Meat bird assortment? Also Grey Rangers?

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by Ahavati, Dec 9, 2016.

  1. Ahavati

    Ahavati Out Of The Brooder

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    I was browsing through the Meyer Hatchery catalog. We were intending to order grey rangers for our first meat birds. However, we noticed there was a Fry Pan Bargain which I assume is all the roosters that don't get purchased. They're selling them basically .48 cents each (over 50 sold) which would be nice for a quick freezer fill. My questions though are:

    Are those worth buying? Any downsides?

    Can you keep all those roosters together without fighting? (We would keep our meat birds separate from our laying hens)

    I want to keep some pairs of the Grey Rangers to continue to breed and hatch out future meat birds. Is that realistic?
     
  2. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

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    I don't think you'd be happy with dual purpose cockerels- fry pan special. More time and money on feed for less bird and if you leave them to grow longer then a roasting only bird. I could be wrong- have you had and butchered dual purpose birds before? If not then I'd stick with the grey or rainbow broiler. They may not even be to your liking. The CornishX is best for feed to meat conversion and has the double breast your probably used to. You won't know if you like the Ranger broilers until you try.
     
  3. Ahavati

    Ahavati Out Of The Brooder

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    This will be first time butchering. We have dual purpose layers so that we can at least process them when laying diminishes.

    I have read that the rangers are definitely not has huge. I also read that they're lower in saturated fats and higher in omegas than the cornish. Along with the leg problems in the cornish. I have considered getting both the cornish and the rangers and see which we prefer. Am I correct that you can't breed cornish? We do want to eventually be able to raise our own meat birds without buying chicks.
     
  4. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    I'd also advise to go with the rangers.

    the Fry Pan birds would be good for someone who has lots of free range area, and a bulk or cheap source of feed. It's tempting as they have such a lot purchase price, but consider you don't butcher those boys until about 5 months--that's months of feed more than a slow broiler. Plus, you need to house them longer, and there are more potential issues with fighting. And crowing. And, even at 5 months, there's probably going to be just about the same amount of meat you'd get on a slow broiler at 3 months.
     
  5. TroyerGal

    TroyerGal Chillin' With My Peeps

    I would say to go with the rangers... We did a run of the Rangers and the CX this spring. We liked both, but the Rangers had HUGE drumsticks.They grow pretty fast too! [​IMG]
     
  6. Ahavati

    Ahavati Out Of The Brooder

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    Awesome! Thank you for the advice! Glad I posted.

    Can't wait to get us some meat birds!
     
  7. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    I agree with what the others said, I don’t think the dual purpose are for you. I got a few fry pan specials from a feed store last year and was pretty happy with them. You are right, it’s basically dual purpose males they have left over. I happened to get some Buff Orps and some kind of production red. The Orps were fine but the Reds were a little small. But the size wasn’t a big problem for me, I eat a lot of pullets and hens and they are certainly not large. There are only two of us and I can get two meals out of a fairly small pullet or hen. You’ll find out about that when you eat your spent hens.

    I very much like the idea of you trying both the Cornish X and some Rangers. We are all different so see for yourself the pros and cons of both with your set-up and goals. As far as feed to meat conversion you can’t beat the Cornish X but there are some drawbacks. The Cornish X need to be butchered when they are ready, usually around 6 to 8 weeks of age. You can control that some by feeding regimen but they grow so fast that at a certain point they start having leg and skeleton problems or heart problems. They can break down or just die if you wait too long. As I said feeding regimen helps control that. The birds that lay the eggs those birds hatch from are on a restricted feed diet. They are fed just enough to produce fertile eggs but not enough so they get so big they just die.

    The Rangers are not as efficient on feed to meat conversion but you get some more latitude in managing them. So try both and see what you are happier with.

    How much freezer space do you have? 50 birds can fill up a freezer. That’s one reason I do dual purpose, I can wait to butcher them so I have freezer space available. This might be a reason to start small. You can always raise a second batch later in the season if you need to. Another question is how many do you eat in a year? I generally eat one a week but with visits to grandkids and other things I only need a little over 40 per year.

    You mentioned breeding your own. Egghead_jr has a good thread on breeding your own if you can find it. I don’t have a link but it is interesting reading. A lot has to do with your goals. I like dual purpose butchered around 5 months or so. Egghead’s stated goal is 14 weeks so early meat gain is more important than for me. You need to determine what your goals are so you can aim for them. Once you get some experience you may find your goals change.

    I have not done it myself but there are several threads on here about people keeping Cornish X or Rangers, sometimes to try to breed their own or sometimes just to keep them, sometimes restricting feed and sometimes not. Most people are not happy with the results but some are. The approach that seems most successful most often is to keep hens and breed them to a dual purpose rooster for hatching eggs to water down that fast growth to a more sustainable level. The roosters can get so big they have trouble mating if they live that long. The hens tend to not live that long either but sometimes you can get hatching eggs.

