Freedom Ranger experience and feed #s

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by valdalefarm, Aug 13, 2011.

  1. valdalefarm

    valdalefarm Out Of The Brooder

    24
    0
    22
    Apr 10, 2011
    Just processed our first batch of Freedom Rangers. I've been recording their feed intake since getting them to get a sense of their feed efficiency, and now have the results. We started with 102 birds (ordered 100, FR hatchery sent 2 extra), and lost 7 or 8 in the brooder, I think from overcrowding. Only lost 1 that I know of once we put them outside, it looks like it got on the wrong side of the electric netting and got zapped too much trying to get back in. "User Error" aside, they seem to be a hardy bird (none of the random deaths of leg problems we saw with our 50 CX, only 35 of which made it to processing day!)

    We raised them out on our cow pastures in the electric netting, setting up a new paddock for them about every week. The pasture quality wasn't great; cows had clipped a heavily white clover pastured pretty short, but then it didn't regrow much at all with the height and dry spell that coincided with the FRs going out on it. The FRs were fed Poulin 20% Broiler Crumbles not quite free choice - they were fed in late afternoon on average and would run out sometime late morning or early afternoon. Their rate of intake by about week 6 or 7 was around 3 bags of feed over 4 days.

    We processed 60 of them (randomly selected) this past Sunday at 10 weeks of age. We recorded the dressed weights for half of them, and they ranged from about 3.5 pounds with a few up to 5.5 pounds. The average weight for them came out to 4.6 pounds. Freedom Ranger Hatchery notes their are 3 strains of FRs; I noticed the "Tricolor" variety (red type feathering fading into barred type in the legs) to be the largest, the "Yellow" (a sort of buff-red) to be the smallest, and the "Redbro" (red type, and the majority of the birds) to fall in the middle.

    Up to the 10 weeks, I fed them 33 bags of (50#) feed (3 bags of 28%, then transitioning to the 20%). So,
    33 bags x 50 pounds = 1650 pounds feed
    1650 pounds feed / 92 birds (might be 94) = 17.9 pounds feed per bird
    17.9 pounds feed / 4.6 pounds avg weight = 3.9 pounds feed per pound dressed gain

    That's almost a 4:1 feed conversion ratio, which strikes me as high compared to what I expected based on other readings. At roughly 26 cents a pound for my feed, that's $1/pound costs to grow. We are selling ours at market for $3.50 a pound, so it is still profitable but it puts our hourly wage lower than planned for.


    My Questions:
    I'm curious what others have experienced the FR efficiency to be? As mentioned, their pasture was not lush, but at the same time I did not see them foraging much for what was available. On some of the relatively cooler mornings and evenings they'd scratch around some, but they did a fair about of walk-to-feeder-walk-back-to-shade thing.

    They didn't have 24/7 feed as mentioned. Should I further restrict feed and force to to graze more? Or would they just grow less/slower instead? I had visited another farm that raises around 800 FRs a year, who claimed they feed 90lbs of feed for 450 birds a day. I was doing almost half that for 1/4 the birds! FYI, I visited on a fairly cool, overcast day, and his FRs weren't very active either.

    I also have a set of Rosambro from MT-DI Hatchery going to, and recording their feed as well. They are super hardy as well, have only lost I think one bird, the day after we received them. I'm going to process some of them at 9 weeks, along with the remaining FRs which will be at 13 weeks (for roasters). Will be interesting to compare.
     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2011
  2. Tracydr

    Tracydr Chillin' With My Peeps

    Did you noticed any feed wastage? I realized the neighborhood doves were eating over half my feed.I've resorted to feeding my last three cornish cross in a crazy arrangement of a dog crate covered by bird netting, which they had to learn to go in. This has drastically reduced my daily feed waste.
    I need to have a small chicken door made into my coop for my layers, as well. Had at least 100 doves fly out the chicken coop door the other day! Too bad I can't use a shotgun in town, we'd be eating all kinds of dove, come dove season!
     
  3. Two Creeks Farm

    Two Creeks Farm Chillin' With My Peeps

    879
    9
    123
    Apr 23, 2011
    Hedgesville, WV
    I dont think the FR convert feed to weight gain near as well as the Cornish and in that regard, maybe the amount of feed they were eating was passing on through as it were, without the advantage of the weight/mass gain. Mine are at 10 weeks and would easily meet your averages(Tri and Red) on a scant amount of food as compared to yours. We have had drought here, infact the past 6 weeks the grass crunched under your feet. Rain the past week has brought the green back and they are like lawnmowers!

    I wish the buff FR's werent sent, they are mostly way behind the other 2 types and will force a second butchering a few weeks after the majority are in the freezer. I am considering penning them up and feeding them a higher protien just to see if i can bring them inline or close to a 3.5 or 4 lb carcass.

