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Freedom Rangers as laying hens - impressed so far!

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

My husband and I ordered a batch of freedom ranger chicks (26 last fall) as broilers, and decided to keep five of the females as laying hens.  I'm impressed so far and wanted to share that info because I've seen a few folks on BYC asking about freedom rangers (or red rangers) as dual purpose birds.


First, the pullets grew larger than I anticipated, 7-8 lbs each (and they are not eating free choice because I didn't want them to get too heavy).  


They started laying eggs in late December, at only 16 weeks of age!!  I was completely shocked by that.  I though they'd go to at least 20 weeks, if not longer because the daylight is short.  But they are really starting to crank out some eggs.  We have five chickens, and though I'm not sure that all five are laying because they are using the same nest box (and laying on the ground), we've had 18 eggs in 16 days...  There have been a couple of soft shell eggs that broke on the ground too.


A couple of the eggs have had multiple yolks (the first egg had three!!), which I'm assuming is just an irregularity as their bodies start producing. Here's that three-yolker in the frying was a fairly normal size egg, with three small yolks.  The shell was a very normal thickness and hardness (I didn't take a picture because I thought our neighbor was playing a joke on us by putting an egg in the pen when he fed them during our holiday travels - I didn't believe it was our first egg until we cracked it and saw the three yolks!)  We've had a couple of eggs with two yolks since then...




The eggs are all brown, but have distinct color differences.  The picture below is of three eggs I found in the nest box in one afternoon - I checked that morning as well, so I know they are from three different hens.  Before you think these are gigantic eggs, please note that I have incredibly small hands...  The lightest colored egg is about the size of a "large" grocery store egg, the others are a bit smaller. 




We were happy with these birds as broilers and if this keeps up we're going to be happy with these birds as layers too!  If anyone else has experience with freedom rangers as laying hens and has any info to share, please do!

post #2 of 8
Thread Starter 

Update on Freedom Rangers as laying hens, 6 months in to laying.


The Freedom Rangers are doing fairly well.  One of the five did die at about 9.5 months of age.  I did a necropsy and found a lot of hardened egg yolk like substance (resembled boiled egg yolks) inside her body.  I think it was probably a blocked oviduct, and that she hadn't been laying eggs for quite a while, based on the amount of yolk-like substance.  The other four birds appear to be doing fine.  Between the four of them we are averaging 2 eggs a day, or about a dozen eggs per week.  Two of the birds are very regular layers, an egg almost every day.  The other two birds lay one or two a week.  One of those birds lays very thin shell eggs, sometimes soft-shells that rupture as they are laid.  If I could figure out which bird it was, I'd cull her, but they are sneaky little things and I just can't manage to figure out which one she is!  


The only other concern I have with these birds right now is their ability to adapt to the heat (I'm in South Carolina).  They are struggling with the warming summer temperatures.  I'm wondering if their meat bird characteristics have lead them to build up too much fat (i.e. insulation) that is keeping them from cooling themselves adequately.

post #3 of 8

we love our rangers they lay large to jumbo eggs 6 days a week. I have rangers eggs in the incubator now on day 14. our last ranger batch didn't develop well but the one that hatched is huge next to the jersey giants he hatched with.

post #4 of 8
Thread Starter 

My experiment with freedom rangers as laying hens did not end well.  Only one of the five is still alive.  Above I described the first death.  The second happened about a month or so later but I did not do a necropsy.  The third happened at about 13 months and was a rather large/fat bird, but she had been a very good layer.  The fourth died shortly thereafter, and I a necropsy on her.  She had an absolutely ridiculous amount of body fat (photos here if you are interested, but they are pretty graphic:, along with a soft shell egg and fluid in her body cavity. (Note, these birds did not have free choice feed, I measured and controlled their twice daily rations and made sure I only gave as much as they would eat by the next feeding and lowered the amount from what they were eating when they were growing to full size).  My guess is that the extreme amount of body fat just put too much pressure on her internal organs.  Ironically, the only bird that has survived is the sole white chicken that came in the original batch of 26.  She obviously has some genetic differences, and has not gotten fat like the others did.  I would definitely raise freedom rangers again as broilers, but I think I'll stick to some of the more traditional or heritage laying hens.

post #5 of 8

I'm sorry about the loss of your birds, but thanks for posting the follow-up. Extremely useful information.

Black Ameraucanas and Black Copper Marans
Black Ameraucanas and Black Copper Marans
post #6 of 8

oh dear, we have a red ranger hen that was given to us, and i adore her! we call her "chicken-puppy" bc right after our godlen retriever passed away she began following us around all the time, even when full, even in the house, she visits while i do dishes, coming in through the front door, hops up at a chair at the table and lays down... cracks us up, i think she is laying every other day. i just love her, she has a sweet disposition and unfortunately my four kids and I have really started thinking of her as a pet rather than an animal with a purpose. her name is marmalade, or Marmee, or Marmalady.  She is almost 5 months old. 

post #7 of 8

ALSO!  Thank you so much for your info! i appreciate that and forgot to tell you! 


post #8 of 8

I just wanted to add, I have a Freedom Ranger hen, Ginger, she is 3 years old this spring. She has stopped laying since last fall, but was a frequent layer till then. She is also a pet. She is funny, comical and loves to be by her peeps. She is a huge lap sitter, and will peck your leg lightly till you sit down. I can't find out any information on how long they will live. She is dieted, but gets lots of exercise. I'm hoping she'll live at least 6 years, but I'm enjoying all she'll give.

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