Freedom Rangers in Illinois

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by Life is Good!, Apr 7, 2012.

  1. Life is Good!

    Life is Good! Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 14, 2011
    suburbia Chicagoland
    Our 26 Freedom Ranger chicks shipped from PA on Wednesday, 4/4 - we received them (finally!) today, Saturday 4/7 on the first truck into the Post Office. They are all healthy, cheeping, peeping chicks. This post is to document their lives and what we've done so others (like me!) can read and learn.

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    Their shipping box was surprisingly small - but all fit inside and were warm enough despite our below freezing night. Whew!

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    After getting a couple drinks each (3 dips of each beak and swallows between), the chicks were eager to explore their Brinsea Ecoglow 50 and their new home. Each chick stands about 3" tall to the shoulder. I had mounted their nipple waterer a bit too high (set at 6-7" tall), so emergency back up waterer was placed into their brooder.

    The brooder is a pallet with 2'x4' plywood sides screwed into the pallet. Two layers of cardboard cover the pallet base. A full bag of pine shavings covers the floor at least 2" deep. The Ecoglow is on paper toweling (which seems to limit how much the legs go down into the shavings) for now. I've changed the toweling at evening check and will change 2x/day for these first few days. Likely will stop doing paper toweling under the brooder heater by mid week (5 or 6 days with us) and simply allow the pine shavings to be the base.

    Upon initial examination, there were only 4 or 5 chicks who had the beginnings of wing feathers. However, by the end of the day, I'd estimate that at least 1/2 of the chicks have wing feathers! And those who came with them are nearly fully out! Mercy they grow quick!

    One is 'chickmunk' colored, the others are either strawberry blonde, blond, light brown with blond wings or light brown. It'll be interesting to see what colors come out.

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    We did not attempt to weigh them today. Our smallest scale is a postal scale from the 60's - we'll try next week to start documenting weight gain with our ounce scale.

    So this is our beginnings! Healthy, happy chicks in the barn! Safe from predators. With the Ecoglow, I'm confident they'll be ok in an unheated (but well insulated) situation. They've been doing great all day - popping out to get food and water, dashing under to warm up, scrambling out to run madly around their new surroundings.....They've been a blast to watch, it's truly better than tv! With two windows in their 'room', they'll likely sleep well tonight (full moon though) and start a real day/night schedule thanks to the Ecoglow.
     
  2. birdman1960

    birdman1960 Out Of The Brooder

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    north central cheeseland
    3 days to get to you from pennslowmania??? the postal service cuts must have went into effect....those are some hardy chicks!!
     
  3. jeepguy982001

    jeepguy982001 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    athens, wv
    I'm glad they all made it safe and sound.
     
  4. Life is Good!

    Life is Good! Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 14, 2011
    suburbia Chicagoland
    1 week update:

    All have feathered wings, some fully, some fairly well. Most have itty-bitty tail feathers coming in. They've mostly figured out what their wings are for - and now instead of zooming around the brooder like water-bugs, they zoom AND fly. Funny to watch!

    90% of them have doubled their initial delivery size. There are two or three smaller (hens?) that are growing, but not as quickly as the other birds. Initially 3" tall at shoulder, now about 4" tall at shoulder - hard to measure as they're skittish about the ruler today!

    Average Initial weight, 7 days old: 4oz
    Eating - Agrimaster Grower crumbles, 21%
    Consumed about 2-3 cups per day of crumbles. As youngest son is our 'chick wrangler', he's added feed without my knowledge! But they're not without food!
    Treats of mealworms on day 6 and 7 - wow, are they excited about that! Treat of yogurt this afternoon - not sure about that, they'd rather wear it than nibble it.

    Using Brinsea Ecoglow50 in brooder (love it!). Have raised it to about 5" off surface of pine shavings. Plenty warm enough despite the cool weather here. Not enough feathers to even think about moving out to pen. Will need a cover on brooder by Tuesday, as they've figured out they can 'fly' up to top of Ecoglow. Top of brooder wall isn't that far away! Eep....loose chicks will mean chilled chicks, not good.

