The Chicken Encyclopedia by Gail Damerow

I grew up a big-city gal, so when I moved to Humboldt County to go to college, I was amazed to find a field of cows just outside the backyard of my apartment complex. Passing by each day, I’d watch them grazing with an odd sense of unreality. Cows! Right there in town! With their fuzzy heads and big wet noses, they charmed me, and all these years later that feeling of awe has never left.

So when I moved into my very own home, one of my dearest ambitions was to keep a backyard flock of chickens. I mean, cows were obviously not on, but chickens seemed doable! I could even hear evidence of ducks and chickens in the neighborhood, so I felt in good company as I brought home my first two laying hens.

However, after getting them home, I had no clue what to do. Food and water, yes, but do people let them out all day? Would they get along with my cat? Why do they sell oyster shells, and if the chickens like scratch so much, why can’t I just feed them that and make them happy?

Then, never having tasted fresh eggs, I was alarmed at the slightest inconsistency in them – differing shapes, yolk colors, occasional spots in them. I had no idea what was normal, and all of my city friends were chuckling about my new adventure and were no help at all!

This is where I wish I’d had a partner to get me started in my chicken adventures. Gail Damerow‘s new book The Chicken Encyclopedia is just that kind of guide. While I’d generally think of an encyclopedia as a reference book, the life-like color illustrations in this book kept me rapt, turning pages and learning all of the mysteries of chicken-keeping that I wish I’d known years ago.

Did you know you can keep a chicken as an indoor pet? And that you can hypnotize your ladies with a simple series of steps (Damerow shares a whopping seven methods)? There are tips on egg storage (important when you have an abundance of them) and a chart on the things that influence yolk color (blueberry pancakes, of course, are the chief culprit of a greenish scrambled egg).

Then, there are the things you might have wished you’d known before you selected your breeds and brought them home. There’s a chart on page 91 which shares the approximate output of droppings for different weight classes of chicken. Had I realized that bantams only create 30 pounds of fresh droppings per year, while my golden sexlinks produce 120 pounds, I would have given much more careful consideration to a nice flock of banties!

Whether you’re experienced with keeping hens or just now starting to consider keeping your own backyard flock, The Chicken Encyclopedia’s a great way of learning the odd tips and tricks that you could otherwise learn only from many conversations with more experienced keepers of hens.

Want to read it yourself? Storey has offered up a copy of the book to one lucky reader! Leave a comment for your chance to win. I’ll pick a winner at random on Tuesday the 27th. US only. Congrats to our winner, Janetta! 

To read more reviews, visit the rest of the people participating in the blog launch party for this book:

3/2 For the Love of Chickens

3/3 Vintage Garden Gal

3/4 The Garden Roof Coop

3/5 Common Weeder

3/6 Chickens in the Road

3/7 Garden Rant

3/8 Fresh Eggs Daily

3/9 My Pet Chicken Blog

3/10 Coop Thoughts

3/11 BoHo Farm and Home

3/12 Happy Chickens Lay Healthy Eggs

3/13 A Charlotte Garden

3/14 Farm Fresh Fun

3/15 The HenCam

3/16 Life on a Southern Farm

3/17 ADozenGirlz, the Chicken Chick™


  1. Merrilee says

    Keeping chickens is always an adventure! I’ve had mine for about 10 years, and I love learning about the different breed personalities. Thanks for the giveaway opp!

  2. Debbie Schauer says

    What a great book! I sure wish that I had had this too when I selected my gals! However, I am always interested in learning more about the wonderful world of chickens.

  3. Doc says

    I’d love to win the Chicken Encyclopedia. I have an indoor pet chicken. He is a delight! That is an interesting statistic you shared on the amount of annual Bantam droppings to Sexlink droppings. I love my little Silver-Laced Sebright Bantie!

  4. says

    My chickens would definitely like me to read this book. They are making me comment, even though I’m confused. Chickens know what they want, even if I don’t.

  5. says

    I thought I did a lot of homework before getting chickens two years ago but I’m still learning new things all the time. They are interesting and fun–sometimes I just watch them in their little world and wonder what they’re saying to each other.

