The Small-Scale Poultry Flock, Revised Edition

An All-Natural Approach to Raising and Breeding Chickens and Other Fowl for Home and Market Growers

Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing

The most comprehensive book on how to raise and breed your own poultry flock is now fully updated and expanded

“The ultimate book for those who want to know everything there is to know about raising poultry.”—Gene Logsdon, author of Letter to a Young Farmer

“There’s no better introductory reference on the joy of home-raising chickens.”—Booklist 

The first edition of The Small-Scale Poultry Flock helped thousands of small-scale farmers and homesteaders successfully adopt a practical and integrative model for working with chickens and other domestic fowl based on natural systems. In this expanded and thoroughly revised edition, readers will find plenty of all-new material. Author Harvey Ussery introduces readers to his new favorite breed of chicken, Icelandics; describes how he manages his breeding flock using a clan mating system; presents detailed information on the use of trapnests and record-keeping spreadsheets for evaluating breeding hen performance; and provides step-by-step instructions for construction of an ingeniously designed mobile poultry shelter.

Readers will also find fully updated information and tips on all aspects of flock management, including:

  • Growing (and sourcing) feed on a small scale
  • Cultivating earthworms and grubs as high-protein poultry feed
  • Brooding (and breeding) at home
  • Implementing manure management
  • Using electric net fencing for ranging flocks
  • Using poultry as insect and weed managers in the garden and orchard
  • Enlisting your chickens as garden tillers and compost-makers
  • Protecting the flock from predators
  • Keeping the flock healthy
  • Working with mother hens


Ussery presents a sustainable and ecologically friendly model that can be adapted for use at a variety of scales. His advice and examples throughout the book will prove invaluable for beginner homesteaders, growers looking to incorporate poultry into their farm, or experienced flocksters seeking to close their loop.

Reviews and Praise

  • “Ussery provides an encyclopedia of chicken and other fowl care, encompassing everything from anatomy and species selection to feeding, breeding, and selling in the local market. . . . Altogether, there’s no better introductory reference on the joy of home-raising chickens.”


More Reviews and Praise

  • “Written by a self-described ‘old hick with chickenshit on his boots,’ The Small-Scale Poultry Flock is a welcoming and decisive guide to the poultry-keeping experience. Harvey Ussery’s natural approach is that of a partnership with his flock, in what he terms ‘an integrated food independence enterprise.’ The author shares straightforward, encouraging information written from the viewpoint of someone who desires to share the knowledge that has come out of three decades of hard-won experience. Anyone considering a natural approach to producing eggs and meat will cherish this must-have reference, enjoyable to sit down and read cover-to-cover, but also perfect for answers on the go.”

    Foreword Review

  • “As usual, Harvey never ceases to amaze with his in-depth knowledge of poultry keeping. I love that, as knowledgeable as he is, he still constantly searches for new ‘tweaks’ to improve his farm efforts and the quality of life for his birds. He writes from that direct experience and it certainly shows in this wonderful go-to book for any aspiring poultry keeper. So many people claim to be chicken husbandry experts, but Harvey, he’s the real deal.”

    —Jeannette Beranger, senior program manager, The Livestock Conservancy

  • “Harvey Ussery has spent a lifetime developing and showcasing a truly viable poultry model that is ultimately carbon-sequestering, hygienic, neighbor-friendly, and food-secure. . . . This book is about a call to heritage, to the wisest of wise traditions in food security and relationships. Harvey brings the latest tools and practices within the grasp of any aspiring flockster. It is this functional spirit that makes this book a classic in the small-scale poultry rearing genre.”

    —Joel Salatin, Polyface, Inc.

  • “Amid the new and urgent focus on holistic, inputs-free food production married to ecologically robust land management, this expanded edition of Harvey Ussery’s classic guide to all things chicken should have a place on every small farm or homestead bookshelf. Dedicated to the conviction that what is best for the animal and the land will always be best for the farmer, Ussery points the novice ‘flockster’ toward best practice, while he inspires the long-time poultry keeper with a deeper commitment to ecological cooperation.”

    —Shawn and Beth Dougherty, authors of The Independent Farmstead

  • “Here’s the ultimate book for those who want to know everything there is to know about raising poultry. And every detail is backed up by the author’s own (often entertaining) experiences. I could not find—in this encyclopedic array of chicken knowhow—one detail that I could quibble with.”

