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.