The book, A chicken in every yard by Robert and Hannah Litt, is the urban Farm Store’s Guide to Chicken Keeping, a comprehensive guide for beginners in keeping egg laying chickens. The pages have bright and attractively colored photos, and the book is laid out fairly well. The preface lays out the authors meeting and getting married, and their mutual interest in chicken keeping, which led to the Urban Farm Store.
Chapter 1 is titled “Why Keep Chickens?,” and it lists a number of practical considerations for keeping chickens- affections, educational value, aesthetic value, and fun and humor. Fun facts are sprinkled throughout the chapter, bringing us to the next chapter, planning. It reminds us that planning is important, and the things that chickens will need to survive. Space requirements including numbers, and cost are covered (about $150 initially), as well as law issues. The 3rd is picking breeds, and it covers the pros and cons of purchasing pullets or chicks. Common breeds are profiled, giving you an educated way to choose breeds of your chicks, and covers important considerations such as egg production, and notes on it in a flock. There are even lists of which chickens are best with kids, low maintenance, etc.
The fourth chapter is about raising chicks. Preparation is covered, as well as accommodations for the chicks, and an item checklist. All the questions about raising chicks are covered, from warmth to litter material, and we are taken through an ideal first day at home for the chicks. Chick maintenance is covered in great detail, as is chick health, including trouble shooting chicks. The transition to outdoors brings us to Coops and Runs, chapter 5.
Coops and Runs lists the features of well-built coop and run, and gives you the essential needs that must be met- shelter, protection, and daily needs- as well as how to handle these. Diagrams for their construction and instructions on their maintenance are also included.Chapter 6 is about Adult Chickens, and covers the basics for when your flock matures. It covers the importance of routine, the many options in feed (including when to switch them around), grit, storage and equipment, and other basic information needed. I have found this chapter particularly useful for reference- it lists amounts of food per chicken, how to catch a chicken, and introducing new chickens to the flock.
Seven covers health management. There’s a diagram of all the parts of a chicken in the section on prevention, and has a general care section in the beginning that goes on to become a detailed assessment of health and a record of illnesses and how to recognize and deal with them (as well as prevention). Eight is the final chapter, and it is all about eggs- what they are, the important factors for steady laying, storage, nutritional value, and how to make them. There’s an interesting diagram in the beginning of the chapter that depicts the parts of the egg, and I have found the section on laying particularly useful for troubleshooting issues with the eggs and when the chickens don’t lay. At the end of the chapter is a list of resources, and then an index.
I have found this book to be helpful while getting started in chickens, and would recommend it to beginners in the world of chicken keeping. However, I was disappointed that the emphasis on urban farming meant that they left out information for small-scale farmers. There was little to no information on keeping chickens in a barn, or any examples of coops in a barn. It also is sometimes difficult to find information quickly in the book.