    I personally like Egghead’s approach, breed your own to meet your specific goals. But you may find the best approach for you is to buy chicks, either Cornish X or Rangers. It just depends on your goals, set-up, and how you want to approach it. We are all unique.
     
  8. Ahavati

    Ahavati Out Of The Brooder

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    Thank you SO much for all that great advice!! We actually have 2 deep freezers, one is a huge one that came with the house we bought. We also have 6 kiddos so we tend to go through meat a little bit haha. We eventually want to be more self-sustainable so that is why I was looking into breeding them. I will definitely look for that thread. I think in that aspect we may just have to try some things and learn what will work best. We chose mostly dual purpose so that we could at least get some decent meat when they were done laying. But we have some others thrown in there too.
     
  9. tbascom

    tbascom New Egg

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    i started my first dual-purpose flock with 2 golden laced wyandotte (1 a rooster), 2 silver laced wyandotte, 2 speckled english sussex, and 1 each delaware and austrolorpe. all met my basic requirements that they be good year-round egg producers, extremely cold-hardy for my vermont winters, and at least somewhat broody. at the start of my second summer, i had come to like the sussex most of all - an intelligent, friendly, curious, and docile bird - so i raised 3 batches of 25 females in moveable pens as meat birds. by the end of the summer i had become fed up with the wyandotte rooster and had fallen in love with the sussex; so, because i also had a male in my last batch of meat sussex, i butchered the original mixed flock, and kept 10 sussex hens and the rooster to become my permanent dual purpose flock. they are a delight, and i only have to remind the rooster who is king of the pen about every two or three months. generally, if i give him something to do while i'm collecting eggs, feeding and watering, and keeping the hen house cleaned, he leaves me alone. so that's when i take out the kitchen compostables and dump it in the deep woodchip run for the birds to pick through while i'm working in the hen house. only if the hens get curious enough to come see what i'm up to will he come along and periodically try to show me he's really king of the roost. he learns not much more easily than did the wyandotte.

    summer 2016 i raised the english sussex meat birds on field grasses and free access to local vermont-produced organic broiler feed. when i slaughtered the first batch at 12 weeks, their dressed out weights ran from 2.25 to 3 lbs; when i butchered the second batch at 16 weeks, their dressed weights ran from 2.5 to 3.0 lbs; when i butchered the third batch at 18 weeks, their dressed weights ran from 3.0-3.5 lbs. when i butchered the original flock at about 16 months (about 66 weeks), the two sussex hens weighed about 5 lbs each.

    those who say heritage birds don't have a great feed to meat conversion ratio are quite correct. if your main goal is meat, the quickly growing cross is probably better. i won't raise them because of their health and structure problems. i think it's unethical and unnatural. (i understand: that's just my opinion.) this summer i will try the rangers to see if i can get more weight in the same or less time.

    for my permanent flock, i can't be happier with my english sussex. they live in an enclosed house and run because of all of the predators we have here, but with plenty of room. i could grow my flock to 20 birds without cramping them, and will do so by letting them go broody. (last spring I had two hens go broody - a sussex and the austrolorpe; between them they produced 5 chicks, 2 males; ugly as sin with their mixed parentage.) this flock of 10 provides me an average 5 eggs a day, right through this very cold vermont winter and with no added heat or light. their offspring will be just as pretty. they also like to fly a bit, so i will install some perches and swings in their run when the weather warms.

    if you want a dual purpose permanent flock that will reproduce itself, i'm a big fan of the speckled english sussex. if you want to raise meat over the summer for your freezer or to sell, i think the rangers may be a better option, although it will be summer 2017 when i test that theory for myself. but you certainly won't get the highly efficient conversion ratio of the fast-growing cross.

    my main goal is to secure chicken meat i want to eat; my secondary goal is to grow enough extra birds to pay all of my expenses for raising my own meat and egg birds. going into year two i have enough present and interested future customers to be able to do that at the price i need to charge (about $4.50/lb) for these slower growing, better quality birds.

    last year i apprenticed to a chicken abbatoir who butchered on my property; this year i will butcher my own. saving the money i spent on having someone else butcher my chickens will pay off the equipment i need to do it myself in 2 years. i will also be equipped to butcher for my rural neighbors who grow their own summer and fall meat flocks, if i want to make a few extra dollars close to home.
     
  10. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

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    Howdy fellow Green Mountain Boy!

    Those dress weights aren't bad at all for a hatchery bird. You'd get a bit better meat wise with standard bred but in reality if showing or the standard is not in your interest simply breeding the best of what you have will provide faster growing/ better carcass birds. The hatchery birds you have lay better than a standard bred would. Myself am a sucker for standard bred and raise one variety of the Plymouth Rock up here in the Northeast Kingdom. Couldn't ask for a better behaved bunch of birds. Never have to worry about bending over or turning my back on the boys.

    Here's a good article for how to evaluate potential breeders for future generation improvement:

    http://www.livestockconservancy.org/images/uploads/docs/ALBCchicken_assessment-1.pdf
     

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