Young Chicken Farmers: Vickie Black’s insightful guide to keeping hens for kids

chickensYoung Chicken Farmers: Tips for Raising Backyard Chickens by Vickie Black and published by Beaver’s Pond Press, is a wonderfully child-friendly introduction to these most fascinating of creatures – chickens. And what better day to review this book than World Egg Day!

I’m a huge hen fan and wouldn’t be without them pottering around my garden. They add a splash of colour and a fascinating personality to the outdoors scenery. And this is what makes them such rewarding creatures to keep – that, and the eggs they lay of course. Their independence and resilience mean they’re very good ‘pets’ for children since they’re not quite so frighteningly dependent as a small furry rodent shut in a cage. They also interact more and you’re never bored with a chicken’s antics to watch.

The author takes children through all the essential stages – planning where they’ll live, finding out about different breeds, preparing carefully beforehand. She tells us how to deal with tiny chicks – from ordering them and, when receiving them, getting them to start drinking, to what to feed them, to how to handle them and how you should talk and sing to your chicks so they know when you’re coming up behind them. Hygiene for both child and chicken is emphasised throughout. We take a quick look at predators, which include hawks and dogs, also raccoons and skunks – which set this book firmly in an American setting, but would-be chicken owners in other countries will still benefit.

Vickie Black next gives us insight into chicken behaviour and also on how to keep them stimulated with toys.

As the chicks grow, the great day comes when they’ll finally start laying eggs. We learn how to prepare a nesting box, how to test eggs to make sure they’re fresh and told how healthy and versatile they are for us to eat.

There’s a glossary and a short reference section. There are jokes and wonderful photos which all readers of every age will enjoy.

This is a really delightful, informative and encouraging book for children. There’s more than enough advice to get youngsters safely started on this rewarding hobby which hopefully will stay with them all their lives.