Even though we still very much live in the suburbs of Washington, DC, we have the beginnings of a small-scale poultry flock out on the Oregon Coast. The 5 guineas and 3 muscovy ducks acquired last summer were joined by 5 hens and a rooster at the beginning of January. I had a very quick trip to the place the first week of January and was joined by my father. Before we set out from my folks’ place for Oregon, we snuck out after dark to procure the 5 hens and rooster from my mother’s hodge-podge of poultry roosting around just about every corner of the barnyard.
Right now I would only be excited if either of the two female guineas set on eggs because we aren’t there to really enjoy them or take advantage of their production. [My caveat related to the guineas is due to their reputation as being great at controlling tick populations.] The current population is sufficient to enjoy fresh eggs when we do show up. That said, I’ve recently purchased a newly published book, “The Small-Scale Poultry Flock” by Harvey Ussery, to assist me in planning my future poultry empire.
I’m reasonably comfortable with chickens and homestead poultry production, having grown up on ‘Old McDonald’s Farm.’ That experience was the reason I ended up an animal husbandry volunteer in the Peace Corps. But I bought the book for the chapters on feeding, particularly producing high quality feed on a small-scale, and breeding a self-sustaining flock.
It will be some time before I actually start a flock of dark brahma chickens using a spiral breeding system (my current iteration of future plans), but I did take the opportunity today to go to a ‘meet the author’ presentation by Mr. Ussery at the Lovettsville Library. It was a full library conference room and there were some interesting questions from people with the opportunity to have backyard or small homestead flocks at present.
The book is a great resource. The best chapters in my opinion are the introduction to poultry breeding and selection of breeding stock, and the chapters on manure management and integration of poultry in the garden and orchard.
One last photo from Oregon – our dog standing next to the poultry pen fence that we built last September, with chicken wire around the bottom to deter predators (and dogs.)