Bird flu, also known as Avian influenza, has been quite prevalent in the news lately, raising some concerns for many people. The good news is that so far NO cases have been reported in TN. The outbreak, while not over yet, doesn't seem to be quite as severe as the 2015 bird flu outbreak that led to the destruction of 50 million birds.
Iowa has been hit the hardest, with over 13 million birds affected. Areas with high concentrations of commercial poultry flocks are where severe outbreaks are likely to be found.
Commercial Turkeys seem to be the most affected, with an estimated 1.5 million birds having been destroyed.
Europe has been hit badly too, with some areas mandating lock downs for all backyard flocks.
Expect commercial Turkey and Chicken prices to continue to rise over the next few months.
Most pastured poultry producers end up caught in the middle when these outbreaks occur, and in some cases receive most of the blame. By the nature of pasturing, birds are kept outside in the open air (versus covered barns) which in theory makes them more susceptible to pathogens spread by wild birds.
However, at least here in the states, there seems to be little evidence that this is actually the case. Sadly, the official response to the outbreaks usually has the commercial industries protection in mind, and will not hesitate to destroy backyard flocks if they are seen as a potential threat. This led in 2015 to several AI negative backyard flocks to be unfairly destroyed.
I will be taking some common sense bio security measures for my flock moving forward, but as of now the AI risk here in rural Tennessee seems very low. I continue to be a believer that raising poultry outside in the sunshine will always generate better results then in tightly packed indoor spaces in a commercial setting.
Shortages: so far this year we haven't experienced any serious shortages in the industry. Hatcheries seem to be keeping up with increased backyard demand, and so far haven't been widely affected by AI. There was a bit of a shortage of shrink bags back in 2020, but supplies seem to be holding steady now, and I keep a good stock on hand.
Drought is a developing concern. We have had below average rainfall so far this year, and an increase in high winds. The cool weather has helped to off set this, but if it continues into the summer we may be in trouble. There are already severe droughts going on in many other parts of the country, which are not improving.
Feed is still in good supply, but inflation has hit this sector hard. This week a 50 lb bag of non GMO broiler feed went up another $1. This is the second price increase in the last couple months. Packaging materials have gone up significantly too. I'm not planning on raising prices for now, but it may be something I have to consider in the near future if prices continue to rise. Moving forward I will be looking for ways to cut costs (without sacrificing quality of course!) and raise poultry more efficiently.
As always, I appreciate your continued support and business.
What are your thoughts? How are you handling and avoiding inflation?
Till next time,
Spring is here, and so is the seasons first batch of Broiler chicks. They're currently being brooded indoors, until it warms up again next week, and they can move out to pasture. One chick didn't make the journey in the mail, but the others are all doing well, and growing fast. They should be ready to harvest the end of April.
The per pound Broiler and Roaster price for 2022 is $5/lb (orders under 6) or $4.50/lb (orders of 6 or more). Last year saw our feed, packaging, and chick costs rise substantially over 2020 due to inflation. If possible though, I will stick with current prices for the near future.
I also have eggs again! The hens are laying well now, so I appreciate everyone being patient while they took their winter break. I already have two broody hens sitting on eggs, so the home hatched chicks should start arriving soon. New additions to the egg laying flock this year are Blue Marans, and Brown Leghorns so I'll have more dark brown and white eggs in the mix.
Hatching eggs: for those wanting to hatch their own chicks this spring, I'll have Easter Egger, Lavender Orpington, and Mille Fleur d'Uccle eggs available to hatch the end of March.
We've all been enjoying the spring weather, but it looks like Winter is going to come raging back this weekend, we are expecting to get snow, and a sub 20F night.
March 12th also happens to be the anniversary of the blizzard of '93. Snow is pretty, but the birds and I would all rather not get a Blizzard this weekend. But we shall see.
Till next time, happy Spring!
As flu season progresses, it's a good time to be making Chicken broth. Not only is it healthy and nutritious, but also a great way to stretch your chicken just a little bit further.
Chickens from FKF Poultry come with a ''goody bag'' inside each chicken, usually containing feet, gizzard, neck, and heart. Stick them in the fridge until you're ready to start your broth. When ready, add them to a pot on the stove, or a crockpot, along with the bones, and leftovers from the rest of the chicken. Stewing Hens also make excellent broth, and you will have enough extra meat to make chicken pot pies, soups, tacos, etc, and still have enough leftover for a batch of soup.
Cover the chicken with about 2 inches on water, and add your other fixings.
If making broth on the stove, start it on medium heat, and then turn in down on low once it comes to a boil. Broth should be done in 3-4 hours. The longer it cooks the more flavorful it will be. Note that if you let it cook too long, the meat can get dry and tasteless.
If using an instantpot, your broth should be done in about 2.5 hours on the soup/broth setting.
Skim off any scum or fat that rises to the top of the pot. Run the broth through a mesh strainer when you're ready to use it.
I prefer to leave the broth unsalted until I use it, that way you can salt it to taste in your soup.
Freeze extra broth to use later.
Fun fact: Technically, stock is made with just bones, while broth is made with the bones and meat.
