The Best Books on Raising Urban Chickens

Thinking of going a little greener and keeping a couple chickens in your own backyard for their delicious eggs, their weed- and bug-eating prowess and their rich fertilizer-making skills? Here's the list of books that'll get you headed in the right direction.


Keep Chickens! Tending Small Flocks in Cities, Suburbs, and Other Small Spaces

by Barbara Kilarski

Like home-grown vegetables, home-raised chickens put us in touch with our rural past, give us a sense of self-sufficiency, and provide food — eggs! — for the table that's a lot tastier than anything we could find at the supermarket. And chickens are fun! Like dogs, they bond with their owners, and like kids, they do the darnedest things. Kilarski regales the reader with tales spotlighting the joys of raising chickens, while at the same time explaining the nitty-gritty details of how to be a successful chicken keeper.


Chickens In Your Backyard: A Beginner's Guide

by Gail Luttmann, Rick Luttmann

As they learned to raise chickens, Gail and Rick Luttmann came to realize the need for a comprehensive but clear and nontechnical guide. Their book covers all the basics in a light and entertaining sytle, from housing and feeding through incubating, bringing up chicks, butchering, and raising chickens for show.


Success With Baby Chicks: A Complete Guide to Hatchery Selection, Mail-Order Chicks, Day-Old Chick Care, Brooding, Brooder Plans, Feeding, and Housing

by Robert Plamondon

Like Storey's Guide, this isn't explicitly about backyard chickens, but you'll get all the information you need to understand how to choose, order and raise chicks (if you choose to go this route).


Chicken Coops: 45 Building Plans for Housing Your Flock

by Judy Pangman

The title's a bit misleading, but it's still chock full of ideas for coops for your chooks. Use this book as inspiration for building your own coop, not for plans with a step-by-step guide to building the coop.


Hen and the Art of Chicken Maintenance: Reflections on Raising Chickens

by Martin Gurdon

This is a memoir of growing up with chickens and then raising a backyard flock as an adult. While there's some good info packed into the stories, it's less on the side of reference tome and more on the side of a story well told. (All apologies to Robert Pirsig.)


Living with Chickens: Everything You Need to Know to Raise Your Own Backyard Flock

by American Poultry Association, Jay Rossier, photography by Geoff Hansen reader Steven Walling says:
"Wonderful style, up to date and practical advice on all aspects of small flocks. Definitely my favorite introductory book on chickens. Plus, beautiful photos, a great list of further reading, and a forward from the American Poultry Association."


How To Raise Chickens: Everything You Need To Know

by Christine Heinrichs reader Steven Walling says:
"A solid book, especially for people who might be interested in breeding. Unlike Rossier's book, it's got a lot of interesting history and breed info, but it also covers the basics well. This is the best alternative to the Storey's book on your list, since it works for larger flocks without leaving backyarders in the dust."


Choosing and Keeping Chickens

by Chris Graham reader Steven Walling says:
"British, but still a delightful introductory book for backyard keepers."


Storey's Guide to Raising Chickens: Care / Feeding / Facilities

by Gail Damerow

Not explicitly about backyard chickens, but the knowledge easily transfers from the larger-scale operation to your small flock via in-depth expert advice on selecting breeds, caring for chicks, producing eggs, raising broilers, feeding, troubleshooting, and much more.