After raising layers for the past year, and enjoying it, I thought I'd try raising meat birds. I ordered 25 Red Rangers from Mt. Healthy and set my mind on building a coop out of pallets.
I built the frame with pallets and used siding from Lowes. I put on a metal roof and used cedar for the doors and trim. I was pleased with the way the coop turned out (it's not quite finished off in the attached photo); a few years ago I couldn't have done this!
After about 2 weeks I noticed many of my chics couldn't stand or walk. I called Mt. Healthy and they said they had some trouble with this latest batch of Ranger chics--they were hatched too early or something like that. They suggested that I put the weak ones down, and they sent me a reimbursement check.
The remaining 14 birds made it 12 weeks. 12 of these 14 birds were very healthy, strong birds. They enjoyed foraging and looked and acted as the S&G or Mt. Healthy advertising says: strong, good foraging birds. I had what appeared to be many roosters, and by 12 weeks they were getting very aggressive--lots of fighting amongst themselves. Also, by the end of 3 months many were starting to get quite large. I didn't weigh them while they were alive, but I would have guessed the big ones were in the 6-8 lb range.
The dressed weights were as follows:
The biggest was 6.3 lbs dressed; the smallest 3.5 lbs. Two others were ~4 lbs and the rest were in the 5 lb range with several at 5.5 lbs.
We tried them the other night and they are some of the best chicken we ever had!
I found raising meat birds to be very different than layers. They eat so much more, make much more mess, and don't have the stamina that my lady layers do.
It was a great learning experience. I was waiting to taste them to decide if I'd do it again....I think I will, but will probably choose a different bird next time, given the problems that I had with these.
Thanks for reading!