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.

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.