Freedom Rangers and Fermented Feed - A Pastured Poultry Experiment

travifive

In the Brooder
6 Years
Mar 27, 2013
70
10
33
Abita Springs, LA
We have Freedom Rangers coming in three weeks and I think I want to try out what I've been reading about fermented feed. But first, I need to get some details straight. I think I understand how to make fermented feed from all the threads on BYC and the videos on Youtube. Where I'm drawing blanks is on quantity of feed and freshness. When raising Cornish Cross I kept feed open access for the first 3 weeks then dropped back to 12 on/12 off for the next week then back to 24hr access until slaughter. When my birds come in should I just experiment to see how much they can eat and keep adding until I see leftovers? Which brings me to the next question. How long can you leave fermented feed in the trough before it has to be cleaned out. I know while making it you have to keep it below the surface of the water to prevent mold from forming due to aerobic bacteria growth so surely I can't just leave it in the trough until the next day. But maybe I'm wrong. Please help! I want to have a solid plan for feed in place for when they arrive.

Also, everything I'm reading says that I should expect 4 to 5 lbs live weight at 9 to 11 weeks. I'm willing to wait to process at 12 to 14 weeks to achieve a higher carcass weight. While talking to someone who processes more than a 1500 per week I found out that they expect 4.5-4.8lbs carcass weight at 11 weeks. The details on feed associated with these numbers have been lacking so I figured I should try this out for my self. . I am sold on the health benefits of fermented feed from everything I've read so regardless of the results it will be worth while.

Here are the details of the experiment:

25 Freedom Rangers will be placed in my brooder house with fermented feed (amounts ?) and constant water via nipple watering system. I will be using a non-medicated starter crumble 20% and slowly transitioning to a gamebird crumble 26% by 3 weeks. At three weeks they will move to the chicken tractor in the pasture. I will move them at least once a day. We have at least ten different types of grasses and clover in the pasture. They will also have a constant supply of fermented feed and water. I will try to take live weights from week to week. At week 12 I will begin processing the largest of the birds and working my way down to the smaller ones by week 14. The smallest of the flock (those under 4lbs live weight) will be sold as layers at 14 weeks. All roos will end up in the freezer as of right now.

Hypothesis:

That higher carcass weights, even 5lbs, can be achieved by keeping birds confined to a pasture pen while feeding fermented feed. The pasture pen should cut down on calorie burn, while moving the pen to fresh pasture every day should keep the amount of protein from bugs high. Fermented feed will increase the amount of nutrients absorbed thus increasing carcass weight.


One last question. If you are using fermented feed is there added benefit to adding ACV to the water?

Oh, and there will be lots and lots of pictures added as this experiment unfolds.
 

Sally_O

In the Brooder
9 Years
Aug 4, 2010
52
6
48
Kentucky
Looking forward to following your experiment! We are on our first broilers CX so details and pix please!

How do you make your fermented feed? We've been wetting ours with water and a bit of vinegar, then draining but not really fermenting -- just no time to do that with 50 hungry broilers.
 

travifive

In the Brooder
6 Years
Mar 27, 2013
70
10
33
Abita Springs, LA
How do you make your fermented feed? We've been wetting ours with water and a bit of vinegar, then draining but not really fermenting -- just no time to do that with 50 hungry broilers.
The instructions I've gathered online (anyone should feel free to correct me if im wrong) are to set up a 5gal bucket with several small holes drilled in the bottom for drainage and place it within another 5gal bucket to catch the runoff. I will most likely make 3 seperate ones and fill each one with approximately one day worth of feed. You then add enough water to cover the feed, adding more when needed to keep the feed covered and add apple cider vinegar with mother intact. The amount of ACV doesn't seem to be critical. Most instructions say 2 or 3 glugs (how's that for scientific) so I'm going to wing it. You have to stir the mixture a couple times a day to make sure the good bacteria is evenly distributed and then cover with a cloth. I'm going to do 3 setups because they say it takes 3 days for it to properly ferment. So, one per day and I will just rotate them out.

I'm getting very excited about this little project so I think I will get my stuff setup in the next week and start making very small batches of FF for my layers so I can get the hang of it first. As I set things up I will take some pics to help explain what I'm doing.

When I did my last batch of broilers, it was 50 also, I was up to about 5 gallons of feed a day at 5 weeks so I think the 5gal bucket setup would work well for that number.

