Internationally known as The Chicken Chick®, Kathy Shea Mormino brings an informative style and fresh perspective on raising backyard chickens to millions of fans around the world. An attorney by profession, Kathy is the founder and one-woman creative force behind her wildly popular and award-winning Facebook page and blog, The-Chicken-Chick.com.
Now her practical, down-to-earth approach to chicken-keeping is available in book form. Sharing her years of hard-earned experience and collaborations with poultry veterinarians, nutritionists, and professors, she provides simple steps to care for these uncommon pets with confidence. Kathy’s personality permeates the book as she guides newbie, veteran, and would-be backyard chickeneers alike through all aspects of small-flock care—from getting into the hobby to housing, feeding, egg production, health, and much more. The result is accurate information presented in the fun and abundantly illustrated format that Mormino has delivered on her blog for years.
From the Publisher
In the hope of sparing some growing pains for those about to embark on chicken keeping, I asked my Facebook fans to help compile a list of things we wish we had known before getting our first chickens.
(1) Do your homework chickens are a commitment. They can live 8, 10, 15 years or longer. (2) Don’t assume that it’s legal just because others in the neighborhood are doing it. Research permit requirements, flock limits, and rooster restrictions. (3) Don’t be afraid to petition local government to change the law. (4) A hen does not necessarily lay an egg every day. Many factors play a role in this—some you can influence, others . . . not so much. (5) When purchasing female chicks, remember that vent sexing (see in chapter 5) is only 90 percent accurate. Have a plan for roosters that cannot be kept. (6) Do it right the first time—don’t cut corners. (7) Coop placement is important—shade in summer, dry location in rainy climates. (8) ‘People-friendly’ coops and runs are easier to clean and maintain. (9) Install removable roosts and droppings boards for easier cleaning. (10) Their habitat will never be complete. (11) Buy or build a bigger coop than you think you need. Chicken math is real. (12) Buy from a reputable, National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP)–certified breeder or hatchery—not an auction or swap. (13) Chicken wire is not predator-proof—use hardware cloth. (14) A hen’s most productive egg-laying years are her first two. After that, production declines. (15) Chicken scratch is not chicken feed. (16) Chickens will take dust baths in the location you least want them to. (17) Do not underestimate how much you will love them and how much they will change your life. You may wish you had gotten chickens years ago. (18) And a personal favorite, from Tiffany M.: ‘Make sure they are signed up for The Chicken Chick’s blog and ‘like’ her on Facebook.’
Dust Bathing Areas
In an activity known as dust bathing, chickens dig shallow ditches in the ground, dredge themselves in the loose sand or dirt, and then shake it off along with old skin cells and hitchhiking insects. Chickens also dust bathe to relax, socialize, and cool off in hot weather. Few chicken activities are as entertaining to witness as a dust bath.
Chapter Nine: Seasonal Considerations
Allowing a hen to hatch eggs is significantly easier than monitoring and managing the process in an electric box. Broody hens handle all the details, from temperature and humidity control to egg turning and raising the chicks. This half Black Copper Marans and half Wheaten Marans is ellen deHeneres. Her chick is a Dorking.