Poultry! Chickens, Ducks, Geese and Turkeys

It’s National Poultry Day! When someone says “poultry” what is the first think you think of? I would guess – chicken. Am I right? How poultry ever became the generic word for certain birds is unknown. The word is derived from the Latin word “pullus” which means small animal. A mouse is a small animal but it is definitely not poultry.

Today poultry is used to mean birds like chicken, turkeys, and other birds that are kept for their meat and eggs. Chickens were raised for their meat around 100 BC, maybe even earlier. Researchers believe these birds were kept for entertainment purposes over 10,000 years ago.

Today we raise poultry for their meat and eggs. Chickens are one of the few “livestock” that are allowed in some cities. Chickens can make good pets, too. They can be more colorful than tropical fish and more friendly, too.

The turkeys we eat today were domesticated and bred from a species call Wild Turkeys. These turkeys were native to parts of Mexico. It is believed that the Mayans domesticated these birds for food about 2,000 years ago.

Ducks were raised for both eggs and meat for at least 4,000 years. Researchers believe ducks were first domesticated in China, Egypt, and parts of Europe. A duck produces more eggs annually than a chicken! These eggs are higher in Omega 3 fatty acids. They also stay fresh longer.

Recent findings suggest that the goose was the first bird domesticated for meat and eggs. The dig was in China. The bones were carbon dated to 5,000 B.C.E. China is the largest producer of goose meat. Goose meat is also a significant part of their diet.

Even some exotic birds are considered poultry. This includes the ostrich, emus, rheas, and cassowaries. How do they taste? I’ve had emu. Surprisingly it’s a red meat and tastes like beef!

Roasted, fried, or BBQed, poultry is the favorite meat for many people. Is it better for you than beef? Like beef or other meat, it all depends on how it was raised and prepared. There are many pros and cons for both.

Today, let’s get out the rotisserie and enjoy our favorite bird.

KeiLin Farm, a producer of farm fresh beef, chicken, pork, and eggs, is in Davisburg, Michigan. Check out our website to discover all our products and services.

Sweet Time of the Year

There is nothing like warm, pure maple syrup slathered on steaming, hot pancakes. Breakfast, lunch, or dinner, pancakes with maple syrup is a favorite.

Maple syrup is produced in only nine states. Vermont leads the nation producing maple syrup. They make over two million gallons of syrup a year. That sounds like a lot. And it is. But it takes over 80 million gallons a maple sap to produce that amount.


All maple trees make maple syrup. The sugar maple has the highest concentration of sugar in its sap. We have gotten a lot of syrup from our silver maples. These trees will yield one gallon of syrup for every 40 gallons of sap. Black and red maples as well as box elders can be used. These trees have a lower amount of sugar in their sap. It could take of up 60 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup.


Late winter is maple syrup time. The temperature during the day needs to be in the 40s. The nights need to fall below freezing. The season is over when the night temperature stays about freezing. When buds appear on the tree, the sap does not flow.

To extract the sap from a tree, a hole is drilled into the tree. The hole should angle downward and be about 3” deep. A spile is inserted and tapped into place. A bucket or bag is hung from the spile to collect the sap. The size of the tree determines the number of taps. We do not tap trees that are less than 10” in diameter.

The boil

We collect the sap daily. And store in a cool area. Most people wait until they collect at least 10 gallons of sap. This sap is boiled until all the water has evaporated. The sap boils in a large, square pan on a wood-burning stove. We like to move the syrup into a large, round pot and finish it in the house. The sap needs to reach 2190 to become syrup. We use a refractor and stop when the syrup reaches 68-70 Brix. The Brix indicates the sugar content of a liquid.


We filter the syrup before bottling it. This removes any debris that might be in the syrup. Syrup bottles are available from several online stores. We prefer to use pint canning jars.

Keep the syrup in a cool place. Then enjoy!

