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Incubating book review: Gail Damerow , 'Hatching and Brooding Your Own Chicks'.

Looking for a solid, down to earth, well written, easily understood book about incubating, hatching and brooding chicks?

Gail Damerow, 'Brooding your own chicks' book review - pin for later.

I did not receive a free copy of this book and I was not asked to review it. It's here because I view it as one of the most useful resources for anyone dealing with hatching and brooding.

If you want to buy it, click on any of the pictures or the links to Amazon. I will earn a small commission, at no cost to you, if you click and buy.

You've just found it!

Gail Damerow is a rare person. She's a highly experienced poultry-keeper, a great communicator of complex issues in an easily understandable way, and an excellent writer.

I guarantee - this book will become one of your most prized information sources for incubating and hatching. 

It's certainly mine - and I have them all!

Will you benefit from this incubating book?

You'll love and benefit from this book if:

  • You're thinking you might incubate at some point in the future and want easy to understand instructions.
  • You're new to incubating and hatching and want good, solid, down-to-earth advice.
  • You've incubated and hatched once or twice before and would like to know what you could improve on.
  • You're experienced in hatching your own chicks but would like to increase your depth of knowledge.
  • In other words - this is a book for everyone interested or active in incubating, hatching and brooding chickens in particular, although it also touches on guinea fowl, ducks, turkeys and geese.

What are the main features of this book?

It's one of the most comprehensive books on chicken rearing around - which is why I keep it by my side every time I hatch. 

Here are some of its chapters:

  • Incubators : choosing, setting up and managing
  • Using broody hens to hatch
  • Choosing the right chicken breeds for you
  • Choosing the best eggs
  • How to identify chicks as they hatch
  • Problem hatches
  • Setting up a brooder
  • Food and water needs
  • Chick development and growth
  • Health and development problems and how to deal with them.

There are lots of incubating books around. What makes this one so special?

It's well organised, follows a logical progression, answers questions ordinary chicken-keepers (i.e. you and me) have, has some great illustrations and some lovely pics of chicks. 

It is also extremely thorough in every section. She pays great attention to detail and uses down-to-earth language. Where other authors assume you'll know what they're talking about, she explains..

Most of all, it's down to earth. 

She draws on her own vast experience of raising chicks (which she calls being in "poultry heaven"!) and explains complicated issues in plain language, avoids jargon (she also provides a glossary of terms) and where necessary she uses great illustrations to help explain a point.


What's best about this incubating book?

One of the sections I like best is called "Screwpot Notions" where she looks at some commonly held beliefs and asks whether there is any merit in them. 

Some - whether "an egg's shape determines the gender of the bird that will hatch from it" for example - she treats with humour, but where it would potentially harm chicks or eggs, for example "you don't need to turn the eggs during the incubation period", she provides solid evidence to prove or disprove the point.


Any downsides?

The only slightly negative reviews (3 stars out of five on Amazon) for this book talk about it being 'boring' and not related to incubation.

As for the book being "boring" - whether you're a hardened hatch-a-holic or just starting out I think you'll find it fascinating. 

What I would say is it's a book to be dipped in and out of. I wouldn't sit down and read it all at one go (although judging by the reviews, some people clearly have) but in an odd spare moment with a cup of coffee - or over an incubating table - it's a great read.

And of course, I refer to it all the time when I'm incubating. Like me, you will learn something new every time you open it.

The second comment (that it's not related to incubation) I really don't understand. 

Yes, the book deals with the planning necessary before incubation - choosing the right chicken breed, choosing an incubator, setting up an incubator and so on.

Because they are vital steps in the process. It wouldn't make sense to leave them out.


What do other reviews say?

Of all the reviews on Amazon, none scores lower than three stars (of a maximum of five) and three quarters score four or five. 

People commonly refer to this book as "my oracle" and "my bible". The majority of readers recommend it for everyone from the experienced breeder to the beginner. I support that recommendation.

This is a popular book, loved by beginners and experts alike.


How many Golden Eggs do I give it?

If you've looked at any of my other reviews you'll know that I award "Golden Eggs" for products, from one for a "Hmmm I wouldn't recommend this" to five - "Must-have - don't miss out on this wonderful product".

So - how many Golden Eggs does 'Hatching and Brooding Your Own Chicks' get?  Yes, it's...

A Fabulous Five Golden Eggs!

5 Golden Eggs.

This is based on both my own experience with the book and on reviews of others on book-selling sites.

There's really nothing I don't like about it. 

If you were only going to buy one book about hatching and brooding I would categorically say - buy this one.


If you're interested in this book, these articles about incubation and brooding chicks may also  interest you.

Incubating equipment explained - link.
Preparing fertile eggs for a successful hatch - link.
How to candle chicken eggs - link.
All about caring for new chicks. Link.
Free newsletter. Link.
Link to Raising Happy Chickens home page.