Cory Hershberger
August 21, 2014

The Book for Beginning Chicken Keepers

At a Glance 

Title: My Pet Chicken Handbook: Sensible Advice and Savvy Answers for Raising Backyard Chickens
Authors: Lissa Lucas and Traci Torres
Publisher: Rodale Books
Release Date: 2013
Cover Price: $17.99
Target Audience: Beginning chicken keepers looking to keep their birds as pets

Nobody loves being a newbie. Learning curves may be beneficial and educational in the long run, but they’re certainly not fun to be in the middle of, especially when making mistakes and dealing with the consequences are part of the arc. Lissa Lucas and Traci Torres, the experts behind My Pet Chicken, understand that feeling and have done their best to spare newbie chicken keepers this irritation with their new book, My Pet Chicken Handbook.

Split into five parts, the handy reference is packed full of useful information for beginning and experienced chicken keepers alike, spanning the spectrum from deciding to keep chickens to collecting your first egg from the nest box. Each part is further comprised of separate chapters, breaking down the wealth of information within into bite-sized chunks, complete with individual anecdotes and notes from both authors scattered throughout.

Designed to turn chicken enthusiasts into poultry professionals, My Pet Chicken Handbook is full of practical information gleaned from years of chicken-keeping experience. Because of that, this book is a valuable resource, but keep the title in mind before you pick up a copy for yourself: This is a manual for chicken keepers who plan on treating their birds as pets. That is not to say that the book isn’t useful to farmers raising chickens for meat or eggs; rather, it is just focused on casual chicken keepers with fewer birds instead of farmers with production flocks.

In addition to the poultry how-to, there is also a collection of egg recipes in the back of the book that is perfect for using up the bounty you’ll eventually be receiving from your hens. Maybe the two most valuable sections of the book, however, are the chicken-breed comparison chart and the chapter on decoding hatchery catalog jargon. The chart compares more than 70 chicken breeds in categories including cold and heat hardiness, broodiness, lay rate, and docility. Narrowing down breeds to raise has maybe never been easier, especially when you take the vernacular breakdown into account, aptly titled “Truth in (Chicken) Advertising.”

The Final Word: Ready to take the next step from researching chicken keeping to actually doing it? Pick up My Pet Chicken Handbook—you won’t be disappointed.

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