KeiLin Farm, a producer of farm fresh beef, chicken, pork, and eggs, is in Davisburg, Michigan. Check out our website to discover all our products and services.

It’s all about aging

One of the best ways of getting full flavor from your beef is by aging. When we think of fine wins or delicious cheese, we know that they go through an aging process that enhances the flavor. The same holds true with beef. Your beef needs to go through the aging process to bring out its flavor and tender texture.

Types of aging

There are two ways to age beef – wet and dry. Both processes keep the meat refrigerated at 320 to 340 in a climate-controlled environment.

For wet aging, the meat is placed in air-tight bags for up to three weeks. Dry aged meat is stored uncovered for up to four weeks.

Why age?

As the beef ages, it loses some of its moisture. Loss of water does not mean less juicy. Losing some water is good because it enhances the flavor. Think about cooking a sauce. If the sauce is watery, it usually lacks the flavor and texture of a nice, thick sauce.

Aging meat allows the natural enzymes in the meat to work. They break down the muscle bonds in the meat. These muscle cells are made up of different materials. The two primary ones are protein and glycogen. These molecules fuel the muscles to contract. Unbroken, the meat would not be flavorful. And yes, the glycogen does get broken down into sugars, producing a sweeter, but not sugary, flavor.

That process produces a more tender texture of the beef. By breaking down the proteins, we get a cut of beef that is easier to slice and more flavorful when we chew it.

From hanging to table

The entire process, from the time the beef is first hung to the time it is processed for your table can take about a month. There is some loss of weight between the hanging weight the processed weight, but that is another blog topic.

So, enjoy your steak, roast, or burger knowing that like wine or cheese, beef tastes better with age.

KeiLin Farm, a producer of farm fresh beef, chicken, pork, and eggs, is located in Davisburg, Michigan. Check out our website to discover all of our products and services.

A Chicken is a Chicken, or Not?

With the price of food getting higher and higher every week, we get a lot of calls from people on raising meat birds. Some want to know the basics on raising them, others are more concerned about how long to keep them or “when are they done?”

Going to the local farm store that has tubs filled with chickens, can get confusing. There are probably over 100 breeds of chickens throughout the world. That’s way too many to even consider. Let’s make this a little easier.


There are three classifications of chickens: layers, meat birds, and dual purpose.


The layers are the ones that give us eggs. You can research which are the better layers, which do better in your climate, etc. On average, a layer starts laying eggs when they are five months old. They lay an egg every 24 to 26 hours and stop laying for a few weeks during the molting season. Layers could lay eggs until they are seven- or eight-year-old, but every year the number of eggs they lay is less and less. A five-year old may lay an egg every other day. A seven-year-old, every three day. Once the egg production decreases, many people want to have their hens processed. Layers do not make good roasters. They are great for chick soup though.

Meat birds

Meat bird are raised for their meat. The Cornish Cross are the most popular. They are ready for processing at 6 to 8 weeks. Other meat birds may take up to 12 weeks before they are ready for processing. A meat bird will usually dress out at 70% to 75% of its live weight. A seven-pound live bird will be about 5 pounds on your table.


Dual purpose birds are layers that can also be used for their meat. One popular dual-purpose breed is the Rhode Island Red. These birds start producing large, brown eggs at about five months. Roosters can be processed at 6- to 8-weeks. Hens are typically processed around 18- to 24-months as their egg production starts to drop. Hens do not make a good table bird but are excellent for stews, pot pies, etc.

Raising chickens

Most chickens require the same basics: food, water, shelter.


The shelter or “coop” can be something as simple as a shed or something as ornate as a multi-story building. Most chickens do well in a shed-type coop. Most birds enjoy being outside when the weather is good. If your area doesn’t have a lot of predators – hawks, fox, etc. It shouldn’t be a problem. If you are concerned, a screened in area will suffice.


Clean water. It can be in a pail, shallow bowl, or a specially designed chicken waterer. As long as the water is fresh and clean, the chickens will be fine. If you are in a cold climate, a heated waterer is essential.


