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The Small-Scale Poultry Flock: An All-Natural Approach to Raising Chickens and Other Fowl for Home and Market Growers

4.53  ·  Rating details ·  433 ratings  ·  52 reviews
The most comprehensive guide to date on raising all-natural poultry for the small-scale farmer, homesteader, and professional grower. The Small-Scale Poultry Flock offers a practical and integrative model for working with chickens and other domestic fowl, based entirely on natural systems.

Readers will find information on growing (and sourcing) feed on a small scale, broodi
Paperback, 394 pages
Published October 7th 2011 by Chelsea Green Publishing Company
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Average rating 4.53  · 
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Oct 27, 2011 rated it liked it
I actually got my husband to read this, which I call progress. However, he told me that my poultry flock will certainly be small-scale because it will exist only in my head, so clearly there's still some work left for me to do.
Oct 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book. If you could have only one book on raising poultry, this should be your choice. Unlike most (all?) of the other small-scale poultry books that I've come across, this one actually takes into account the ideas of sustainability for the small-scale poultry owner. He discusses pasturing your flock, and how to glean as much of their feed from your own property, to lower your costs, increase their nutrition, and leave you less dependent on feed store grains that have been shipped from ...more
Jan 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
For someone who currently has a (less than one year old) 3 bird flock in her backyard- this book was fantastic. Not only was it humorous (explaining how chicken poo literally is "holy shit" because of the miracles it can work on your garden/yard), but it also taught me a lot of stuff I didn't know and helped me feel more confident in my natural approach to chicken raising (not a lot of meds). It encouraged me to make more of a leap with various foods and grazing on pasture vs the bagged feed we ...more
Aug 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing
The Small-Scale Poultry Flock is the book I've anticipated the most this year, and it lives up to every ounce of my expectations. Harvey Ussery writes from personal experience raising a few dozen chickens (and other poultry), merging them into a permaculture homestead. As a result, his tips are much more relevant to the backyard enthusiast than books by Joel Salatin.

At the same time, Harvey Ussery goes far beyond the basics and challenges us to integrate our chickens with our gardens and to gro
Christine S
Nov 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I've read every small-scale poultry book I could find and this is hands-down the best. It is for the detail-oriented. It even has step-by-step instructions done in color pictures.
Norris Thomlinson
Jul 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I've known of Harvey Ussery and his pioneering homestead flock techniques for years, since he started posting on the RunningOnEmpty2 peak oil listserve. Now he's written the book I wish I'd had when we started keeping chickens 6 years ago: a thorough guide with breadth and depth to all aspects of integrating poultry into a homestead food system, based on decades of experience working out details of permacultural, whole-systems approaches. Most importantly, he's spent at least the past 6 years ex ...more
Feb 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: chickens
Fantastic book. I love the straight-dope style. Harvey Ussery tells what works for him. He calls a spade a spade. The author goes a bit off into hostile homesteader territory occasionally. I found that endearing. Other readers may be put off by that.

I got this from the library, but I'm going to have to buy it.
Oct 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
The best all-around how-to-do-chicken-stuff book out there. Comprehensive and responsible.
Jun 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book is really a terrific introduction to all aspects of owning a flock. That being said, if this had been my first book about chickens, I'd have been terrified! It's a lot to take in--and in fact this book took me several months to work through. (sorry local library-I'm a book hog!)

Some aspects of chicken-raising are gone into in more detail than most pay to their flock. For example, mixing your own feed is something I've very rarely seen people do in real life. But it takes up an entire c
Dec 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is probably the most practical poultry-keeping guide I've found. The copy I'm currently reading is from the library, but I will likely buy a copy of my own. In nearly four years of keeping chickens, I have had times when I've wished for a nitty-gritty, practical resource. I like our chickens, but they're livestock, not pets--which means that books and websites that view hens as pets to be kept and cherished way past their useful laying years, or to be strictly ornamental bug-eaters in a Mar ...more
Aleksandar Janković
Knowing nothing about raising chickens, after having read this book, I now feel very confident with starting up my own flock.

