The backyard chicken boom seems to have plateaued, but there are still plenty of people who are curious about raising their own fowl.
A few years ago, we had chickens for long enough to realize that they are as much work as they are fun, especially during the really hot summer months, but as a hands-on experience for my children, it was invaluable. They learned how to water and feed the birds, how to pick them up, where they liked to hide their eggs and how to tell that the hen you bought from the farm store is really a rooster.
If your family is thinking about getting chickens, you might check out a new book called “A Kid’s Guide to Keeping Chickens: Best Breeds, Creating a Home, Care and Handling, Outdoor Fun, Crafts and Treats” (Storey Publishing, $16.95), one of the most well-rounded and eye-catching guides to raising chickens I’ve seen.
Author Melissa Caughey covers every step of the process, from hatching chicks to saying goodbye to birds that might become pets. She interviews youngsters about why they love raising chickens, ranks the most kid-friendly breeds and offers biology lessons about how chickens lay eggs, why they need different kinds of nutrients and how to treat the common ailments they might suffer.
Every page is written with kids in mind, but it’s not too juvenile for adults to enjoy: lots of photos, illustrations, DIY project ideas and a fun, encouraging tone that young readers will enjoy reading themselves. The last few chapters are all about chicken-inspired craft projects and recipes you can make with the eggs that your new friends will lay.