I guess in some ways this may seem like a no-brainer. Seems that any bird that gets up, runs around and burns calories free ranging runs the risk of burning off energy instead of using it to pack on meat/fat. I let my Rangers out of their tractor this morning. Opened the door and they all flew out and scuttled across their little pasture leaving full food pans in their wake. Now, the pans weren't totally empty before I refilled them and released the beasts. Guess the promise of bugs and grass was more tempting than bagged feed. Part of me would like to see the birds lined up around the chow eating non-stop (gaining, growing, getting more freezer ready darn birds!!). The other part of me (obviously the winning part) really likes to see them out there doing their thing and being chickens. I have this happy ideal in my minds eye that despite being dinner on legs the birds are at least being given the opportunity to live a good life until it's time to off with their heads. It's pretty funny to see them waddling along trying to catch a bug. Is my happy idealism cutting into the bottom line though? If I kept the birds locked in their tractor with nothing to do but eat and poop would I have bigger birds? Do I trade off birdy health and happiness for peak growth? And if so, how much of a loss is it? Any ideas? Would they be a small percentage heavier, or a lot? Liz ~ who REALLY needs butcher weight birds so I'll stop pondering all these inane possibilities!