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Extrememly detailed. Leaves out all the old wives tales...however, there were a few things I wish they'd included that weren't.
on July 13, 2010
I have been researching the raising of chickens endlessly lately now that we picked up some baby silkies who are happily chirping in their brooder. (We are urban chick farmers and the 3rd homeowners in our small city neighborhood to have a flock, interestingly enough)
Being a city girl, I didn't have any experience in this chicken raising stuff...yet, being an animal lover and lover of research, I insist on doing it perfectly and will research it until I do.
And this helped tremendously.
While researching on the net and talking to chicken "experts" at feed stores, it amazed me how much misinformation was out there. Some said line the brooder with newspaper. (The book says no, but better yet, it listed the best ideas for liner and litter in order of preference and why). I quickly found out from REAL experts how bad newspaper is for the chicken's legs and what problems often develop from slick surfaces. Some said you can use a regular lightbulb for heat then I found out how much lig including some deformities in growth/leg problems.
So, with all the confusion I found out there from old wives tales to people who throw lots of hens in a too-hot unventilated coop old-school style without thinking of the BIRD, I ordered this book to get some real facts in one place.
I learned a lot. This will even tell you what's bad to feed them from your scraps...such as no moldy bread, bad potato parts, no avocado etc. and why.
This tells you how to select and care for your chickens through all ages and, unfortunately, even for those raising them for meat how to kill them. I DID NOT read that chapter. But I guess if someone is going to do that, at least it tells you how to do it right I suppose.
Good advice on predators...some I never thought of...and how to avoid them. Good advice on pests and how to avoid them as well.
Great info on housing too, how big, and how to have happy birds...and happy birds lay well.
Tips on getting optimum meat production.
The book is written for those rasing chicks for love, eggs, or meat. Or all three.
Here is my quandry which wasn't included and I can't find anywhere on the internet. I know some have crazy wild chickens they can't catch and others have birds that run to them and cuddle in their laps. I know much of that has to do with the breed which is why we got Silkies. I want the latter. I keep reading that the best way to get a very domesticated chicken is to get it as early as possible. We got one day old chicks...but now what? Handling them too often is stressful. But does that mean get them young so they SEE you more and are rarely handled or get them young so that you can get them used to beind domesticated and gently touched or handled? I try to pick them up briefly once a day as a guess. It didn't mention this and I can't figure it out (how best to tame a chicken) so if anyone who has raised sweet chickens knows the answer, please leave a comment for me. I don't want to stress out my birds but I want them to get used to people as much as possible, even if that sounds crazy to some. I don't want to "overhandle" or "underhandle" them. I am not sure what I'm supposed to be doing.
The other things that wasn't addressed enough is how to best raise chickens in an area that often is over 100 degrees in the summer.
While it mentioned chickens are prone to dying when it's over 90, it didn't say much about how to avoid it. It did suggest shade trees so we are going to plant some trees this weekend by the coop and I just read elsewhere that you can put 1.5" styrofoam for insulation in between the walls and ceiling and then but an aluminum roof on top to reflect the sun so, even though the coop has a roof, we are going to add this to it. That wasn't in here...they went far more into what to do in areas where it gets to cold, which is not an issue for us in Texas for the most part.
That said, There are things you wouldn't think of in here...like that A frame housing can blow over in a windy area.
The other invaluable thing to me was chicken fencing. Thank God I read it prior to buying chicken wire to line the inside of our current fencing in the area they will be be beside their coop. (many predators can easily get through it and it rusts quickly.)
Overall, I feel it was invaluable. Though I still have a couple questions left unanswered, I think most will find all they need to know within.