  6. Curt Siters says

    As I will be starting my own flock in the next couple of years this book seems like it is a wealth of information for the newbie.

  7. says

    I would enjoy a chance in the book giveaway. I would really like to learn about raising and keeping chickens before we actually get any. We are looking to create a small homestead in about a year and blog about it so it may benefit others who wish to get into being more sustainable and live a simple life.

  8. Lynn says

    I’d like to win the Chicken Encyclopedia. I’m glad to learn about this Blog. I have been through Humoldt County. It is a beautiful area!

  9. Janetta Dobler says

    I would love to win a copy of this book to give it to my friend who has been so helpful to me with my chickens!!! (I’ve ordered a copy for myself!)

  10. Shelly Wade says

    I would love a chance at winning this book. I was a former city girl that moved to the country & had no experience with chickens. I was so surprised how smart they are!!! Also a big surprise is their different personalities. Who knew chickens even had them?!?! They’ve stolen my heart & I’m so in love with them now! I can’t imagine my life without them!

  11. Elizabeth says

    I would love a copy of this book. I’ve had my girls for a year and I’m always learning something new.

  12. says

    I thought I knew my way around a chicken but I’ve learned a lot since this blog tour started. Plus I got to meet so many like-minded people! I’ve added your blog to my Reader.

  13. Becky Feryance says

    I would love a chance to win this book – I can’t seem to get enough of chicken literature lately, my birds arrive in a few short weeks and I need to be ready!

  14. says

    I am trying real hard to win a copy, my fingers are cross, I keep my rabbit foot in my pocket, I have a 4 leaf clover and I keep adding my name to all these blogs for a chance. Thank you for participating in the blog. I have enjoyed them all.

  15. jackie helton says

    I grew up in Humboldt county and we always had chickens. I loved my chickens, but then life took me away on many adventures that didn’t include chickens. Now i find myself settled down on Maui and ready for that flock of hens. Gail Damerow’s Chicken Encyclpedia would be awesome. Thanks for the chance!

  16. katy says

    This would be a great addition to our growing flock. The eldest is allergic to so many animals that we have taken over the grandparents hens!

  17. says

    Thanks so much for joining in! I’ve had so much fun checking out all the blogs on the tour. I can totally relate to your story about being a city girl in love with cows…and am looking to start a chicken flock for much the same reasons!

  18. Kelly O'Keefe says

    Thanks for the contest! Our nine hens have turned out to be much easier to care for than I had anticipated. I highly recommend jumping in and getting a little flock.

  19. Terry says

    Anyone with chickens has questions. I’d love this book to help answer some of them for me. Like. “Why isn’t my new girl laying” ? She’s over 8 months old and nary an egg. Nor does she crow!

  20. Sally says

    There are chickens all over New Orleans. My neighbor and I are almost ready to get some. Thanks for the contest and a chance to get the correct information before we make some mistakes.

  21. Terry says

    I have three chickens for the first time in many years, and I feel like I could really benefit from such a book.

  22. NolaGirl says

    Yeah!! A whole encyclopedia on chickens. Chickens are the new dogs! I really hope I win this book. Besides, they’re beautiful animals to look at.

  23. Hester says

    We’ve had our 4 girls for almost a year this July. I love chickens and learning about them has become a new and entertaining pastime. I live in town and have a backyard flock. I love to share all I am learning with my city-folk friends. This book looks like a gem for a girl like me. Thank you for the opportunity to win a copy:)

  24. Edward says

    I have had chickens since hatching my first batch back in 1977. They never let me down….Winning your book would be great!

  25. Christine O. says

    I have been wanting to get some chickens for such a long time and I think that this is the year for some Barred Rocks and Americaunas. Though, if they poop that much perhaps bantams are the way to go! This book sounds like a good starting and reference point. :-)

  26. Kathy M. says

    I’d LOVE to win this book! We’re getting ready to make the big move from suburban life to the old family farm & I need every book I can get my hands on to help me get started! Chickens are one of our priorities after the move, so the more I can learn, the better.

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