through no fault of their own) so I was super excited to be sent The Chicken Handbook to review, along with another book, The Beekeeping Handbook. The latter I have no experience of at all but it does interest me and is relevant to my sustainable life style.
Naturally, The Chicken Handbook was the book that I reached for first. The book has a very inviting front cover and easy to follow contents. I particularly like how the author starts the book with the history of the chicken and then carries on to cover chickens needs such as housing and feeding equipment before naming and explaining all the different chicken breeds. This gives the reader a solid foundation of knowledge on which to build on and well-informed choices, thus avoiding the mistake of purchasing chickens before being ready to cater for the most basic of their needs. I was further impressed with the section explaining in detail the daily, weekly and monthly routine required to keep chickens happy and healthy. I feel this information is well placed within the book contents and crucial to know, particularly for those thinking about keeping a flock of garden hens. There are some tips and facts within the book to avoid problems with chicken keeping in urban areas, such as seeking permission from your landlord or checking house deeds before going ahead and keeping chickens.
If you're not squeamish (unlike me) and wish to raise your own meat birds, you'll be pleased to know that the book covers how to humanely cull birds for the table, including plucking and evisceration. I'll admit, this was the one and only section of the book that I was pleased not to see photographs. For those who like to dabble in the kitchen, there's a handy section with recipes using your own meat and eggs.
Overall I am very impressed with the amount of topics and information covered in this book. There are well detailed and clearly explained sections on choosing chickens, bringing chickens home and settling them in, A-Z of pests and diseases, behavioral problems, chicken and egg anatomy, chicken breeds, predators, showing, feeding, housing, and raising chicks to name a few. My only criticism is there are no photographs, particularly of the different chicken breeds. As lovely as the illustrations are throughout the book, personally I prefer to look at photographs to get a better idea of colour and size etc. This is merely a nit pick and shouldn't detract from the overall quality or experience of the book content.
Chickens are not the only feathered friends to be featured in the book. I'm currently swotting up on how to keep quail, guinea fowl, turkeys, geese and ducks! This is a handy book to refer to for experienced chicken keepers and very informative and easy to follow for the new chicken keeper.