Chickens in Five Minutes a Day

Chickens in Five Minutes a DayI’ve been enjoying getting chicken books out of the library and giving them a test run lately, and my most recent checkout was Chickens in Five Minutes a Day
by the Murray McMurray Hatchery.  I wasn’t sure what to expect
from a book written by a hatchery, but I was pleasantly surprised. 
This is another visual-heavy and word-lean book that you can read in an
hour or two, but it covers the basics better than some books in that
category.  Sure, you won’t learn anything remotely alternative
(although chicken tractors are briefly mentioned), but the book does
have a list of big cities that do and don’t allow chickens.  (Did
you know that you can’t raise chickens in Houston unless you have a note
from your doctor attesting to your need for fresh eggs?)

Since hatcheries
specialize in breeds of chickens, I was interested to see Murray
McMurray’s top recommendations.  Helpfully, the book broke their
favorite breeds down by purpose, as follows:

  • Productive white-egg layers: Pearl-White Leghorns, followed by Silver Spangled Hamburgs, Single Comb Brown Leghorns, and Blue Andalusians
  • Productive brown-egg layers: Red Stars and Black Stars, followed by Rhode Island Reds, Buff Orpingtons, and Barred Rocks
  • Multi-colored-egg layers: Araucana/Americana
    hybrids.  (Did you know that each individual hen only lays one
    color egg, so if you want lots of hues, you’ll want lots of hens?)
  • Exotic-looking birds:
    Bantams in general, but specifically White Silkies, Blue Silkies,
    Frizzle Cochins, Belgian Bearded d’Uccle Mille Fleurs, and Quail Antwerp
    Belgians.  (Did you know that you usually can’t order bantams
    sexed because the chicks are just too small?)
  • Pets: Cochins and Orpingtons.

What’s my biggest
disappointment from this book?  I wanted to hear more about the
hatchery!  They’re one of the oldest and biggest hatcheries around
that cater to the non-industrial chicken-keeper, and I’d love to hear
their take on which varieties have waxed and waned in popularity over
the last century, and also more about how their operation runs.  I
did learn that backyard chickens are nearly ubiquitous in the1930s and
1940s, but popularity dropped off drastically in the 1950s and 1960s,
which makes sense given a similar trend with gardening.  Maybe
Murray McMurray Hatchery will make my day and come out with another book
soon to fill in those gaps?

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  1. December 7, 2013

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