Small Scale Farming: Raising Poultry and Other Animals

Join the authors of “Farming for Self-Sufficiency” and learn how to use small scale farming methods for raising poultry and other livestock.

  • 029 small scale farming - raising poulty
    Raising poultry is on of the more feasible options in a small scale farming operations.
  • 030 small scale farming - keeping rabbits
    The author considers raising rabbits to be more trouble than they're worth.

  • 029 small scale farming - raising poulty
  • 030 small scale farming - keeping rabbits

Ah, the vicissitudes of time. Two years ago, when there were no currently relevant small scale farming introductory handbooks available, many of us welcomed the publication of Richard Langer's Grow It! with open arms. Now that we're all older and more experienced, however, some folks find it increasingly easy to criticize that breakthrough beginner's guide.

Which brings us to another breakthrough book that is just as important (probably more so) now as Grow It! was two years ago, and which may well come up for its share of criticism in another 24 months or so. Be that as it may, John and Sally Seymour's record of 18 successful years on a 5-acre homestead in England is important now and should offer welcome encouragement to today's back-to-the-landers, both real and imaginary. MOTHER EARTH NEWS has been serializing their book, Farming for Self-Sufficiency. This installment deals with raising poultry, sheep, goats, and other livestock. Many readers will no doubt want a personal copy for their home libraries.   

He who can deliberately inflict torture upon an animal, is an abuser of the authority which God has given him and is, indeed, a tyrant in his heart. —William Cobbett  

Raising Chickens

And that rules out, completely and absolutely, Belsen houses of whatever nature they be: battery houses or broiler houses. To confine, whom nature has given the urge to scrap, to perch, to flap her wings, to take dust baths, in a wire cage in which she cannot do any of these things, is revoltingly cruel and I cannot bring myself to talk to anybody who does it, nor would I, on any condition, allow such a person inside my house.

Let your hens run outside, so that they can suffer, as we do, the heat of the sun and the bite of the frost. No animal was meant always to be kept at the same temperature. Let them have a house in which they can perch at night away from the foxes and the rain, although hens do very well indeed, in our climate, just perching in trees. Give each hen a handful of grain every evening and a handful or two of high protein food in the morning, and any scraps you can spare. They will eat a lot of grass and a lot of earwigs. If they want to go broody, let them go broody. They will hatch you out a clutch of pretty little chicks, which you can eat when they get less pretty, or, if pullets, introduce into your laying flock. Keep them out of your garden or they'll play hell with it. A dozen, or a couple of dozen, hens kept like this will keep you and your family in eggs most of the year. At times you will have some to give away, at times you may be without any, but if you have plenty of bacon hung up that won't kill you.

If you want to go in for hens in a larger way, say because you are the hen specialist in a community, or because you want to make eggs part of your export trade, then I would recommend the method used by that doyen of poultry keepers, Mr. Jim Worthington. Keep hens on free range and give them whole grain in one self-feed container and protein in another. Let them have as much of both as they can stuff, and this won't be much, as a matter of fact, because they will balance their own diet. If they are not on free range give them green food, household scraps, and anything else they will eat. The self-feed hoppers you can make yourself by hanging oil drums down from the roof with holes knocked in the bottoms of them, enough to let the birds peck out the grain. If you feed protein mash in one you should stand it in a tray, with holes knocked in the bottom of the drum so that any spillage is caught in the tray. Raise it up to keep out mice and rats. You will find by this method that you have very little work to do, and you get your eggs very economically, and your hens stay fit as well.

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