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Poultry resources for small farms

"Profitable Poultry Production" by M. G. Kains, Orange Judd Company, 1910. "Poultry production is commonly practiced on every farm, but profitable poultry production so far as the farm is concerned, is rare indeed. No one, as a rule, has better natural conditions for poultry raising than has the farmer. It is only a matter of embracing opportunities that is wanting." Kains tells you how -- how-to's, plans, studies, and sound common-sense from long before confinement systems. The plans and drawings of coops and housing systems are a treasure in themselves. Kains was Poultry Editor of the American Agriculturist Weeklies, and author of the classic "Five acres and independence: a practical guide to the selection and management of the small farm", published in 1935 and still in print. Full text online at the Small farms library.

"Chickens in Your Backyard: A Beginner's Guide" by Rick and Gail Luttmann, 1976, Rodale, ISBN 0878571256
Perfect for beginners, steers you round all the traps. Presupposes no prior knowledge, step-by-step style, and it's written with wit. This was our first chicken book and we found we could rely on it -- though it's not quite as effective as one reviewer claimed: "It will have you laying eggs in days!" The chickens did, but not us! Buy at Chickens in Your Backyard

"Storey's Guide to Raising Chickens" by Gail Damerow, 1995, Storey Books, ISBN 1-58017-325-X
How to chose the right breed, care for chicks, feed the growing flock, build feeders and shelters, collect and store eggs, prevent health problems, raise broilers for meat. Everything from starting your own backyard flock to putting eggs on the table. Gail Damerow's been raising chickens for 30 years. She's the editor of Rural Heritage magazine and the author of eight books, including Chickens in Your Backyard and Ducks and Geese in Your Backyard. 352 pages, 6 x 9 trim size, photographs and illustrations throughout. Buy at Storey's Guide to Raising Chickens

Free-Range Poultry by Katie Thear, Ref: 1873580592 from Broad Leys Publishing UK, 3rd Edition, Whittet Books 2002, 181 pages -- Widely recognised as the definitive guide to modern free-range management, this book is a practical and comprehensive guide that is up to date with legislation and research findings. Welfare considerations are discussed, with details of Freedom Food and Organic standards. There is advice on the best choice of breeds for specific purposes, including egg production, table bird production, breeding to show standards and general interest poultry keeping. Every aspect of poultry husbandry is covered.Suitable for the commercial free-range flock owner, the home poultry keeper or the breeder and enthusiast. Illustrated in full colour throughout. Buy at Free-Range Poultry

Free-range poultry is a sustainable and profitable system. It was the norm in the US until it was superceded by industrial agriculture and confinement systems in the 1960s. Herman Beck-Chenoweth has updated and modernized the old techniques in his
"Modern American Free-Range System" -- this really is free range, not just a mobile confinement system with grass underneath. Resources and links, along with the Back40Books online book catalog, featuring books on poultry, other livestock, farming, country skills, and much besides.
Free-Range Poultry & Back40Books mailing list:

"Free-Range Poultry Production & Marketing -- The Complete Guide to Raising, Processing and Marketing Premium Quality Chicken, Turkey and Eggs" (revised), by Herman Beck-Chenoweth. The free-range system can produce healthier birds in larger quantities, more humanely, with much less labor. Complete with feed formulas, equipment plans, slaughter tips and marketing suggestions this is the one book you need to raise up to 20,000 birds per year with much less work than you thought was possible. Meat and egg chickens and turkeys. Companion video also available. From Back40Books:

"Raising the Home Duck Flock" by Dave Holderreadd, 1978, 1983, Storey Books, ISBN 0882661698
The "Duck Owner's Bible", used by beginners and experienced duck producers alike. From eggs to ducklings to adults, health, feeding, butchering (with recipes), and using the feathers and down. Holderreadd has raised ducks all his life, owns a duck preservation centre dealing with rare breeds, and has taught duck raising and management. "Ducks are the easiest domestic birds to raise. They'll forage for much of their food, and they don't need to be pampered with expensive housing." Well-written, clear and thorough. Buy at Raising the Home Duck Flock

"The Book of Geese -- A Complete Guide to Raising the Home Flock" by Dave Holderread, 1981, Hen House Publishing, ISBN 0931342023
Like his book on ducks, Dave Holderreadd's "goose bible" is used by beginning amateurs and professionals both. Well-illustrated, well-written book comprehensively covers the subject of these useful, quirky and very likeable birds. "The first full-length English language book devoted solely to geese". Download the book from the CD3WD 3rd World library (59.8Mb pdf):
Buy the book at The Book of Geese

Starting with Geese by Katie Thear, Broad Leys Publishing UK, 2003, 96 pages -- New guide to keeping domestic breeds of geese and ornamental geese on a small or commercial scale. Housing, pasture and water access, feeding, care and management, breeding, selling and showing. All the domestic breeds and a selection of ornamentals shown in full colour. Buy at Starting with Geese