The book teaches you both the WHY and HOW of creating effective poultry systems. So ever though there are plenty of examples and ideas throughout the book, I most value the fact that I have received sufficient knowledge to give it a try with my own experimental systems. By knowing the underlying philosophy, it is easy to create a system applicable to my specific context -
Callie Hornbuckle
Jul 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is an excellent resource for someone wanting to try their hand at homesteading. A little less relevant to me, who will only have a small backyard flock, but it gave me good ideas about using chickens for composting - which might make me brave enough to start that vegetable garden I've always wanted some day. This book is better for ideas, less heavy on technicalities. I'll have to read up elsewhere for nitty-gritty details on feed, breeds, etc.
May 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, gardening
This book is well-written, highly photographed, and packed with details. I put it down part way through only because I'm pretty sure we're not getting chickens, but I wanted to leave a review to remind myself that if we ever decide we're taking the leap to raising poultry, this is absolutely the book I want to have on-hand.
Mar 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
There is no better resource for the homesteader or poultry flock owner who is looking to be more input independent and healthy. I loved reading about the owner's flock. Each chapter gave me something new to explore. Since geese are my first love, though, I wished there was just a bit more on waterfowl.
Christina Leeper
Jul 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: homestead
As a beginner, I was worried about going into backyard chickens unprepared. Mr. Ussery's book, however, is comprehensive and covers every conceivable topic regarding selection of the flock, breeding, egg and meat production, and medical/emergency care, among other things. It's a great read, but an intensive one, for the beginner -- but a valuable investment for the future of my little flock!
Dec 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Bar none the best and most thorough, most practical book on poultry husbandry. Relevant to all scales of personal poultry management (ie, not factory farms). Awesome. Like it says on the back, if you buy just one book about chickens, this is it.
Megan Bullington
Mar 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Everything you need to start raising your own chickens. I borrowed this one from the library but I will most definitely be purchasing it!
Apr 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Such a great resource for a sustainable, small operation of keeping chicks and other birds! I really got a lot of excellent information out if it!
Nov 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A perennial classic I consult every week, if not daily. Imminently readable, re-readable, and a must-have for any flockster's library.
Laura Pallandre
May 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: farming
Got it from the library, going to buy it to keep as a reference.
William Chad
Jan 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Good reference for those working with chickens...
Jenny Morgan
Jul 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
There is so much useful information and tips and tricks in here!!! I liked his style of writing and how it's organized.
Nov 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
There are a lot of "how to raise chicken" books out there. Unfortunately, I only had time to read 1, maybe two, books before the chicks arrive, so it was important that I chose the right one.

This one was perfect for me for a couple reasons:

- I plan on having a small flock (8) like the author. Not a tiny (almost 'pet') flock of 2. Not a commercial enterprise. The scale of the practices in here, like feed quantities and coop sizes, aligned with my flock size.

- The author's values of clean organic
Jun 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I said that the "Free-Range Chicken Gardens" book would be all I need to read to learn how to raise chickens, but this book was the perfect 2nd book & gave me several additional ideas.

Although it focused mostly on a larger flock than I will be able to keep & a larger, rural area in which to keep them, I found much of the information very helpful & am looking for ways to apply the same ideas on a smaller scale in my backyard.

I was most interested in information on feeding. I am hoping to find wa
Charles Haywood
Jun 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This may be the best “how to” book I have ever read, at least for manual work. Yes, I haven’t even started raising chickens (yet), so my base of knowledge for that praise is small. And yes, the book I read before this was the not-good “Keeping Chickens With Ashley English,” so after that, anything would seem good. But for a combination of clarity, useful information, complete coverage, and a coherent but rational philosophy, I don’t think you can beat this book.

Ussery covers every aspect of maki
Johnny Bennett
Apr 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
The Small Scale Poultry Flock by Harvey Ussery is a comprehensive study on raising poultry via a pastured model. Exhaustive may be a better word. By the middle, I was getting worn out. Though the back half did pick up a bit and was more interesting.
This isn’t your introduction to keeping a flock, though one could use it as such. This has detailed information on all sorts of domestic fowl. Step by step directions in the appendix for building coops and dusting boxes, butchering instructions, and d
Feb 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
If you want to keep poultry and need to build a conceptual and practical understanding, go straight to the best and skip the rest. This book stands head and shoulders above the many popular but shallow "how to" books, and is much more readable and useable than the academic tomes. Respect for the animals as fellow creatures sharing the planet sets the tone. The author explains the principles of permaculture and integrated pest management without ever using those words. He has a well-articulated b ...more
Apr 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is the best book I've found for those who want to raise poultry as an integrated part of their homestead or farm. Ussery treats the birds and the subject with great respect, but without a 'pet' mentality either. His focus is on the practical functions that poultry (primarily chickens) have, going beyond just 'backyard eggs' to consider pest control, compost making (a new one for me) and of course meat for the table. He champions deep litter, and helping a flock stay healthy rather than tryi ...more
Angela England
Apr 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: backyard-farming
One of the best how-to-raise chicken books out there, his methods and suggestions won't cost you a fortune to implement. They also won't result in a struggle against nature by artificially separating elements that were designed to work in tandem together.

I've read a lot of chicken books. A lot. This is the best one out there by far. After reading this book you will understand the important role that pasture-raised poultry plays in providing truly healthy meat for our families in way that isn't
Heidi Thorsen
Mar 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: instructional
I checked this out of the library, but I liked it so much I'm going to buy a copy for myself. It covers everything about raising chickens in a natural and environmentally sustainable way. I like that the author presents several different options for coops and open space, and includes photos. There is quite a variety of successful strategies, that was encouraging. He suggests different ways to deter different predators, and I plan to incorporate many of them into my own coop design since I have a ...more
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