Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Book Review: The Small-Scale Poultry Flock

 

This is hands-down the best book on raising chickens (and other poultry) that I have read... and I have read a lot.  For a long time, I have been trying to establish systems of raising chickens on permaculture principles - all theoretical of course, since I have yet had the chance to raise my own chickens, but I hope to remedy this within a year.

As is typically the case, whenever I come up with a brilliant concept, I end up finding a person who has not only come up with the brilliant concept, but has been doing if for years, and they have perfected it.  This is what Harvey Ussery has done.  He has once again reinforced my thoughts that I am on the right track with "all this permaculture stuff" (as everyone always tells me).  But he has also saved me a whole lot of time; I don't have to reinvent the wheel.

While not using the word "permaculture" very much, this book is all about modeling the natural biological systems of chickens to produce healthy eggs and meat in a stress-free environment.  Using the principles outlined in this book, we can almost eliminate all harmful chemicals, unnatural activities, and poor health from our home poultry flock.  These principles can and have been expanded to large, commercial-sized flocks as well.

I cannot recommend this book enough.  If you plan on having chickens or waterfowl at your home, homestead, or farm, then I feel that this book is a must have.

For an even stronger endorsement, Joel Salatin wrote the foreword!

From the publisher:

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, brooding (and breeding) at home, and using poultry as insect and weed managers in the garden and orchard. Ussery's model presents an entirely sustainable system that can be adapted and utilized in a variety of scales, and will prove invaluable for beginner homesteaders, growers looking to incorporate poultry into their farm, or poultry farmers seeking to close their loop. Ussery offers extensive information on:

  • The definition of an integrated poultry flock (imitation of natural systems, integrating patterns, and closing the circle)
  • Everything you need to know about your basic chicken (including distinctive points about anatomy and behavior that are critical to management)
  • Extended information on poultry health and holistic health care, with a focus on prevention
  • Planning your flock (flock size, choosing breeds, fowl useful for egg vs. meat production, sourcing stock)
  • How to breed and brood the flock (including breeding for genetic conservation), including the most complete guide to working with broody hens available anywhere
  • Making and mixing your own feed (with tips on equipment, storage, basic ingredients, technique, grinding and mixing)
  • Providing more of the flock's feed from sources grown or self-foraged on the homestead or farm, including production of live protein feeds using earthworms and soldier grubs
  • Using poultry to increase soil fertility, control crop damaging insects, and to make compost-including systems for pasturing and for tillage of cover crops and weeds
  • Recipes for great egg and poultry dishes (including Ussery's famous chicken stock!)
  • And one of the best step-by-step poultry butchering guides available, complete with extensive illustrative photos.

No other book on raising poultry takes an entirely whole-systems approach, or discusses producing homegrown feed and breeding in such detail. This is a truly invaluable guide that will lead farmers and homesteaders into a new world of self-reliance and enjoyment.


Here are some great interviews with the author, Harvey Ussery.

Harvey Ussery on Integrated Systems

Harvey Ussery on Natural Feeds

Harvey Ussery on Nests


12 comments:

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