Young birds need a starter feed that’s 22% to 24% protein for the first few weeks, then a finisher feed at about 18% protein. About two weeks before processing, meat birds should have their feed taken away in the evening and put back in the morning.


Chickens can make good pets. The lifespan of a chicken is 5 to 10 years. Some can live longer. Very few layers, though, lay eggs past seven years. And these eggs are laid less frequently than young hens.

Getting chickens is a great way to introduce your family to farm animals and the responsibilities and chores of farm life.

KeiLin Farm, a producer of farm fresh beef, chicken, pork, and eggs, is located in Davisburg, Michigan. Check out our website to discover all our products and services including raising meat chickens and chicken processing.

Great Taste!

We love venison sausage, and we also enjoy making it.

Besides the seasoning, the taste of the sausage depends on a few other factors, like where the deer was harvested, how it was dressed out, and the processor.


We are in a nicely populated but rural area. The deer here are plentiful and graze on an assortment of soybeans and other crops. Like cattle that are fed grain in addition to grass/hay, the deer in our area aren’t as lean as the deer that relied on acorns and twigs. The venison cuts from our local deer tend to taste less gamey as well. Even with the best seasonings, gamey deer can result in a gamey tasting sausage.

Dressed Out

A deer that hadn’t been dressed out, cooled and cleaned properly, can produce meat that has an off taste. We always stress that a properly handled and cleaned deer will produce the best tasting meat. If you are not sure on how to field dress your deer, PennState Extension provides a detailed description of field dressing. Check out Proper Field Dressing and Handling of Wild Game and Fish.


We always hang the deer in our cooler for a few days. These properly tagged deer are processed one deer at a time. Any deer that shows signs of disease is rejected before it is brought into our building. We have heard of some processors who tell the hunters to just stack their deer with the others on a slab of cement outside the processing building. Not a good idea. You have no idea how those other deer were dressed out.

Now how about that sausage? Will your deer meat be mixed with that other deer meat when the magic number of 25 or 50 pounds is reached? Go back to the first element of good taste – what buffet did those other deer visit? The same as yours? Did the hunter take the same care that you did when you dressed out your deer?

We believe that your sausage you receive should come from your deer you brought in without any risk of contamination from another deer. Five pounds of meat provides a nice amount of sticks and if you want 10 pounds, you should be able to select 2 different flavors is you want.

If you are taking the time and skill to harvest a nice deer for your family, the venison you serve should be from the deer you bagged.

KeiLin Farm, a producer of farm fresh beef, chicken, pork, and eggs, is located in Davisburg, Michigan. Check out our website to discover all of our products and services including deer processing.

Cool It

Proper field dressing – that includes getting ALL the organs out and the skin off – is critical to quickly cooling your meat down and preventing it from spoiling.

FACT:  The number of bacteria on your meat can double at temperatures over 40 degrees.

FACT: If the temperature is between 70 and 120 degrees, that bacteria will double EVERY 20 MINUTES.

FACT: If the air temperature is over 50 degrees, you need to find that deer quickly. The meat will start to go bad in 3 to 6 hours.


Bacteria will spoil your deer meat. It’s up to you to find that deer quickly, dress it out, and cool it before the bacteria has a chance to ruin in.

The internal temperature of a deer is around 100 degrees. A good shot means the deer will drop quickly, usually within 100 yards, and you will find it in 15 minutes or so.

Once it’s properly dressed out, get it on ice. The deer cavity needs to be cooled down as quickly as possible.

Ice Tip

The best way is to come prepared with milk jugs – 1 gallon or ½ gallon – filled with frozen water. 2-liter pop bottles work too. The advantage to using ice containers instead of packing loose ice into the cavity, is your meat does not get water-logged. Water-logged meat is not ruined, but it is harder to cut and vacuum seal.

Another advantage of using frozen water containers is the ice will stay frozen for several hours, giving you enough time to get the deer home or to the processor when it can be hung and skinned.