    More CX's will be here around labor day......back to the meatie express!
     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2011
  4. moonsynth

    moonsynth Out Of The Brooder

    31
    3
    24
    Jun 14, 2011
    Thanks for posting your FR experience. I have 50 6 weeks olds now. I'm also raising them in electric netting. I built an a-frame out of 2x4 and put tyvek house wrap over it as a roof. I was just wondering what kind of shelter you use on pasture. I'm doing this for the first time and just trying to expand my options for next year, as I think the shelter I built is getting a little tight for them now that they are getting big. How much room do you use per chicken in the shelter? Also, do you have their feed inside the shelter? Thanks!
     
  5. RS

    RS Out Of The Brooder

    39
    0
    32
    Jun 6, 2010
    Ashtabula, Ohio
    What does the carcass look like? Our fair only allows white meat birds, because they say the colored birds don;t look as nice. Any thoughts? Pictures? I was thinking of getting a dozen to try.
     
  6. Mrs. Mucket

    Mrs. Mucket Chillin' With My Peeps

    358
    28
    121
    May 3, 2010
    Pacific Northwest
    Quote:I'm not the OP but I'll tell you about our shelters. We built some that can be used as mobile enclosed tractors or stationary open field shelters. They are 4'x8' and 24/36" tall with one solid end, one hinged door end, and 8" draft guards all around the base. Roofs are partly solid and partly hardware cloth for day use (open part is for more sunlight). For night shelter use we cover the hardware cloth part for more weather protection. They have partial sides on one end and for night use we loosely hang tarps on the sides for wind protection. Feeders are not in there but we do have nipple waterers that hang from the top or side and don't take up any floor space. We've had 25 FRs grow out in them since they only use them at night or for daytime cover and they prefer to pile together to sleep.
     
  7. moonsynth

    moonsynth Out Of The Brooder

    31
    3
    24
    Jun 14, 2011
    Thanks for the info, what do you kind of feeders do you feed with? I'm using two 30lb hanging feeders inside the shelter. This works well with little waste, but feeding them outside would be easier for me, and give the chickens more room, which they could probably use. Also, My chickens have been sleeping outside lately. It has been 85 during the day and 65 at night. Is this normal?
     
  8. valdalefarm

    valdalefarm Out Of The Brooder

    24
    0
    22
    Apr 10, 2011
    TY Two Creeks Farm on your own experience; I knew FRs wouldn't be as efficient as CXs but didn't expect this. The Hatchery suggests they should have about a 2.7:1 feed ratio. I also didn't think they could eat more than they could handle, so to speak, but perhaps that's what's going on. The carcasses looked nice, a little less "breasty." There was very little fat. Between that and the feed eaten, I also wondered if perhaps they needed more energy (fat and carbs) rather than protein - thus eating more high-protein feed just to get the energy from it?

    I used two kinds of shelters within the electric netting. Both were roughly 8x8 feet on skids, made out of 2x4s. Some of the lumber was our own rough cut, so it was actually 2x4 inches; when we ran out, we used some purchased lumber that is actually 1.5 x 3.5 inches, which is a little too flimsy IMO. I think a 3x3 would actually be ideal for this size. One type was an open sided shed-type structure, just some framing with a slanted metal roof atop; these held our low pressure bell waterers. The other type was much simpler to make, it was just an 8x8 square made from 2x4s - 2 2x4 skids connected by 2 2x4s braces. Then I used 12 foot corrugated metal which I attached to the inside edge of the brace, then curved in over to the inside edge of the other side, making a corrugated metal hoop structure. I don't have pictures on hand, but will try to post them. For feeders I built shallow wooden troughs, as well as using some unused plastic window box planters (which got tipped a lot, I ended up framing a base for them). I generally checked on the birds sometime in the afternoon, to feed and make sure the waters were all working. The bell style waters connected to a low-pressure water line is a great timesaver!
     
  9. moonsynth

    moonsynth Out Of The Brooder

    31
    3
    24
    Jun 14, 2011
    Do you just put the trough feeders outside? What do you do when it rains? Do you worry about them pooping in the food, cleaning feeders constantly? I wanted to do trough feeders because I could build them with scrap, but I'm new at this and was scarred of the food getting wet. I thought they would take up too much space inside also.
     
  10. valdalefarm

    valdalefarm Out Of The Brooder

    24
    0
    22
    Apr 10, 2011
    Once the chicks were big enough that they were outside, and with the feeders 4-5 inches high, poop hasn't been an issue. Nor rain; they eat everything that is given within the day, and even if it rains they eat the wet food regardless. So they go outside the shelters, and I've taken to put them opposite the shelters so the chickens at least have to walk out to them [​IMG]
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by