Goose Production, Roger Buckland and Gérard Guy, FAO Animal Production and Health Paper 154, ISBN: 9251048622, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome, 2002 -- A practical guide to sustainable domestic goose production. Geese have a number of inherent advantages: they can consume and digest large amounts of high-fibre and low-quality feed; they are easy to manage; and their rapid growth renders them one of the most efficient sources for meat production. All aspects of goose production are covered. Free online book, 151 pages:

"The Chicken Health Handbook" by Gail Damerow, 1994, Storey Publishing, ISBN10: 0882666118
Must-have reference for the small flock owner, covers the problems and diseases common to chickens of all breeds and all ages. Hatching healthy chicks, nutrition, spot diseases and infections in the early stages, parasites, predators, safe houses and yards. Practical charts and an alphabetic listing of diseases provides quick access to treatments and remedies. Buy at The Chicken Health Handbook

"Gardening with Guineas -- A Step by Step Guide to Raising Guinea Fowl on a Small Scale" by Jeannette S. Ferguson, 1999, FFE MEDIA, ISBN 0739202502
Guide to raising guinea fowl, covers the life of a guinea from eggs to adults, including incubation, feeding, housing, training and common prolems. The only book of its kind. Buy at Gardening with Guineas

"Quail: An Egg & Meat Production System" by Dr. Franklin W. Martin, Alison G. Martin-Davis & Annabelle Maffioli, ECHO Technical Note. "The eggs and meat production system explained in this publication is so small that it could fit into almost any home. It is a unique plan for use of a unique animal." The system produces about half a kilo of high-protein food per day at US$1 per kg -- or a fraction of that price if the family can produce its own high-quality feed.

"Raising Poultry Successfully" by Will Graves, 1985, Williamson, ISBN 0913589098
Practical how-to book for small home flocks of chickens, ducks, geese. How to have high-quality meat and eggs cheaply and easily. Factual, clear, readable style. All the basics and more: Meat only, eggs only, or both? Home-grown or commercial feeds? Housing and watering, Butchering and dressing. With plans for portable and permanent chicken coops, publications, equipment sources. Buy at Raising Poultry Successfully

"Basic Butchering of Livestock and Game" by John J. Mettler, Jr., DVM, 1986
This is the book for anyone who hunts, farms, or buys large quantities of meat. Takes the mystery out of slaughtering and butchering everything from beef and veal, to venison, pork, lamb, poultry, rabbits and small game. Also processing and preserving. Clear and easy-to-follow, with 130 detailed illustrations, complete, step-by-step instructions. Buy at Basic Butchering of Livestock & Game

Raising Poultry -- Useful FAQ at The Small Farm Resource, good, practical stuff as usual on this site, emphasis on chickens.

"Fences for Pasture and Garden", Gail Damerow, 1992, Storey Books, ISBN 088266753x
A good fence is essential for protecting your livestock. "'Build all your fences horse high, pig tight, and bull strong,' the old saying goes," writes Gail Damerow, the editor of Rural Heritage magazine. But "no-one else's fencing needs are exactly like yours." A well-made fence brings peace of mind. Practical, easy-to-use guide to selecting, planning, and building fences that work. Pros and cons of various fence systems, complete and well-illustrated directions on how to build all types of fences, and also gates. The focus is on fencing livestock in and predators out, not a book for "pretty" suburban fences. Buy at Fences for Pasture & Garden

Poultry Houses and Appliances: A DIY Guide by J. Batty (editor), Triplegate, 1983, ISBN 0946474117, 160 pages, b/w diagrams. A guide book to show the domestic poultry keeper how to make suitable houses, runs, brooders, feeders and drinkers. The dimensions and materials needed are given in detail. The emphasis is on practical houses and equipment. Buy at Poultry Houses and Appliances

For a treasurehouse of useful how-to's and information on housing poultry and much else see
"Handy Farm Devices and How to Make Them" by Rolfe Cobleigh, Orange Judd Company, 1910 -- Cobleigh's devices and techniques were good answers to common farm problems and they're just as functional and useful now as they were then. See Chapters 4 Barns and Stock, 5 Poultry and Bees, 8 Gates and Doors, 9 When We Build. Full text online at the Small farms library.

More plans and designs in Chapters 4 Poultry Quarters, and 5 Poultry Fixtures and Devices in
"Profitable Poultry Production" by M. G. Kains, Orange Judd Company, 1910. Full text online at the Small farms library.

Small Chicken House -- Criteria for the "perfect" chicken coop, for 15-20 birds, with three diagrams and details.