Act quickly

If you did not have a good hit and it takes a while to find the deer, be sure to check it, especially if you hit it in the liver or other organ that could contaminate the meat. This is especially true if you spent several hours or waited over night before finding the deer.

Deer meat doesn’t turn real fast, but if the organs are hit, the organs will, and that can ruin the entire deer. Good deer meat is dark red. If it looks tan, it’s beginning to turn, and it it’s green – leave it for the coyotes!

Most of this is hunting common sense. Field dress your deer as soon as possible, removing ALL the entrails. Cool it down quickly and keep it dry. Bad meat is bad meat and not worth keeping or serving to your friends and family.

If you are not sure about the correct way to field dress your deer, talk to your processor. Most are happy to give you some tips so you will bring in deer that isn’t questionable.

KeiLin Farm, a producer of farm fresh beef, chicken, pork, and eggs, is located in Davisburg, Michigan. Check out our website to discover all of our products and services including deer processing.

Don’t Push that Deer!

Looking for great tasting venison? Here’s one reason why you shouldn’t push that deer.

You have him in your sight. It’s the perfect shot but as you release the arrow (or pull the trigger), he moves!

You got the shot, but you nicked him. It’s a marginal hit at best.

Now what?

Every hunter I know has his own theory on whether on not that deer should be tracked. More likely, you’ll be pushing that deer rather than actually tracking him.

Yes, pushing a deer does elevate the heart rate and cause more bleeding. Ultimately a faster death, but a marginal hit may not bleed fast enough to cause a quick death.

The longer the deer runs, the further away it gets. Nothing like a long walk with no blood trail to find that deer. And the faster it runs; the more adrenaline builds up in the animal’s muscles.

Why it matters

If you are hunting with the goal of serving great venison steaks and roast, you don’t want to be tasting adrenaline. When a large amount of adrenaline is released by stress, it uses up the glycogen in the animal’s system. The lack of glycogen used by the adrenaline makes your meat tough and will go bad quicker. After death, the glycogen is turned into lactic acid. It’s the lactic acid that helps keep the meat tender, pink, and flavorful. So let the marginal hit go. You want something that tastes good. In truth, your best meat comes from a quick kill where there is a minimal amount of adrenaline released.

On the other hand, if you want the trophy – that 10-point rack – then by all means, track it, push it, do whatever you have to do to find it.

Your choice

It’s your choice to push or not but always think of the end product that you are going after before the adrenaline pumping through your system sends you on the chase.

Adrenaline – a hormone excreted at times of stress
Glycogen – stored form of glucose or sugar that is an animal’s main source of energy.

KeiLin Farm, a producer of farm fresh beef, chicken, pork, and eggs, is located in Davisburg, Michigan. Check out our website to discover all of our products and services including deer processing.

It’s Farmer’s Day

Working the field

We have Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Secretary’s Day, Personal Trainer Day, even Pharmacist Day, so why shouldn’t we have a Farmer’s Day?

Farmers are, without a doubt, the most important people in the world!

I saw a post once that said something like this:

We need a doctor when we are sick,
We need a lawyer when we are in trouble,
We need a minister when we need guidance,
But we need a farmer three times a day
– for our food!

Most of us take our food for granted. We go to the grocery store, and we can select from fresh, to frozen, to canned produce and other foodstuffs that we want.

Farming is food, farming is more than food.

Farmers produce the materials for our clothes, whether it’s cotton or leather. There would be no textile industry without the farmer.

Grocery stores and restaurants need the farmer to supply the public with food.

Many industries that package food would not exist without the farmer.

Truckers and railroads would have less to ship.

I wouldn’t want to go so far as to say our economy rests on the shoulders of the farmer but think about it. Everything that grows is planted, maintained, and harvested by a farmer.

Think about it. Really think about it. Where would we be without the farmer?

