Have you ever picked up a book, skimmed through it and thought, “Yes, this is exactly what I’m looking for!” only to get home and find out you’ve bought something with a bunch of fluff and not much substance? That was my experience with trying to find a book that would help me, a beginner, with raising chickens.
I didn’t want a book that told me all the benefits of having chickens for friends. I wasn’t into the “nature as god” aspects of a Mother Earth philosophy. It was strictly economical. I wanted fresh eggs, the ability to put some poultry free of medicines and chemicals into the freezer, and to have a source of natural fertilizer for my garden.
Good luck trying to find a book that was that bare bones and devoid of sappy emotionalism!
I finally called my nephew, a poultry science major at the University of Mississippi and asked him for some help finding a book that would give me the information I wanted. Included in his recommended reading list was Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens by Gail Damerov. It was easily the best book I have every read on the subject.
Gail Damerov is probably one of the foremost authorities on raising chickens. She is a regular contributor to Backyard Poultry Magazine, has written or contributed to more than a dozen books, and is heavily involved in a rural lifestyle in Tennessee, raising livestock and gardening. But even that is not enough to recommend this book.
Gail speaks in an easy, conversational tone with information packed in each word. There’s no digression into flights of fantasy with unicorns and butterflies. She writes in a down-to-earth way with authority and knowledge.
She explains the different breeds of chickens, how to choose breeds based on your needs and housing abilities, how to raise chickens, what feed they need, the butchering process, general management and so much more. You couldn’t take a college course and learn this much about poultry if you tried.
Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens should be on any back-to-basics enthusiast’s bookshelf. If you have to limit yourself to just one book on poultry, this is the one.