Have a lot of Newbie questions!!!

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by Chicka T, Oct 2, 2013.

  1. Chicka T

    Chicka T Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 2, 2013
    So, I've been wanting to keep chickens for egg and meat for about a year now. I've decided to go ahead and take the plunge in Spring. I know which dual purpose chickens I want to get, but right now, my question is specifically about the chickens I want to raise for meat only. I don't think I want Cornish X's or a hybrid bird (Freedom Rangers, etc), as I need a bird that can be 100% free range, have good coloring for predators, and because I'm still on the fence about Cornish X's. I live in the North, so a somewhat cold hardy bird would best.

    So my real questions:

    1) What is the fastest growing heritage breed bird that would be free range?
    2) I just need to get them to around 5 lbs with a descent amount of meat--Any thoughts on Jersey Giant?)
    3) Can Cornish X's be totally free range?
    4) How old till a rooster will start to crow? I would need to process before that age

    All advice will be greatly appreciated!
     
  2. redchickenguy

    redchickenguy Out Of The Brooder

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    Sep 28, 2013
    I had freedom rangers this summer and they weighed 4 pounds after butchering. one thing i want to say is if you do free rang them you should get a big net to catch them with they are fast. and i butchered mine at the age of 9 or ten weeks and they never crowed. my uncle had cornish x and he did not like them they tasted good but they where not nice (or pretty). i would get 2 different breeds of chickens one for eggs and one for meat.



    Ps the chicken in the pic is a rhode island red not a freedom ranger
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2013
  3. Chicka T

    Chicka T Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks for replying! I guess I'm just leaning more towards getting heritage birds. And I really want to know which are the fastest growing ones---and how fast?
     
  4. ChocolateMouse

    ChocolateMouse Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Cornish crosses can absolutely free range. Check out the free ranging Cornish cross thread. XD Mine reached 8lbs at 9.5 weeks in tractors on fermented feed. And boy can they still move quick...!
     
  5. Chicka T

    Chicka T Out Of The Brooder

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    Sorry, I'm still learning the terminology! :) I guess by 100% free range, I mean grass fed? Basically no commercial feed if possible. Just not so sure if it can be done in the Northern states in winter. I definitely have to look up fermented feed. Maybe I can do that with different grains. I'm doing water kefir now for myself, so I understand the whole lacto-fermentation process. I just want them to have a 100% natural diet--grass, bugs, food scraps, etc.... Can you raise a chicken without any commercial feed year round?
     
  6. Buster52

    Buster52 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    You could find a feed mill and have your feed mixed from local grains. That's how we prefer it. I wouldn't try to raise birds without it.
     
  7. Chicka T

    Chicka T Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks! I didn't know that! I've looked up the prices for corn-soy free feed, and of course they're pretty expensive. I would love to be able to ferment my own grain mix to supplement the forage/scraps/etc they'd receive.

    As for heritage birds...I'm guessing that their really isn't one that could get processed before 4 months old and have a descent amount of meat?
     
  8. Buster52

    Buster52 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Maybe 4, but the youngest I have processed dp birds is 20 weeks.

    I don't ferment. Looks like a lot of extra work for little return. But if you have the time...
     
  9. redchickenguy

    redchickenguy Out Of The Brooder

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    I had my mix of layers free rang for a little bit and they barely ate any food at all, but when i free ranged the meat birds they still ate a lot of food. They didn't do much forging but the meat still tasted great.
     
  10. Mass Mike

    Mass Mike Out Of The Brooder

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    Just chiming in about my experience with crowing. In our last batch of freedom rangers we had several roos. The largest 2 started crowing at about 8 weeks. I'm not sure if it is that same for all breeds but the ranger roos kind of worked themselves into their crow....meaning that for the first week or so they gave this low volume, warbly half-crow...we joked that it sounded a bit like a battery powered crowing rooster toy that the batteries were dying on. We processed at 10 weeks 3 days old and at that time they were getting the hang of crowing but still at a much lower volume than a full fledged crow.
    have fun!
     

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