Best breed for meat that can live free range

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by julieb41, Mar 23, 2015.

  1. julieb41

    julieb41 In the Brooder

    Mar 19, 2015
    I've got my incubator and on Monday I'm off to our local poultry auction to buy hatching eggs [​IMG]. I'm after a breed to raise for meat that can live range free in an area of woodland. My plan is to put a coop high enough off the ground to keep them safe from foxes at night. I've got a couple of feral Derbyshire Redcaps who were given to me last summer from a friends feral flock, they live in the woodland and roost in a tree. They come for food, but refuse to stay in the run with my layers. I'm wondering if there are other breeds that are tough enough, with good survival instincts, that are also reasonable meat birds? I bought some French Maran eggs last week for a broody hen. I also noticed Rhode Island Red eggs. It will depend on what is entered at the aution on Monday, but I could use some suggestions of breeds to look out for.
  2. CrazyTalk

    CrazyTalk Songster

    Jun 10, 2014
    There is no domestic meat chicken breed that is going to do well if foxes have free access to them. Chickens are stupid - and the larger breeds generally will not fly away from predators - they'll run around squacking while the fox kills them one by one. And I can't see any sort of open door coop design that meat birds could get into that raccoons couldn't.

    Why aren't you using the Derbyshires as meat? They're supposed to get to 7lbs or so.
  3. Hummingbird Hollow

    Hummingbird Hollow Songster

    Jul 1, 2011
    Colorado mountains
    The only predator I've had recurring problems with are raccoons, and they can climb. I don't think simply elevating the coop would be sufficient in protecting your birds from night-time predators.
  4. JadedPhoenix

    JadedPhoenix Songster

    Oct 29, 2012
    Tyro-Lexington, NC
    I live out in the country and have had orpingtons, barred rocks, sussex, brahmas, barnyard mixes, even cornish crosses who have all done well free-ranging. I had a good guardian dog and a good rooster and never lost any of my hens to a predator as a result. Not until a horned owl took my rooster off when he was three and my dog was poisoned. Afterwards, the foxes, hawks, wild dogs and coyotes really came out. Your set up will have a lot to do with how well they do.
  5. julieb41

    julieb41 In the Brooder

    Mar 19, 2015
    Thanks for the replies. Looking at the comments on redcaps in the breeds section of byc it explains why mine have done so well free ranging, they are obviously tough birds. I'm in the UK so no climbing predators here, so long as I could persuade the birds to get well off the ground they should be safe. I'll perhaps increase the redcaps, and try some other breeds too.

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