    Chick behavior completely normal - they're active, silly little critters. Chest bumping and pecking order is being established as I type. Thus far, no super harsh treatments one to the other - just sort of 'ante-up' behavior. But oh, can they give stink eye! They've figured out hands = treats, but sometimes hands = being picked up. So they are wary of hands, but that ring - oh, now THAT'S interesting! Shiny is good!

    Pictures to be added tonight after evening chores are completed....

    (edited to add details)
     
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2012
  5. Life is Good!

    Life is Good! Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,051
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    181
    Apr 14, 2011
    suburbia Chicagoland
    26 Freedom Ranger chicks, now 14 days old.[​IMG]

    14 days old
    Average weight - 8oz (doubled in a week!)
    Still eating Agrimaster crumbles 21% protein. Now up to 1 1/2 cups 3x/day (so a total of 5 1/2 C a day). These things are HUNGRY and HUGE! Now takes both hands to hold 'em. Have gone through about 2/3 of a bag of feed. Need to get additional bags of feed shortly!

    Fully feathered on wings (most of them). A few are lagging behind in growth, still growing, but perhaps these are hens? Not sure yet. Most have fully feathered tails as well. So flight is now an option. Fun to watch them zoom around the brooder! Instead of just running, now they can run, flap and get some lift too! The more feathered of the bunch are also the 'braver' of the bunch, more willing to peck at new things, more willing to defend the others, etc.

    Weather is now warmer at night, so I'm finding them lying around the Ecoglow, not necessarily under it. I've raised it to nearly full height - just about an inch left on the legs - let's see if that helps 'em any. Otherwise, I'll put out a box for them to snuggle in.

    Covered brooder with chicken wire on day they figured out they could fly. Makes husbandry tasks harder, but keeps 'em safer.

    Have used 1 1/2 bags of pine shavings (1/2 a bag at each change of bedding) - so initial outlay for brooding is $7.50. I don't imagine having to change it again - they'll go out to the tractor before then.

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    Here is the larger chicks with one of the smaller chicks at the feeder. Sorry it's so blurry - they wiggle a lot when they're eating!

    As my tractor is 8x8' - I know that will not be sufficient for the duration of their lives. Consequently, I'm considering building a second tractor - sending the first 13 outdoors, keeping the smaller ones in the brooder an additional week to get bigger and then sending them outdoors as well. Downside to this plan is the additional waterers and feeders which will need tending. Still thinking on all this. Opinoins?!

    Otherwise healthy happy chicks! I couldn't be more pleased.

    Today was their first day outdoors in the sun (so I could change bedding - they're too big to be in there with me working - too many!). Here's a fun picture of ALL of them sunning themselves inside an impromptu wire 'cage'!

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  6. Sundown_Farmer

    Sundown_Farmer Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 2, 2010
    Non-Chicago, Illinois
    Thanks for posting this thread. We are planning to run an alternate meat bird this year and JM is in the running.
     
  7. EweSheep

    EweSheep Flock Mistress

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    Land of Lincoln
    I will be watching this thread, particuarly how much feed they go thru a week or how many bags required to feed from start to finish!
     
  8. Life is Good!

    Life is Good! Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,051
    53
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    Apr 14, 2011
    suburbia Chicagoland
    At 14days, 26 chicks have used about 30#'s out of a 50# bag. I am now feeding at 6am, noon and 5pm - as they have gone through ALL the feed by those times.

    Today, they got 3 eggs scrambled VERY finely (with a fork) as a treat. They did eventually finish it, but only really ate about 2 eggs initially (leftovers anyone?!).

    I'm treating them about every 3rd day, as schedules permit - they've had mealworms, yogurt, more mealworms and today eggs. If I could get to the right store, they'd also have ACV - by alas, I've not yet made it that direction (construction traffic - ARGH!).