THE COOP -- poultry resource on raising, breeding and showing poultry: chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys, wild waterfowl, gamebirds. Lots of user input. Good range of informative and useful articles at the Library, basics, background on breeds, how-to's, history, linked to categorized message boards. Directory of poultry people, breed clubs, new, used, rare and out of print poultry, pet and agriculture books at the Bookstore (online orders).

The Poultry Connection is a large directory of poultry websites and resources, with forums, a bookstore and site search. Bantams, chickens and waterfowl, ducks and geese, peafowl and guineas, pheasant, quail, turkeys, chukar, pigeons and doves, emus, ostrich and rheas, rare breeds. Commercial production, diseases and disorders, farm sites, housing, incubation and brooding, equipment and supplies, nutrition and more.

The FeatherSite Poultry Page -- "This started out as a listing of the birds on my farm, but has evolved into an online poultry encyclopedia." An online zoo of domestic poultry, with photos, video and good information resources on chickens, ducks, geese, guinea fowl, pigeons, turkeys, even swans and peacocks, and non-domestic species. Broodiness and broody hens, coop plans (links), baby chicks, raising chicks, raising ducklings and goslings, incubation & hatching, hatcheries, health, books on poultry, breed clubs, links, equipment, rare breeds, poultry glossary.

Backyard Poultry magazine: "Dedicated to more and better small-flock poultry" -- Published bi-monthly in north-central Wisconsin by Countryside Publications, also publishes Countryside & Small Stock Journal, Dairy Goat Journal , and sheep! magazine. Subscribe, current issue, past issues, online library, Breeders Directory, resources.

Poultry email mailing list for people seeking advice on poultry raising, husbandry or anything poultry related.
Post message:
Post message: poultry
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Message archive, with search:

Incubation: A Guide to Hatching and Rearing by Katie Thear, Ref: 090613725X from Broad Leys Publishing UK, 2003, 96 pages -- Covers the use of small to medium sized incubators and brooders, as well as larger systems for more exotic species. Clear and concise presentation, emphasis on practical techniques and DIY tips. Species covered: chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys, guinea fowl, quail, pheasants, partridges, peafowl, ostriches, emus, rheas and parrots. Relevant to poultry keepers, waterfowl and game breeders, and anyone with an interest in domestic and exotic species of birds. Buy at Incubation: A Guide to Hatching and Rearing

Incubation at the FeatherSite Poultry Page -- links to online guides, plans and instructions for making homemade incubators, with FAQs on incubating and hatching.

Cardboard box incubator -- Make an incubator out of two cardboard boxes or plywood -- this is an online schools biology project but useful for smallholders or backyard chicken raisers. Uses commercial heating elements or light bulbs in porcelain sockets. Expect about a 50% success rate with 3 dozen eggs (commercial incubators: about 80%).

"Pastured Poultry Profits" by Joel Salatin, Allan Nation, Vicki H. Dunaway (Editor), reissue 1996, Chelsea Green, ISBN 0963810901

Joel Salatin advances one of his mobile broiler coops on his farm in Virginia (T.L. Gettings, Rodale Images)
Salatin says pastured poultry with mobile pens produces a safer, more environmentally sound and tastier bird. For the farmer, it's also a more satisfying, wholistic, economically beneficial and integrated system. Salatin sets out a workable guideline for starting your own operation: "A couple working 50 hours a week for six months a year on 20 acres can net $25,000-$30,000." Getting started, pasturing, processing, marketing, problems, and troubleshooting. Makes poultry a cottage industry once again. Buy at Pastured Poultry Profits

Plans for Building a Greenhouse-Style Pasture Broiler Pen. An interesting variation on Joel Salatin's poultry pasture pen by Maine grazier Chris Bailey, with a picture and construction details. "This structure will allow you to hang a 5 gallon waterer from the center purlin; didn't blow away in 50 mph winds; allows the degree of shade, wind, and rain protection to be easily modified by rolling up or down the plastic sides, or by covering one end in cool or windy weather; and allows easy entry and exit to feed, put in/take out birds. Not inexpensive, though," Maine says. Probably heavy too. It uses nine 10ft lengths of 3/4" electrical conduit. Why not try 1" PVC water pipe? Schedule 40 for strength.

PasturePoultry email mailing list, for anyone with an interest in raising poultry on pasture for meat and egg production.
List url:
Searchable archives:

Small farms
Small farm resources
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Farming with trees
Farming with animals
Pigs for small farms
Poultry for small farms
Aquaculture for small farms
Composting for small farms
Controlling weeds and pests

Small farms library

City farms

Organic gardening
Building a square foot garden
Plant spacing guides
No ground? Use containers
When to sow what
Garden pond
Gardening resources

Making compost
Composting resources
Composting indoors
Composting for small farms

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