Author: Gail Damerow
Publisher: Storey Publishing
ISBN: 978-1-61212-014-0

From the beautiful cover photos of chicks and ducklings, to the color photos throughout, and the lovely guinea, chicken, duck and goose eggs on the back cover, this soft-cover book is a delight.

I have been impressed with Gail Damerow’s books on various poultry topics for many years and she has surpassed those efforts in this excellent guide on raising your own chicks from the egg.

Part 1: The Chicks focuses on the live chicks. This part includes chapters on acquiring chicks, setting up your brooder, managing water, feed and bedding, what to expect as the chicks grow, and hatchling health issues.

Part 2: The Eggs focuses on caring for hatching eggs and how to incubate them successfully. The chapters in this part introduce the broody hen, how to select an incubator, selecting and caring for eggs for hatching, operating an incubator, determining what went wrong, and how to identify different kinds of hatchlings.

What I like most about this book is the ease of finding information on various topics. I like the organization of the materials. The photographs are stunning and the clarity of both the photographs and the text makes it easy to understand what the author is describing, whether it is how to set up an incubator or how to identify a problem such as a disease condition. I especially liked the section about homemade brooders which talks about using whatever works. There are some interesting suggestions and some very creative ideas for using various tubs or other items to make a safe and useful brooder. Using and re-using whatever is at hand creatively is a long rural and farm tradition. It is refreshing to see advice that includes conserving materials or money or both. The frank discussion on feeders reveals the advantages and disadvantages of the various chick feeder styles.

The chart estimating total feed required to bring various poultry to six weeks of age allows a new poultry raiser to budget feed costs in their first endeavor.

The chapter on hatchling health issues clearly describes a healthy chick versus a chick with signs of illness. From the stance and movement of the chick, to the appearance of the droppings, early assessment may mean the difference between saving your fledgling flock and losing them. This section discusses issues in addition to disease which can affect whether you have a healthy happy brood of chicks or sickly chicks or even lose the group. Some of the things that a new raiser might not know, such as how too much medicated feed can cause death in waterfowl, or why not all anticoccidial medications work against all species of coccidia, are presented in a clear helpful way. In addition to identifying disease, and watching for incorrect use of feeds or medications, this helpful guide talks about how some conditions such as bent toes can be corrected if intervention happens at the right time and is done in the right way.

This is Gail’s most beautiful and informative book yet. I have already had to protect my copy from being ‘borrowed’ before I was done reading it. This is an excellent guide for those wanting to raise their own chick or for teaching youth about raising chicks. I plan to give a copy to the local 4H library since it is such an excellent resource.

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