Considering Backyard Chickens? Chick This Out!

Have you ever thought of getting fresh eggs from your own backyard chickens? Have you ever considered hatching baby chicks? Keeping chickens is starting to become more popular here in the Garden State. If you are considering getting backyard chickens or are interested in introducing your children to the wonder of seeing a baby chick hatch, then the library is the perfect place to get more information!

Recently, the Hickory Corner Branch incubated eggs and it was a wonderful experience. Children and adults alike were in awe of the miracle of life! Incubating eggs is a great project for libraries and schools, but it is also something that families can do at home. Of course you cannot just reach into your fridge and incubate those eggs, so how do you go about finding fertilized eggs? At the Hickory Corner Branch, we worked with a local affiliate of Rent-A-Coop. They provided the eggs, incubator, and other accessories. There are other companies that provide similar services or you could even ask a local farmer if they sell fertilized eggs and then rent or buy an incubator.
Eggs
The Incubator
Once the incubator is plugged in, the gestation period begins. The incubator keeps the eggs at the correct temperature and turns them every 45 minutes. All we had to do was add water to the center portion of the incubator every few days to maintain humidity. During the three weeks while we waited for our eggs to hatch, we were even able to get a peek at the developing chicks by using a special light!
Peeking at the developing chicks
We also learned about eggs and the lifecycle of chickens and other oviparous animals. The library has an abundance of books on the subject of chicks and chickens so we were able to keep ourselves quite busy while we waited for the chicks to hatch.
Chicken Books
The Life Cycle of a Chicken by Colleen Sexton

Life Cycle of a Chicken by Angela Royston

How an Egg Grows Into a Chicken by Tanya Kant

The Life Cycle of a Chicken by Ruth Thomson

From Egg to Chicken by Anita Ganeri

Chickens by Sharon Dalgleish

The Hen Can’t Help It: A First Look at the Life Cycle of a Chicken by Sam Godwin

Chickens: Hens, Roosters, and Chicks by Lorijo Metz

Chickens Aren’t the Only Ones by Ruth Heller

Animals on the Farm: Chickens by Megan Kopp

Chickens by Julie Murray

Chicken by Katie Dicker

Chickens (Down on the Farm series) by Hannah Ray

After much anticipation and 21 days of gestation, our chicks hatched! The breed of chicks that we hatched are called Golden Comets. They are one of the few breeds that you can tell the males from the females at birth. The male roosters are a lighter color than the golden colored female hens. This enabled us to name our chicks right away.
Meet Early Bird (aka Earl), Hope, and Hickory!
Meet Early Bird (aka Earl), Hope, and Hickory!
Did you know that chicks absorb the yolk prior to hatching and that is what makes their downy feathers yellow? That is one of the fun facts we learned, and the learning did not stop once our chicks hatched. We continued to learn more about chickens and the benefits of keeping chickens. Of course we could not keep chickens at the library, so after a week the chicks returned to the farm. Once they are a bit older, they will be able to join Rent-A-Coop’s backyard chicken program through which people rent or buy hens for egg laying.

Golden Comets make wonderful backyard chickens because they have great personalities and enjoy being around people. They come when called, let you pick them up, and will even let you rock them to sleep! They also like to follow humans around and help with gardening. They are natural composters because they eat leftover table scraps and turn them into delicious and nutritious eggs. They are great for pest control as hens actively seek out spiders, bees, beetles, stink bugs, and even ticks! If you are interested in raising backyard chickens, first contact your local zoning board, and then be sure to check out some of the helpful books that the library has to offer on the subject.
More Chicken Books
Keep Chickens! Tending Small Flocks in Cities, Suburbs, and Other Small Spaces by Barbara Kilarski

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

Your Farm in the City: An Urban Dweller’s Guide to Growing Food and Raining Livestock by Lisa Taylor

Starter Coops: For Your Chickens’ First Home by Wendy Bedell-Wilson

Keeping Chickens with Ashley English: All You Need To Know to Care for a Happy, Healthy Flock by Ashley English

Free-Range Chicken Gardens: How to Create a Beautiful, Chicken-Friendly Yard by Jessi Bloom

-Chrissy H.

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