Joel Salatin said in his book "Pastured Poultry Profits" that "the world runs on 5 gallon buckets". I'm starting to think he's right. :)
 

aroo2many

In the Brooder
6 Years
Travifive - I don't have any experience w/ FF but this is my 3rd year w/ FR birds My birds have dressed out easily at 5lbs at 10-11 weeks. Last year I averaged 5.375lb w/ 24 birds. My 8 bigger roosters dressed out between 5lb 12oz and 7lb 3oz. I will begin this years harvest next Tuesday starting w/the larger Roos I've read good things about FF, it'll be interesting to follow your results.
 

travifive

In the Brooder
6 Years
Mar 27, 2013
70
10
33
Abita Springs, LA
Travifive - I don't have any experience w/ FF but this is my 3rd year w/ FR birds My birds have dressed out easily at 5lbs at 10-11 weeks. Last year I averaged 5.375lb w/ 24 birds. My 8 bigger roosters dressed out between 5lb 12oz and 7lb 3oz. I will begin this years harvest next Tuesday starting w/the larger Roos I've read good things about FF, it'll be interesting to follow your results.


Wow! Those are awesome results! Maybe I will be able to shorten my expected processing time. I've only done Cornish cross and heritage breeds. So I wasn't sure what the middle ground was going to look like. The hatchery (freedom ranger hatchery) sent me a week by week weight gain and feed conversion chart that has results very similar to yours. Now I really can't wait for them to get here. This is going to be great!
 

aroo2many

In the Brooder
6 Years
400

These guys are 9.5 weeks old. They've really filled out in the past week. I think you will be very happy w/your birds.
I'd love to see the weekly feed conversion chart. Can you post it?
 
Last edited:

ChickenoftheVI

In the Brooder
6 Years
Feb 21, 2013
25
0
29
St. Croix, US Virgin Islands
I have 24 Freedom Rangers (ones from Cackle Hatchery). They are 9.5 weeks now. I've had them on FF from the day I got them in the mail (had to sprinkle dry on top of the FF to get them started). I have had them in a 16'x8' tractor from 2 weeks old. I gave them 24hour access to FF (30% protein) for the first 4 weeks, I switched to 12 on, 12 off for 2 weeks. @ 6 weeks to current, they're on 22% protein feed. I weighed at 8 weeks (biggest rooster/biggest hen) roo was 6lb 7oz live weight and the pullet was 5lb 9oz live weight. I haven't gotten around to weighing them for their 9th week yet. but I know the roo has gotten bigger (at least a lb by they way he feels) as well as the hen. So, definitely if you keep them confined, they'll gain faster. I'm gonna keep the big hen and breed her with my dark Cornish roo. He's 2 years old approx. 12 lbs. (he's been confined until about 3 months ago.
 

aroo2many

In the Brooder
6 Years
I've been trying to figure out how I can weight them live. We don't have a bathroom scale, but do have an older style fish scale. Maybe if I put them in a 5 gal bucket and hang that from the scale. (??) Probably should have started that from the beginning. I doubt they'd be agreeable to sitting in a bucket now. LOL! How do you weight yours? Also, did you keep track of how many pounds of feed you have gone through? I'm guessing that you are fermenting the commercial pelleted chicken feed (?) I must say, I don't agree with confining the birds to such a small space. Twentyfour 6+lb birds in 128 sq feet seems very crowded, and messy. When my birds 'free range' they are not running laps around the pasture burning off pounds. I think it's healthier for them to have the space to stretch out and flap thier wings.
 

ChickenoftheVI

In the Brooder
6 Years
Feb 21, 2013
25
0
29
St. Croix, US Virgin Islands
I weigh them with a digital scale. Ive been doing it from day 1. They seem to trust me, so when i take them out they dont put up a fuss when i steady them on it. Im actually in the process of building a bigger tractor this weekend, so i can switch them over to it for their last couple weeks. The hen, ill be moving her to the main coop with the others (white leghorns and barred rocks). I really didnt keep track of the feed because i was feeding them along with 25 other chicks from the same FF bucket. I feed them in a 5' trough still feeder that is about 4" deep. I fill it half way up, and they eat all of that now within about 15 min, then i refill it. Tat second one usually lasts then at least 3 more hours. They usually start eating grass after they fill their crops with the FF. yes its the commercial pellets that i Ferment. Here in the Virgin Islands theres not that much of a choice when it comes to chicken feeds. To get the 22%, i have to mix the 30% feed with 15% grower... Otherwise i couldnt use straight grower for them. Even with the layers i have, it only has 15% protein... The girls had started picking feathers until i started fermenting their feed... Then that stopped.
 

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom