Book Review: “The Small-Scale Poultry Flock, Revised Edition”

The revised edition of Harvey Ussery’s “The Small-Scale Poultry Flock” is an expanded guide to all-natural chicken-keeping for a variety of purposes.

by Robin Hackett
PHOTO: courtesy of Chelsea Green Publishing
  • Title: The Small-Scale Poultry Flock, Revised Edition: An All-Natural Approach to Raising and Breeding Chickens and Other Fowl for Home and Market Growers 
  • Author: Harvey Ussery
  • Cover Price: $39.95
  • Publication Date: November 1, 2022
  • Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing

Raising chickens without having a copy of Harvey Ussery’s The Small-Scale Poultry Flock to guide you throughout the process is like setting out on a road trip without a map (or a phone). You may still get there eventually, but with a lot of extra headaches along the way.

It’s been several years since I managed a farm with a sizable poultry enterprise. But when I did, The Small-Scale Poultry Flock was my go-to resource. 

The revised edition packs in even more information than the original, with revisions sprinkled throughout and new sections on topics like clan mating and Icelandics (one of my favorite breeds). 

Read more: Check out this collection of rare & heritage breed chickens!

A Diverse Audience

As its name would suggest, The Small-Scale Poultry Flock is geared towards readers with … well, small-scale flocks. Although this category might include a large number of homesteaders, there are plenty of commercial operations with small-scale flocks as well. 

Again, I personally consulted the book frequently while working with commercial-scale flocks of Black Australorps (as layers) and Buckeyes (as broilers). Numerous sections throughout the book—like those on health, nutrition, etc.—apply to all chickens, regardless of how many you have. 

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Still, many parts of the book are geared towards smaller-scale flocks, either at a commercial or homestead scale. This is not, however, a guide book for someone aspiring to run an industrial poultry house.

Read more: The Black Australorp is a chicken-keeper’s favorite.

A Comprehensive Guide

I personally have only encountered a few questions about chickens that The Small-Scale Poultry Flock couldn’t answer. Ussery covers everything from housing (including mobile shelters) to feeding, breeding and butchering in substantial detail. He also discusses various creative ways to integrate your flock into your larger homestead or farm. 

As Ussery emphasizes throughout the book, a poultry flock can be an invaluable part of a farm’s ecology.

As someone who’s long fantasized about making the feed for my own chickens, I was especially impressed by Ussery’s chapter on the topic. He goes into substantial detail on various aspects of making feed, covering everything from ingredient options to storage, mixing and equipment.

Grounded in Experience

One of the things that makes The Small-Scale Poultry Flock unique is Ussery’s deep personal experience with the topics he discusses. Much (if not most) of what Ussery describes throughout the book is based on his decades of experience as a flockster. His deep passion for poultry comes through throughout the book.  

Overall, The Small-Scale Poultry Flock is an indispensable guide for homesteaders or market growers interested in doing it right. I personally have returned to the book again and again for both troubleshooting and inspiration, and have no doubt that I’ll do so with the revised edition as well. 

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