Freedom Rangers in Illinois

Life is Good!

Songster
8 Years
Apr 14, 2011
1,179
222
226
suburbia Chicagoland
Lesson learned - if processing in small batches (due to time constraints) and you're down to just a few last hens, KEEP A ROO! We've got 7 hens left. This morning, we had 1 roo and 11 hens - so today, we processed the biggest ones - the roo and 4 big hens.

Tonight, the remaining hens cannot figure out how to put themselves to bed! This hasn't been a problem at ALL since they went to pasture at 3wks! So, it's now dark - and I'm carrying 7-8# birds to their covered tractor for the night. Gads.....silly girls!

Also, as if the local hawk population knows it - a pair of Red tailed are circling our meadows. They've not been spotted here since very early last spring, when they determined this wasn't a prime 'fishing' spot. I'm hoping it has stayed that way - but the poor hens are petrified. First their roo is removed, and now hawks?! Bad day at Field Farm for these hens....
 

kizanne

Songster
8 Years
Mar 28, 2011
1,174
56
161
Tallahassee, FL
I feel your pain. My set up for my CX's was a large pen and a generous coop. I though wow my meaties while not free ranging will still have a great 8 weeks. Well 5 weeks after they exit the brooder.

But the coop door is about 3 feet off the ground and they never could figure out or be willing to walk up the ramp. They would come out and lay around in the grass but not up the ramp at night.

Me, my daughter and my hubby broke our backs picking up 25 - 8 pound birds. Due to other things arising some of ours got butchered later than they should have and they were monsters dressing out at 8 pounds. So we were lifting some 11 pound birds up.

This is why I might try the freedom rangers. I'll keep in mind your sage advice about leave a roo. Of course I'm going to do some cross experiments before a batch of freedom rangers. But I'm following your thread til the end cause I always try to learn from others.
 

Life is Good!

Songster
8 Years
Apr 14, 2011
1,179
222
226
suburbia Chicagoland
All finished processing.

The hens are truly different to process than the roos.

What we noticed:
The hens have more internal connective tissue. It was harder to get to the main cavity due to these connective bands. The roos had a natural 'space' in which a hand fit pretty well. Not so with the hens.

The roos had pretty good sized wattles by their day, so husband was able to hold onto wattles to help keep head stable during bleed out.

The hens also have shorter necks, making it more challenging to find the veins. Husband was the one doing the deed and noticed problems finding the vein with the first hen. Thought it was just a fluke. Nope. Most of the hens gave him trouble.

The hens had many more, smaller, feathers - not sure if they were molting their adult coats or why...but the hens were fuzzy! Which meant more water use to rinse off, more cleaning time in the house (they stuck EVERYWHERE!), more clean-up around the processing table at the end of the day - little bitty fluffy feathers all over. I think I'll find their feathers for weeks!

The last hen had to say goodbye just before being bled - not sure whether or not to the other chickens (Java's were their neighbors through a fence) - but it wrenched husband's heart. They were such incredible guests in our lives. Now to make some seriously tasty meals with their carcasses to give honor to them all.

I'll post final statistics in the a.m......a wee bit tired after all this work today and tonight.
 

Life is Good!

Songster
8 Years
Apr 14, 2011
1,179
222
226
suburbia Chicagoland
The promised finished stats for our 25 Rangers:

Processed at 10wks4days (biggest boys first)
1 roo: 7#2oz live; 4#0oz finished
2 roo: 6#4oz live; 3#4oz finished

Processed at 10wks 5days (next biggest boys)
3 roo: 7#2oz live; 4#0oz finished
4 roo: 7#0oz live; 4#4oz finished
5 roo: 6#12oz live; 4#0oz finished
6 roo: 7#2oz live; 4#2oz finished
7 roo: 7#2oz live; 4#4oz finished
8 roo: 6#12oz live; 4#4oz finished

Processed at 11wks0days (last boys)
9 roo: 7#0oz live; 3#8oz finished
10 roo: 7#4oz live; 4#2oz finished
11 roo: 7#0oz live; 3#8oz finished
12 roo: 6#12oz live; 4#0oz finished
13 roo: 6#0oz live; 3#4oz finished

Processed at 11wks1days (biggest girls)
14 roo: 8#0oz live; 4#8oz finished
15 hen: 6#14oz live; 4#0oz finished
16 hen: 7#8oz live; 4#4oz finished
17 hen: 6#12oz live; 3#12oz finished
18 hen: 6#8oz live; 3#8oz finished

Processed at 11wks4days (everyone's out of the pool)
19 hen: 6#2oz live; 3#8oz finished
20 hen: 6#0oz live; 3#8oz finished
21 hen: 6#14oz live; 3#8oz finished
22 hen: 6#2oz live; 3#6oz finished
23 hen: 5#12oz live; 3#4oz finished
24 hen: 5#13oz live; 3#2oz finished
25 hen: 5#12oz live; 3#0oz finished

I did find that for us, for what we fed them, that waiting until 11wks or beyond would have been better in terms of quantity of meat. However, the quantity of feed consumed (and therefore excreted) was more than I could handle at the time what with three broodies all due to hatch at this same time, conflicts in scheduling (i.e. life) and other matters meant that we processed some before they were really really ready. However, I find their weights to be acceptable for our table. Feed conversion and cost analysis will come next. (Need to have some time to dig out the receipts to add to the database!).
 
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