Chicken Tips

Interesting tips and highlights for Backyard Chickens

Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens – A Fun Friday Review!

Are you are trying to figure out what book to buy about chickens and feel absolutely overwhelmed by all the choices on the market?  Look no further, I know the perfect book that will meet your needs.  It doesn’t matter if you are just starting out or if you have a million chickens in your backyard, this book is suitable for all types of situations.

Originally I purchased a couple of brightly colored books on chickens, and they are pretty but I wanted more detailed information.  I headed to the library to investigate because I didn’t want to waste any more money on books that weren’t meeting my needs.  I looked up “chickens” on the computer catalog and pushed all the crazy people out of my way who were looking up boring other stuff that had nothing to do with chickens–if they only knew how exciting the world of backyard chickens is!  We will change their minds someday, but that is not the point of this review; more on that another time!

Once I got to where the chicken books are, I literally sat down in front of a display of books and set-up homestead.  None of the books had the warm glow that I longed for, calling my name and asking me to pick them up.  Instead all the books were dingy and were looking sad from many fingers thumbing through the pages over the years.  I pressed on anyways.

I rummaged through a million books and made my peace with seven choices.   I wasted no time to get home and break open all the findings.

When all of the sudden this one book flew to the top of the stack and started screaming at me, “PICK ME, PICK ME!”

I picked up a book called, Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens, 3rd Edition.  I can’t begin to tell you how fast my eyes danced through this book.  After reviewing so many different backyard chicken books, I was delighted to find that this book had it all.

  • Breed information
  • Teaching about chicken behavior and pecking order
  • Coop information
  • Feed and water
  • Managing chickens: cleaning coops, handling chickens, incorporating new chickens in your existing flock, predators, weather
  • All aspects of health care, parasites, diseases, first aid
  • Layer nutrition, eggs, issues, flock replacement, egg collecting, preserving eggs
  • Breeding
  • Hatching eggs, incubating
  • Chick care, problems and solutions
  • Showing chickens and exhibiting
  • Managing how to raise birds for meat
  • Killing, evisceration, prep and sanitation

These are just a few condensed topics, but the list goes on.  I told you I wasn’t joking when I said this book has it all!

One thing to note about this book, there are no color pictures in it, but don’t let that distract you.  This book is packed with tons of valuable information but not too much that you are overwhelmed; and it’s well designed and structured to find your topics easily.

Storey’s guide to Raising Chickens by Gail Damerow, regular contributor to the great magazine Backyard Poultry and author of many books, will become your go-to book for everything.  Between this book and internet research, I’m not sure anyone needs to own many books on chickens and if they do it’s just a personal choice.

Honestly, I wish someone had told me about this book early on when I was just getting started. In fact, I have already ordered my own copy off of Amazon and I haven’t even returned my library copy yet.  Don’t miss out!  I even provide a handy link above for you to get your own.  Or you can click the picture below.  It’s also available on Kindle.  I recommend a hard copy so you can highlight and mark your favorite parts!

If you have a question about this book, please comment below.  For around $15.00, you can’t beat the price for what you get!

“Storey’s Guide to” books are written regarding many topics, poultry, ducks, rabbits, cattle, goats, sheep, pigs and honeybees.  Here are more links.  Just click on the pictures!

kimKimberly Linville is the owner of Chicken Scratch DIY.  Wife for 20 years, mother of two children ages 10 and 13, and chicken enthusiast with a passion for DIY and photography.

New Life; New Hope – How we Survived a Power Outage and Still had a Good Chick Hatch Rate with our Incubator

Yesterday, our power suddenly went out for two hours. Within seconds I received a text message from my neighbor, “Frustrated about electricity…Eggs supposed to hatch and temperature dropped :/.”

Eggs Incubator

Setting up the Incubator!

My neighbor has 40 eggs in an egg incubator that are in the process of incubating. This is her fourth time incubating eggs and each time has rewarded her with great success and happy little chicks that came out saying, “HELLO WORLD!!!”

However, today brought a new frustration and challenge with the loss of electricity. Egg Incubators require a stable temperature between 99.5 to 100 degrees and with a humidity level of between 55 degrees to 60 degrees.

This particular batch was within 24 hours of hatching. Eggs take between 18 to 21 days from the start of incubation to hatching, and this was day 17.

I called my neighbor and she informed me the temperature had been 99 degrees and it had dropped down to around 70 degrees within 15 minutes. She had to warm up the incubator and get it stable immediately. We both began to pray that the electricity would come back on, and that the chicks were okay. Brainstorming with some quick thinking and Googling, my neighbor found no easy answer without electricity.

  •  Side note – I know it’s amazing today to have innovative technology such as digital incubators, but without electricity you can not monitor humidity and temperature.  Have a back-up system in place such as an old school thermometer.  You can pick one up for a song at Amazon!

A decision was made that the incubator be moved into the sunlight to raise the temperature. Not ideal, but at least it was an attempt to remedy the situation. The outside temperature was 98 degrees. The incubator is made of plastic with Styrofoam encompassing it. Unfortunately, that was not taken into account in the “heat” of the moment.   Within 15 minutes the incubator temperature shot up to 120 degrees. “PLEASE GOD, we pray we didn’t bake the chicks!”

In a panic they were moved back out of the sun, and the lid was lifted up to release the heat in desperate attempt to stabilize the box.

Nearly two hours had passed and the next attempt was in finding a generator. Success!!! One of our neighbors has a backup generator we could get our hands on! But just as we discovered this, the electricity was reconnected. Yea!!!

Trying to get the temperature and humidity levels back on track is not an easy task. In a nutshell, the incubator went from a solid 99 degrees, down to 70 degrees within 15 minutes. Taking it outside and setting it in the sun shot the temperature inside the incubator up to 120 degrees. Once the electricity came on we were able to get the temperatures at a manageable level.

It’s been almost 24 hours since the power went out and now I am here sitting–going old school with a pen and piece of scratch paper writing this blog post seated next to the incubator while trying to stabilize the internal climate. The temperature control is very sensitive and it has taken hours to regulate it back to normal temperatures. Every little nudge of the dial pushes the temperature up and down by a couple of degrees missing the desired goal.

Now my neighbor and I are both waiting. Will there be new life?

We are diligently praying! Recognizing in standard conditions as chicken broods, temperatures and climate variances happen daily and sometimes very drastically from day to day. Is this enough hope that these chicks are still alive?

When I started this blog I shared that I would share our success stories and our struggles. This is definitely a time that is a struggle, yet I am sharing to encourage and give a new hope when life gives you something beyond our control.

I am praying in this moment for New Life; New Hope.

Follow-up: 48 hours later since we lost electricity we received New Life; New Hope. At 2:30pm today a new baby chick came with new life and happy tears of joy. God showed mercy on these chicks. Even after a rapid temperature change by a drastic 50 degree difference, chicks are hatching. We were able to catch the first chick hatching in this video.

Even better, as a little more time passed, several more chicks hatched out of their shells. In total, we received 30 baby chicks out of the 40 eggs. Biggest success yet! I am in awe of how God creates life; and even when mistakes happen that are sometimes beyond our control, God is faithful to finish His good works. Why? Because God can!

Are you looking for a great chicken incubator?  Check these out!

This post is dedicated to my dear friend Meg!  I wouldn’t be where I am today without you and your chickens!