    —Gene Logsdon, author of Letter to a Young Farmer and Holy Shit

  • The Small-Scale Poultry Flock is the perfect book for all chicken keepers, from the folks just starting out to the most experienced. It covers everything from the history of the species and coop designs to feeding, breeding, keeping predators at bay, processing meat, and much more.  Harvey’s writing style is easy going and feels like an old friend giving you sound advice. This  is a comprehensive resource to keep on your bookshelf for many years to come.”

    —Jessi Bloom, author of Free-Range Chicken Gardens; coauthor of Practical Permaculture

  • “It is refreshing and inspiring to read a book on chickens that has original content and creative techniques. This can only come from personal insights and hands-on experience. Harvey Ussery eloquently describes how to keep and employ a family flock of chickens. 

    “Chickens have migrated with humans for over 3,000 years all over the planet. It’s time to bring them back home. Let them work in our communities and production gardens where they can feed not only themselves and humans, but also the soul and soil of Nature, enabling an abundant ecology. Food security with a consistent supply chain can be as close as your own backyard. Just read and use the practices described in The Small-Scale Poultry Flock. You will not be disappointed. High fives to Harvey!”

    —Pat Foreman, author of City Chicks; founder, The Gossamer Foundation

  • “This book is packed with practical advice on raising poultry by someone who has not only done it all but has learned from his broad experience and knows how to communicate that wisdom clearly and in a lively, readable style. Harvey Ussery has written one of the most comprehensive guides out there, but what places it above the rest of the crowd is that he shows you how to work with nature rather than against it in ways that will minimize work while ensuring the health and happiness of the flock. Whether you're a beginner or an old-time poultry farmer, you shouldn’t go any further without this excellent manual.”

    —Toby Hemenway, author of Gaia’s Garden and The Permaculture City

  • The Small-Scale Poultry Flock is about establishing a free-range poultry flock fully integrated into a healthy homestead ecosystem. Based upon the author’s decades of hands-on experience with many breeds and species, it covers all the basics about raising poultry, and fills some important gaps not usually covered well enough elsewhere, including chicken behavior, poultry breeding, raising chicks with broody hens, managing free-ranging, dealing with predators, using electric net fencing, feeding poultry with home-grown feeds, and integrating the poultry with soil mineral balance, gardens, lawns and pastures, orchards, worm bins, and soldier fly (larvae) production. If you want to raise chickens and can afford just one book, I recommend this one.”

    —Carol Deppe, author of The Resilient Gardener

  • “Ussery’s outstanding book is certain to withstand the test of time both for its encyclopedic and practical information, and for its acknowledgment that the future of our culture and our food security is in the hands of the small farmer and backyard producer. If you are starting out with your first flock, this is your book. And when you’ve been keeping poultry for 30+ years, this will still be your best book.”

    —Shannon Hayes, author of The Grassfed Gourmet Cookbook and Radical Homemakers

  • “Anyone interested in practical, experienced, insightful information about how to select, breed, care for, manage, feed, protect, process, eat or market small-scale poultry flocks for their own eating pleasure or selling to others—and have FUN—should read this book.”

    —Frederick Kirschenmann, distinguished fellow, Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture; author of Cultivating an Ecological Conscience

  • “There is a revolution going on, and it is the popular return of keeping poultry to provide food for our home tables. Ussery’s The Small-Scale Poultry Flock helps lead the way by integrating the small flock with its natural environment, the homestead, or small farm. Nowhere else will you find such valuable information on putting poultry to work in the garden, producing much of their feed, and producing healthful food for ourselves.”

    —Don Schrider, author of the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy’s Chicken Assessment for Improving Productivity and Storey’s Guide to Raising Turkeys

  •  "The Small-Scale Poultry Flock is an indispensable guide for homesteaders or market growers interested in doing it right. . . .[And] the revised edition packs in even more information than the original.”

    Hobby Farms

About The Author

About Harvey Ussery

Harvey Ussery’s homestead in northern Virginia has been the setting for constant experimentation toward regeneration, sustainability, and harmony with the surrounding ecology. He has shared what he has learned in numerous articles in Backyard Poultry, Mother Earth News, Countryside & Small Stock Journal, and Grit!, the newsletter of American Pastured Poultry Producers Association. Ussery has presented widely at national and local events on poultry and other homesteading topics, and maintains a highly informative website, TheModernHomestead.US. He shares the ongoing adventure with his wife, Ellen.


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Pages:432 pages
Book Art:Full-color photographs and illustrations throughout
Size: 8 x 10 inch
Publisher:Chelsea Green Publishing
US Pub. Date: November 1, 2022
UK Pub. Date: January 26, 2023
Paperback: 9781645021018

Available In/Retail Price

Paperback, 432 pages, $39.95USD, £35.00GBP