Book Review: “The Small-Scale Poultry Flock”

Review Poultry Flock
“The Small-Scale Poultry Flock, Revised Edition:
An All-Natural Approach to Raising and Breeding Chickens and Other Fowl for Home and Market Growers”
By Harvey Ussery
Chelsea Green Publishing, 2022
432 pages, paperback, $39.95

The first edition of “The Small-Scale Poultry Flock”by Harvey Ussery was published in 2011. Now, Ussery is back with a revised book, which is almost hard to believe considering the completeness of the first. But this new edition is full of even more essential information on flock management, all told in Ussery’s charming narrative writing style.

With the new edition of “The Small-Scale Poultry Flock,” Ussery has gifted us again with his no-nonsense approach to flock care. The updates to the 2022 edition include a chapter on Icelandic chickens, which Ussery praises as the “do it all” breed of chickens, as well as plans for the ultimate mobile poultry shelter, electric netting for pasture management with poultry, and cultivating your own poultry feed. Ussery’s wise old farmer tone set the stage for a practical poultry book that leaves no issue untouched.

Unlike other books that focus exclusively on chickens or ducks, Ussery’s book is an all-flock guide and features information on integrating and keeping a mixed flock. When Ussery does focus on chickens, he’s careful to specify that is the case.

The methods of poultry keeping in the book, from feed and housing to healthcare and pasture management, all center around sustainability, and you’ll be happy to find a book that helps you farm in a more ecologically sound manner. Ussery also provides useful charts at the back of the book for layer performance and a duck confit recipe contributed by his wife, Ellen Ussery.

But what really sets “The Small-Scale Poultry Flock” apart is Ussery’s pleasant, conversational voice and his many anecdotes. This is the book equivalent of sitting down with an old farmer at his kitchen table and having him entertain you with the stories of his decades of poultry experience. When describing poultry-house door options, Ussery takes us back to a visit with his father where they came up with a falling door design; and when talking about mother hens, he introduces us to an old neighbor who used to run a neighborhood hatching service. Every page has a tale to keep the reader engaged while learning the tricks, tips and care methods Ussery has perfected from years of poultry keeping.

Ussery generously shares a lifetime of knowledge, and a clear warmth towards his subject, the domesticated farm bird, radiates through the book. At the end of the day, Ussery’s mission is for the flock and its environment to flourish, and he sets the stage for you to keep a happy henhouse. “The Small Scale Poultry Flock”is a one-stop source for all information on flock management, and on top of that it provides an entertaining and rich read.

Kirsten Lie-Nielsen, Liberty, Maine

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