The Small-Scale Poultry Flock: An All-Natural Approach to Raising Chickens and Other Fowl for Home and Market Growers
by Harvey Ussery
(Chelsea Green Publishing, 2011)
I’ve mentioned this book several times on folia, so I thought I would post about it here. It’s not a gardening book per se but it does cover how to integrate keeping poultry with a small homestead.
I have several books on keeping chickens, and so far, this one is my favourite. Ussery’s book goes beyond the basics and is not simply a scaled down version of industrial poultry production. The publisher states that Ussery “offers a comprehensive and practical whole-systems, integrative approach to animal husbandry, including growing your own feed, brooding at home, and poultry as weed managers in the garden” and I certainly agree that it delivers.
I have found Ussery’s book to be a great source for ideas for producing some of my own feed, using the flock to create new garden areas, and the plan for a mobile pasture shelter was worth the purchase price of the book. I have (had?) very little building experience and I found the instructions easy to follow and the supply/cutting list complete and accurate.
He also has a section on working with broody hens and describes in detail various breeding programs. While I’m not yet at a point where I can apply the breeding information, I think it will come in handy should I decide to expand the flock in the future. He also has plans for a “trap nest” which he uses to track egg production (of course you have to be able to identify your birds and check the nests very regularly for a few days to use that technique.)
The one area I wish he offered more detail on would be determining which components to buy to set up an electronet enclosure. I wound up returning to the store/stores several times and having to phone the charger manufacturer to make sure that I got everything I needed and knew how to set it up correctly. Ussery’s description of how to move & store the electronet is great, but some more technical details about sizing the charger and other component (like the wire to ground the system, how to lead the cable out to the charger, etc.) would have been helpful.
I have a few other books published by Chelsea Green (Gaia’s Garden comes to mind), and they seem to be a bit higher priced but offer more a more in depth look at the topic. Ussery’s book is a great resource for anyone who keeps poultry and is particularly useful for those of us who want to go beyond three or four hens in the backyard, but not quite up to the scale of a commercial pastured poultry operation.
I have this book and agree wholeheartedly with your review. It is a great resource and I highly recommend it.
As to the electronet fencing – my research/feedback when I was looking at it lead me to purchase from Premier. They have a wealth of info on fencing on their website (how to videos, FAQ sheets, etc) that are animal specific. They also put out several publications like “Poultry Solutions” and “Fences That Work”, that although they are essentially catalogs selling their equipment (and free), they provide a lot of practical advice in a useable format. Their customer service is excellent as well, so you could probably just call or email them with your situation and they would lead you in the right direction.
Thanks for posting this review and good luck with the fencing!