    They're up to about a gallon and a 1/2 of water daily. A gallon might stretch until that 6am feeding - but I'm not interested in trying my luck! I think ACV in the water would decrease the amount of water consumed.

    The first tractor will be built a.s.a.p; as they truly are growing out of the 4x4' brooder box. Even with roost bars and stuff to play on, I can tell they're crowded and bored - especially after being outdoors in the sunshine! It's been raining for the past 2 days, so they've had to stay in. Anyone have good ideas on how to keep a large group of chicks entertained?!
     
  9. Life is Good!

    Life is Good! Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,051
    53
    181
    Apr 14, 2011
    suburbia Chicagoland
    21 day update:

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    I've determined that most of our 25 birds are roosters - most have itty-bitty wattles appearing and bright red combs coming in fast. Interestingly enough, the ones I believe are hens are also slower to feather out (their tails are just coming in, where the ones I suspect are roosters are nearly fully feathered already). In the picture above, I clean off the Ecoglow every afternoon. By 7am, that's the state it's in - ewww! So I clean it off while they're feasting on breakfast and again while they're feasting on dinner....chores! More chores! Cannot wait until they get outdoors!

    We seem to have lost one chick. I seriously don't know where, when or how. It's actually keeping me awake trying to figure it out. But I suspect I'll never know.

    Today, at 19days worth of feed (the other 3 days were shipping days), I'm finishing the first 50# bag of feed.

    Average weight: 13 - 16oz.
    Feed consumed per day this past two days: 5-6 cups
    Water consumed per day: 2 1/2 gallons (no it's not spilling either!)

    Growth rate continues to be absolutely phenomenal compared to our Black Java heritage birds. I honestly believe they are growing feathers in front of me! They seem to pack their crops until nearly bursting, then sit down to digest it all. Even in the super short clipped grass, they didn't really forage much, although our Red Admiral butterflies were a lot of fun to watch and chase! I guess I need to scatter scratch in the fenced area for them. I'll need to pick an area that I don't mind it growing up if they don't clean up after themselves. My meadow would quickly become a wheat field!

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    They have truly enjoyed being out in the sunshine for the past day or two. Today is raining, so I'll not get a chance to get them outside, although it would clean off their feet nicely! I am cleaning the brooder out nearly every day - or at least removing the hard crust layer under the Ecoglow. They're not using it for heat, just for protection at night, so I unplugged it a few nights back (4?).

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    Here you can see their early wattles...boys, boys and more boys. Was fun to watch them outside with the various backyard birds who visit our meadow. Nearly ALL would stand up to 'guard' the rest! Does it count if EVERYONE is standing up?! Behavior continues to be very much 'regular' chick....although their lack of interest in green stuff surprises me. I had mowed the grass about 2 hrs before they got outdoors, so there were LOTS of loose grass clippings over their area. Most of the clippings are gone, as are the seed heads on the dandelions - but they for the most part didn't pick at the grass much. Guess they were too full of feed?

    That's this week's update!
     
  10. Life is Good!

    Life is Good! Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,051
    53
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    Apr 14, 2011
    suburbia Chicagoland
    22 days old:

    We're flying! Yes, we've ALL figured out how to get lift-off and some serious air! So now, their open-air outdoor pen is no longer going to work either. The fencing is 48" tall, the t-posts 36" tall and they're clearing at least 30" vertical and 10' horizontal! Yipes!

    Guess I'm making a full-blown tractor tomorrow. Scrounged around the barn to find bits today - I'll post pictures tomorrow....if it gets done as far as I hope it does! Because they really, really need the space (both horizontal and vertical).

    Sunday we're finishing our field fence, the left-overs will become the materials for their run - our Java's need a second run, so this is part of a much bigger chicken project. I hope they can wait! But I know they are growing faster than ever!
     

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