A few good things I like to add:
*Onion Peels/scraps. Whenever you cut up an onion add the skins and ends to a baggy and put them in the freezer. Whenever you make a pot of broth add a small handful. They add so much flavor. You can do this with other veggies scraps too if you like.
*Atragulus is a great immune boosting herb. Especially good to add as we progress through flu season. You can order it from most bulk herb stores. Add three or four pieces to your chicken.
*Reishi Mushroom is another immune booster. It usually comes dried and sliced. One slice is sufficient for your broth.
*Digitata Kelp adds a wide variety of nutrients including iodine, to your broth. One small piece is all you need, and it won't effect flavor.
*Lemon Slices will add a excellent flavor to your broth. Just keep in mind you may not want to add it if you plan on making a soup later that will not go well with Lemon!
*Tyme/Parsley/Garlic/Bayleaf if desired.
Have you guys been making lots of broth lately? What sort of things do you like to add? If you haven't started making broth yet I hope I can convince you to start!
Till next time,
Visitors to the farm know that I have several pet Turkeys. Ok, maybe slightly more than several. Turkeys are very friendly, and have inquisitive, quirky personalities that make them excellent pets. Despite popular myth they are very intelligent, and lay eggs just like chickens, though only seasonally. And yes, my Turkeys do have names.
This year four young turkeys who we believed to be toms, were slated for Holiday Dinners. I only keep a couple toms around at a time because they cause a lot of drama when you have too many in the flock. However, after awhile it became obvious that the four toms were four very sweet hens, and I had in fact misjudged their genders. They were promptly pardoned. We will be eating a broiler for our Thanksgiving dinner instead.
In other news, we are currently in the poultry ''off season''. I'm sold out of Broilers, and won't be raising anymore until spring. Keep an eye out around March for a chick arrival announcement!
I also won't be taking on any more egg customers until January. The hens are on their winter break for now. I prefer to let them have a couple months off in the winter instead of providing supplemental lighting (chickens really need around 16 hours of daylight to lay well), but it does leave you all without eggs for awhile. Don't worry, they will start up again soon!
I hope all of you have a great Thanksgiving this year! Enjoy your Turkey, or if you're like us and pardoned the Turkeys, enjoy your Chicken!
Till next time,
Honey Glazed chicken is one of our all time favorites. It's easy to make, and very delicious. One large chicken will feed a family of 5, and you can make a batch of chicken broth with the bones and giblets afterward.
Both our pastured Broilers and Roasters work well for this dish.
The recipe is adapted from the book The grass fed gourmet by Shannon Hayes.
1 3-5 lb Chicken
3/4 cup all purpose Flour
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
Preheat your oven to 350*
Cut up your chicken, then combine the flour, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Coat the chicken in the flour mixture until its thoroughly coated.
Pour the melted butter over the chicken in a pan. Make sure it's thoroughly coated.
Bake uncovered for 30 minutes.
Mix together the Sugar, Lemon, Honey, Soy sauce, and curry powder. After the initial 30 minute bake is over, pour over the chicken, and bake 45 minutes longer. You can occasionally baste the chicken with the sauce if you want the glaze to be thicker.
Serve over rice or mashed potatoes.
If you try the recipe, I'd love to know how it turned out!
Hello Friends! I'm excited to announce that the next batch of Broiler chicks have arrived! They should be ready for processing around September 7th. If your planning on stocking up your freezer for winter (or know someone who will be) let me know and I'll reserve birds for you.
And here are a few photos from this summer:
Easter Egger Pullets
The laying flock
The ''little chicks'' aren't so little anymore
Croissant enjoying the evening
A blue Maran Rooster
Till Next time,
There is always a little confusion in the chicken eating world between the three main types of whole chickens most commonly available: Broilers, Roasters, and Stewing Hens.
So which type is best for you? It all depends how you will be cooking the chicken, and your personal preferences. If you like a large, very tender bird, go for the Broilers. If you want something with greater flavor, and prefer slow/wet cooking your chicken, the Roasters are perfect.
Stewing hens are best boiled to make delicious stock and chicken soups.
Though each type of chicken needs a little difference in cooking, they are all delicious. If you've never tried homemade stock from a plump stewing hen, or a home roasted pastured broiler, you are in for a treat!
May has come and gone in a flash this year, and we're now nearly into the summer. Things are going well here on the farm. The Broilers have all been processed, and the entire batch has sold out.
Another batch of Broilers will be coming along later in the summer, and should be ready in August.
Chick days are here! I've currently got 6 broody hens with almost 40 chicks between them. These will be future roasters and egg layers. Some brown Leghorn pullets will also be joining the flock soon. Hopefully they will boost our winter egg production.
The egg laying flock is doing very well, despite the heat wave. The girls have been working hard lately. Pictured below are a pair of Easter Eggers. These are my current favorite breed. Not only do they lay awesome blue/green eggs, but they are hardy, and their colorful plumage and unique look can't be beat. A large percentage of the aforementioned 40 chicks are Easter Eggers. When they're old enough, the chicks will slowly be introduced to the main layer flock out on pasture. It's always exciting to see the latest batch of layers grow up.
And last but not least, here is Bagel, the 4 year old Bronze Turkey hen looking stunning as she shows off those fine feathers:
Till next time,