We did it! Thanks to BYC posters

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by BridgeTea, Nov 21, 2009.

  1. BridgeTea

    BridgeTea Out Of The Brooder

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    Nov 21, 2009
    Michigan
    We have 20 Colored Rangers chilling on ice tonight. [​IMG] And it's all because of you folks, so thank you for posting all your ideas and advice because you never know who might be out there following along! We couldn't have done it without you.

    These are our first meaties. Our only other bird experience is a couple of banties and some Pekin ducks. We keep these for yard ornaments and eggs, and we've only had them 18 months. Well those birds have a good size coop and run they share, so we figured we'd try the Rangers, too.

    Here's how it went:

    Researched on BYC [​IMG] and ordered 25 Rangers from JMHatchery. They shipped 26, and all of them lived. We put molasses in the water for a few days, then apple cider vinegar. Used unmedicated feed, 20% starter/grower the whole time. Almost lost one at 2 weeks, when she probably got squished. Found her laying on her side and lethargic. We dunked her beak
    in molasses water several times, then some yogurt, then quarantined her overnight so she could catch her breath. She made it!

    The brooder was just a corner of the coop with the red heat bulb. Started at 90* but quickly went down to 75*. They were plenty warm and started exploring the outside run by 3 weeks. Then we had non-stop rain, so I had to keep them in the coop for a couple of weeks longer then I would have liked. They had lots of room to run around in there, though.

    Once they were larger than the banties and it stopped raining, they spent most of the time out in the big run with the banties and the duck. The gate is open anytime I am home, so everybody is free to leave the run to roam the fields. Some of the rangers met me at the gate each day and seemed to enjoy exploring the fields, although they didn't venture near as far as the older birds and needed help finding home in the evening. Not a whole lot of scratching going on, but they definitely ran around in spurts and stretched their wings for fun. Then they'd usually find a sunny place in the dry grass and take a nap. They were fun to watch because they were so big they kind of rock back and forth running. They ate quite a bit of grass, but they had all the feed they wanted all day so they really weren't working too hard to get food.

    Anyway, they were not too hard to raise at all. The banty hens stayed at the top of the pecking order. Cracked us up to see one little banty able to walk up to the feed pan and a dozen Rangers freak out and scatter. Yes, they shared the 20% feed.

    Soooo....we raised 26 Rangers. 20 were processed today in 2+ hours. Killing cones, slit the arteries, dunked and ran through the plucker we borrowed. They came out clean! Pulled a few pin feathers with big tweezers, cleaned them out, and dropped them in cold water in a giant new trash can. Ran a cold hose on them all day, now they are covered in ice and water. Rock salt in the water.

    No weights but I am pleased with the size I am seeing. We processed at 11 weeks. I already know how to spend less next time (less bedding and don't buy feed by the bag!) Overall, it was a great project and if they taste as good as they look we'll do this from now on! I've got a great run for birds, but meaties should go in a tractor, I think. We'll probably build one next time.

    That's enough for now. Thank you for holding our hands through this project. You didn't even know you helped, did you?!

    (I'll have questions for how to manage the lucky remaining 6 that are sleeping soundly in the coop tonight.)
     
  2. TipsyDog

    TipsyDog Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 14, 2009
    Aregua, Paraguay
    [​IMG] Congrats! Good job.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2009
  3. 4-H chicken mom

    4-H chicken mom Overrun With Chickens

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    Aug 3, 2007
    Oberlin, OH
    They will taste so good too. Meat birds are the easiest to raise I think. We butcher ours at 9lbs. usually in 8-9 weeks. Congrats. on a job well done. [​IMG]
     
  4. Sunny Side Up

    Sunny Side Up Count your many blessings...

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    Mar 12, 2008
    Loxahatchee, Florida
    Here's your official [​IMG] although it's obvious you've been here reading for quite some time. That's a wonderfully impressive job you all did with these meaties, and a great first post to the forum!
    [​IMG] Be sure to call us in for dinner! [​IMG]
     
  5. BridgeTea

    BridgeTea Out Of The Brooder

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    Nov 21, 2009
    Michigan
    Hey, thanks for the welcome, all! I wish we could have done a larger batch. Not that I have freezer space for them all, but because I just keep thinking of friends I'd like to share chicken dinner with. Then they can get hooked on the flavor and we can split a bigger shipment next time, because 25 chicks is not the way to save money.

    Oh heck. I really just want to eat chicken dinner with everybody!
     
  6. Sunny Side Up

    Sunny Side Up Count your many blessings...

    4,726
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    Mar 12, 2008
    Loxahatchee, Florida
    Where do you live? Maybe you can find some BYCers in your area who want to help you split a larger order from JMHatchery. When you order 100 chicks they're only $1 each.

    [​IMG] I'm in Palm Beach County, FL & would love to get some Freedom Rangers!
     
  7. BridgeTea

    BridgeTea Out Of The Brooder

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    Nov 21, 2009
    Michigan
    Quote:Yes, I'll definitely look to split an order of 100 with somebody. I think I can handle 50 on my own, and I have the space, but I'm not interested in 100...yet!

    All right, 36 hours after processing and the birds are off the ice and are wrapped and bagged. Some are in the freezer, some in the fridge to age another 12 hours. I'm experimenting with the aging and fridge space is at a premium here Thanksgiving week.

    I seriously need an accurate scale. All I had was a bathroom scale that I (sort of) checked for accuracy using store-bought known weights like full bags of flour and sugar. I even weighed the Thanksgiving turkey that had a weight marked on it! So far, no surprises. So the kids and I kept throwing random combos of 3 wrapped chickens into a cardboard box and kept track of the weight. Almost every box of 3 birds weighed 20#. If I subtract 2# for the cardboard box and wrappings, that still leaves 18# for 3 birds, or 6# average. Does this seem about right? Again, these are Colored Rangers or Freedom Rangers processed at 11 weeks, 2 days.

    Also, we processed the largest 20 birds. The smallest 6 are still out running around. Not sure what their future holds, I want/need some egg layers but am also curious how much bigger these 6 will get. The smallest ones all happened to be the lightest colored. (?!)

    26 birds went through about 450 lbs. of 20% protein feed. That figure can't be exact because they shared a pen with a duck and 2 banty hens who found their food sometimes, although those birds spend most of the day outside of the pen finding their own food.

    Question 1: Any blaring errors stand out in my aging process? They don't just sit and soak up water, do they? They didn't look bloated or anything, they just looked cold! As in maybe a little shrunken after being in ice water for 36 hours.

    Question 2: Anyone keep these long enough to get eggs out of them? I am switching them to the 16% feed that my other birds get. They are pretty active. Oh, and a roost height? They will sit around on top of logs. They'll walk up ramps to a horizontal surface 18" high, but they seriously look like they could break a leg when they fly/flop to the ground.

    Thanks for any tips, I really appreciate it!
     
  8. becky3086

    becky3086 Crested Crazy

    Oct 14, 2008
    Thomson, GA
    Wow, great post. Now some of us are following along and learning from you. [​IMG]
     

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