A few more questions about "freedom rangers"...search didnt answer..

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by moenmitz, Jul 10, 2008.

  1. moenmitz

    moenmitz Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I read the pages and pages of posts about these birds, and so I decided to give it a go, canceled my order from MMH for 100 Cornish Mutants and called JM Hatchery and ordered 100 Rangers...only by whatever name he calls them, cant recall. I am very excited about them, just couldnt get enthusiastic about raising birds that can barely walk but I didnt know there WERE any other good options for meat birds.

    My question is regarding feed-MMH had told me to feed the Cornish turkey starter to prevent their legs from giving out...do I need a higher protein for these guys, or will regular chick starter be ok?

    Should I let them have access to feed day/night, or do I need to take it away ever? (They will be free ranging during the day)

    What age/size should I process them for fryers, and what age/size is best for roasters?

    Also, if anyone knows of a link that gives a thorough background story on these birds, I would be grateful. I put it together from all of the posts, but I would like to have something that tells the story start to finish, rather than try to "sum it all up" for my family. They wont quite get my enthusiasm I think!

    Thanks a bunch!
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2008
  2. greyfields

    greyfields Overrun With Chickens

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    Quote:I am loving my Redbros to bits.

    Quote:A normal chick starter is fine assuming it's 20-22% range. Ideally you can find a broiler starter/finisher, so you never have to change food on them. Gamebird feed is overkill, unless it's all you can get (in which case cut it with cracked corn or another grain to lower teh protein).


    Quote:All my Freedom Rangers were done in the 9.5 to 10.0 week range for roasters. If you want fryers, slaughter them at 3-4 lbs live weight.


    Quote:http://www.poultrylabelrouge.com/
     
  3. moenmitz

    moenmitz Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you Greyfields! Very helpful. As you were typing, I edited my post to include one more question-can they have free access to feed at all times? Thanks agaiN!
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2008
  4. greyfields

    greyfields Overrun With Chickens

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    That's more a religious question than an animal husbandry one. People raise excellent broilers both providing food 24/7 and providing food 12/12. Just do it how it feels right to you.
     
  5. moenmitz

    moenmitz Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Well, what I would like to do is to free range them all day, and only grain them in the evening. I think it would make it a lot easier to get 100 chickens to go into the barn at night, for certain. I know this is acceptable with regular chickens, but I didnt know if this breed had any specific nutritional demands that would not be met that way.
     
  6. d.k

    d.k red-headed stepchild

    * You could give them just breakfast and dinner. Let them work for their own lunch. (Mine is up at 5 a.m. or so, and hungry!)
     
  7. HillCountryMomma

    HillCountryMomma Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I think this is one of those 'your mileage may very' situations depending on you location (weather) and how you are raising the birds.

    We butchered the first of our rangers (8 of the medium to biggest birds) at 10.5 weeks and had a size range of 4 lbs 4 oz to 5 lbs dressed weight. For my family of 6, I don't want roasters any smaller than that. I was not real thrilled with the non-uniform growth of the birds. I wish they'd all been that big at 10.5 weeks, or earlier. Many were smaller. If you want a smaller roaster (3.5-4 lbs) you could butcher at 9-10 weeks just fine. Just depends on what you are aiming for.

    I now have 31 birds left to process this weekend at 11.5 weeks. I've had 2 die in the last week from heat, so I'm done messing with them. They're getting butchered no matter what they weigh! I haven't been overly thrilled with the birds 'resistence' to weather. Part of the reason I ordered them vs. the cornishx is because they are supposed to be hardier. I've lost 8 out of 50 thus far. Not my idea of hardy!!

    I let mine free range over a lot of space for several weeks. I think that slowed their growth down a lot. Once I started locking them up and only letting them range for a limited time (a few hours before dark) I finally got some good growth and bulking up of the birds. My birds get their feed topped up 2x a day, plus free ranging. They have feed almost 24-7, and certainly all daylight hours. I talked to a lady who let hers free range all over her farm, never locked them up. She had 4lb birds at 12 weeks. So, that gives you an idea of what extensive ranging will do to your weight gain.

    I started mine on a 20% protein chick starter and left them on it till a couple weeks ago when I was told by several people that they needed more protein. I don't know if the higher protein really did anything for them! They did the bulk of thier growth on 20% starter and I tend to think that's plenty good enough.

    The birds do taste good. I will say that for them. But then, so did the free range Rhode Island Red roosters we butchered and those guys really did free range. Didn't cost much in feed at all and only dressed out a couple lbs smaller.

    It's left me with real mixed feelings about the 'free range' meat birds!! I'm starting to think there's a reason that 'production' animals are bred to produce. Not be pretty or run around!

    Liz
     
  8. moenmitz

    moenmitz Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you, that is good to know! I dont mind the extra time it takes to get them to size, I just want to be able to afford to raise them! These will basically just be for our family, relatives, and friends-100 birds doesnt go so far. If it seems like potentially a good way to go, all said and done, we may do more next year. We are in Iowa, and summer is hot and humid here. My birds dont come until August, and wont be outside until September, so it should be a bit cooler by then. I have a lot of cats and cant risk putting them outside while they still look like a good snack! So, their first four weeks will be primarily all grain fed, though I will add grass clippings and treats as well. Do you know if their would be any potential harm in feeding them a higher protein feed from the start? We already have about 75 chickens, 50 of whom are layers, the others mainly heavy dual purpose birds, Buff Orpingtons, Barred Rock, White Giant. Planning on butchering the big boys and keeping for ourself. It is my understanding that they dont put on enough weight fast enough to be considered an affordable meat bird, but that they do make some nice roasters when they are several months old. We'll see I guess! I just cant raise the Cornish regardless. We have been caring for a friends broilers the past week while he is on vacation. It was my first time really getting an up close look at them. The poor things! He tried free ranging them, but they were not inclined to forage, so he gave up. He is kind to them, did everything the hatchery recommended to prevent leg problems, doesnt overcrowd them. But I watched them hobbling over to their food and water dishes and wanted to cry. I had heard all of the negative things about raising them, but seeing it firsthand made a bigger impression on me, and his are in no way living as badly as the large commercial operations I know. Profitable and practical-absolutely. I am not judging others for making the decision to prioritize in those areas. But this isnt my livelihood, and my family will not starve if we have to eat skinny chickens. I cant justify to myself raising a crippled animal, and I will no longer contribute to the demand for such a product. If that means I will be munching on a scrawnier bird, well, so be it. They are all edible afterall! [​IMG]
     

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