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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 ·  473 ratings  ·  62 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. ...more
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
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. ...more
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
Nov 06, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Just about everything you need to know about raising healthy and happy flocks of chickens, ducks, turkeys, geese and guinea fowl is here in this book. The art of raising poultry on a small scale is so different from the industrial process as to be on another planet (except that unfortunately, it isn’t). As with most agriculture, most people’s perception of all things chicken is based on the output of industrial farming, cheap restaurants and big box grocery stores. This makes for truly excellent ...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
Jennifer Pletcher
May 25, 2022 rated it really liked it
This book is a comprehensive look at having a small flock of chickens at your home. Harvey has a large flock, but does talk about what you need to get started from the brooder to moving them outside. He covers birds that you keep as a source of food (both egg and meat) as well as incorporating a few other farm animals. His indepth coverage talks about ways to incorporate a flock into all of your backyard activities - including gardening and composting.

This was a great book. I have read another
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
Jan 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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 -
Jacqueline M.
Jul 07, 2022 rated it it was amazing
Excellent reference. Reading can be dull at times because it's SO much information. This is more of a textbook than leisure. I got this copy from the library but will definitely be adding this to my reference library at some point in the future. I do wish he included more information on quail. This edition includes only 2 pages that includes discussion of doves and pheasant. Hardly comprehensive for someone like me looking to keep quail (though much of the chicken information is helpful for any ...more
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. ...more
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. ...more
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. ...more
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! ...more
Tim Webster
Jul 16, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent investment

Great explanation of what it is to raise poultry. Whether the poultry will be a pet or food for your table, or servicing a niche clientele, this treatise covers it all in detail. Well worth the investment of the books cost and also the investment of time to read and study. It clarified where I wanted to go with my future 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. ...more
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. ...more
Dec 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is the most comprehensive guide to raising chickens that anyone could ever ask for. I will be referencing this book regularly for as long as I raise poultry, and I will try to implement as many of his management practices as possible
May 09, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This has to be the BEST book on EVERYTHING you could want to know about keeping chickens. I know I will reach for this many more times in the life of our flock!
Will G
Nov 12, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Jan 01, 2022 rated it it was amazing
Lots of great information here.
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