Thanking a farmer is a great way to celebrate the day, but what are we doing every day?

Here are some ideas.

  • Buy fruit and vegetables at your local farmer’s market. You are buffing direct from the farmer!
  • Visit a “pick your own” farm and experience harvesting your own produce.
  • Support the festivals that feature farm grown produce. In my state we have Strawberry Festivals, Cherry Festivals, Potato Festivals and more! Make it a family affair!
  • Visit farms. Some have Farm-to-Table events, others provide tours of their facility. It’s a learning experience to find out how much work goes into

And always, support your local farmer.

KeiLin Farm, a producer of farm fresh beef, chicken, pork, and eggs, is located in Davisburg, Michigan. Check out our website to discover all of our products and services.

Let’s Get Grillin’!

grilling burgers

Memorial Weekend starts the picnic and grilling season for most of us. From hamburgers to steaks to chicken or ribs, nothing is safe from the flames.

But we need to do it right to keep it safe for everyone.

Wash your hands

That goes without saying, you have to keep clean around food and that includes your hands. But do you wash them between handling different types of meat? Put the chicken on, then wash your hands before picking up the burgers or ribs. Bacteria can spread easily between as you touch the different meats without washing. And use a different cutting board or wash the cutting board for each type of meat.

Use a thermometer

Good chefs keep a meat thermometer nearby. That chop may look done, but is it? Here are the three temperatures you should remember:

  1. 145 degrees Fahrenheit for steaks, roasts, chops, fish, and other whole cuts of meat
  2. 160 F for ground meat, including beef, pork, and lamb
  3. 165 F for poultry

To read the temperature accurately, put the point of the thermometer into the center of the meat but never touching the bone. Thinner cuts, like burgers, insert it from the side.

Keep meat cold

Keep your meat in the refrigerator until you are ready to cook it. Room temperature is an invitation for bacteria to form. If you need to bring it out, due to the distance of the grill and your fridge, don’t let it sit out for more than 30 minutes.

Keep hot and cold cold

Many grills have a warming rack where you can keep those extra burgers until they are eaten. I make an ice tray, but filling a cake pan with water, then freezing it days before the picnic. Place the salad bowls on top of the ice pan. Any cold foods will stay cold but won’t soggy.

And, of course, promptly move the leftovers to the fridge so they will stay good. Just plan to eat them within 2 or 3 days.

So, what are you waiting for? Let’s get grillin’ and enjoy ourselves this summer.

KeiLin Farm, a producer of farm fresh beef, chicken, pork,  and eggs, is located in Davisburg, Michigan. Check out our website to discover all of our products and services.

A Chicken in Every Pot!

This phrase was the Republican campaign slogan in the late 1920’s but its origin goes back to France in the 16th century. Henri IV had “supposedly wished” that every peasant, no matter how poor, could have chicken every Sunday.

Chicken? Why chicken? Why not a nice juicy Angus T-bone steak?

Until the 1940’s chickens and eggs were luxury food. Most chickens were raised by small farmers or individuals. They were very expensive to feed since they needed grain. Even a small homestead might raise some chickens, but they could easily raise a cow on grass and a pig or two by feeding them scraps and having them browse the orchard.

Chickens were a commodity that most people enjoyed but few could afford. But during both World Wars it became patriotic to raise chickens. Chickens helped supplement the family with eggs and then the chicken dinner. Some were raised for the troops as well.

It wasn’t until the 1940’s that chickens because plentiful and affordable for most families. And in many families, the food of choice for a variety of reasons. They are no longer a luxury.

I can’t promise you a chicken in every pot or chicken every summer, but I can tell you that our chickens are housed in large living quarters, protected from predators, and feed non-GMO feed.

Farm fresh is naturally delicious. Be sure to order your chickens today!

KeiLin Farm, a producer of farm fresh beef, turkeys, broiler chickens and eggs, is located in Rose Township, Michigan. It is in the process of acquiring the required licenses to become a small wine maker.