Freedom Ranger breeding first year results

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by Mrs. Mucket, Nov 3, 2011.

  1. Mrs. Mucket

    Mrs. Mucket Chillin' With My Peeps

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    In 2010 we saved some pullets and a cockerel out of our FR meaty flock. We hatched several eggs this summer, in incubator and under broodies of other breeds. We seemed to have an average hatch rate, though the FR hens laid quite a few double yolkers and they don't often hatch.

    Growing out, the chicks behaved pretty much like the parents--avid foragers and friendly birds. The big difference between the offspring and their parents was the coloring. Most of our original FRs were buff or red, with one brown/gray and one barred tricolor (the roo we kept). Our hatchlings feathered out in several different colors and most were barred like their father. Only one red cockerel looked like the original hatchery bunch. We kept him for breeding next year.

    Here are the dressed weights:
    16 week old FR x FR: range of 5# - 7#, average 6# We would normally process at around 12 weeks but had some delays.
    7 month old FR x RIR cockerel: 7#

    The runt of the summer was a FR x RIR pullet. At hatch she was just slightly smaller than the full FR, but she grew much slower and at 4 months she is just the size of our banties. We'll keep her to see if she keeps growing.

    We also processed our 2010 FR hens. They dressed out at 6# - 8.6#, average 7.5#, and were very fatty under skin and in cavity. We replaced them with some of their daughters so will see how the next generation fares next year.
     
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    I can understand "delays". Even when I think I control the schedule it seems like I don't.

    Would you mind commenting on how you fed them? Dressed weight is going to depend on feeding regimen, so how did you feed the young ones you butchered? What protein feed and how much free range was in there?

    But also, how did you feed the ones you kept? Both the excess fat and them laying double yolkers are signs that they may be eating too much, including too much protein. It's not just carbohydrates in their feed that they will convert to fat.
     
  3. kfacres

    kfacres Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:actually the double yolkers is quite common when one keeps the FR or CX birds back to try and breed... it's more genetic, not feed based...

    in standard ole chickens, your theory might be... but in chickens that are geared to be ate by 10 weeks of age-- are a completely different story.
     
  4. kfacres

    kfacres Chillin' With My Peeps

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    so basically your saying, that by keeping the FR and breeding them, you really gained no ground in terms of a better meat bird-- as compared to any ole average DP type bird either in meat yield, or days to butcher?
     
  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    I'm not sure it is genetic quite the way you are thinking. When hens get excess protein, they can release an extra yolk. This can lead to double yolked eggs or sometimes two eggs in one day. Sometimes, that second egg can be soft shelled because the shell gland does not have time to make enough material for the second egg. Do these hens also lay more soft shelled eggs than normal?

    Instead of it being a straight genetic propensity to lay double yolked eggs, maybe it is more because genetically they process food more efficiently?
     
  6. krcote

    krcote Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks so much for sharing!
     
  7. jessicayarno

    jessicayarno Chillin' With My Peeps

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    What percentage of protein were they on, and did you offer free choice? Did you use a tractor or let them free range? I think these things make a big difference..
     
  8. Lazy J Farms Feed & Hay

    Lazy J Farms Feed & Hay Chillin' With My Peeps

    How many birds were in this "experiment"?
     
  9. johnsons-r-us

    johnsons-r-us Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Interesting.....for me as I'm going with WR to try and get some meat going this spring. I'm looking forward to the answers to the others' questions.

    Thank you for sharing! This kind of thing helps those of us trying to decide on the "perfect" direction. [​IMG] I know, no such thing..... [​IMG] I had been looking at the FR as an option but didn't know if they would make good layers and could be self sustaining. And is the meat any better than a nice WR?
     
  10. Mrs. Mucket

    Mrs. Mucket Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Answers to questions:

    FEEDING:
    The 2011 chicks were fed Nutrena non-medicated starter/grower (18% protein) for four weeks. Then for about six weeks they were out free ranging with our layers in a 3-acre area with no regular supplemental commercial feed. They were fed kitchen scraps during that time. They grew at a steady rate. For the last six weeks they had free access to Nutrena layer pellets (16%) and wheat but they seemed to prefer free ranging and were still finding stuff to eat in the garden.

    The 2010 hens were part of a flock of 25 meaties. After four weeks on starter/grower they had free choice Nutrena meatbird feed (22%). From 13 weeks to about 12 months they had free choice layer pellets. Then this summer they also free ranged without supplemental feed and had layer pellets/wheat for the last six weeks. When they had free choice they ate a lot and were definitely too fat.

    TRACTORS/FREE RANGE:
    Both groups of chicks were brooded in the barn for four weeks and were outside in tractors for about two weeks before we opened the doors for free ranging. They used the tractors for night and sun shelter.

    # of BIRDS: In 2011 we hatched about 20 chicks. We lost a few to injuries and predators but didn't see any sign of heart or other problems.

    COMPARED TO DP/WR (Johnsons and kfacres): We haven't raised DP, WR, or any other breed for meat so can't compare growth or flavor. What we are looking for is a meat bird that can live to maturity, reproduce on farm, and actively free range. We have gained ground toward what we're looking for, but it wouldn't be what everyone is looking for. I don't know about meat yield for a DP but timewise, the FR are ready as early as 10 weeks. We've processed hatchery FRs at 10 weeks and 13 weeks, and these 16-week-old offspring were ready weeks ago. As for egglaying, the FR are not as prolific as a layer breed but each hen laid 2-3 eggs a week. So they contribute toward earning their keep when we're not hatching their eggs. Yes lots of double yolkers but I can't speak to the genetic vs. too much food. Either could be the case here, though our 2011 pullets have been laying double yolkers and are not really fat.

    We are really happy with the FR so far. They are easy to raise, they forage eagerly, the processing time range is flexible, and they are tasty and meaty. One 5# dressed FR makes three meals for the two of us and the carcass makes a flavorful broth. The FRs are proportioned differently than CX, with long narrow breasts and large hind quarters, but there is plenty of white and dark meat.
     

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