Thursday, June 28, 2012

Freedom Ranger Chicks

Today the phone rang early with news that our chicks had arrived at the post office! There was no problem persuading the children to dress quickly and gulp down breakfast so we could pick them up.


Last year we raised meat chickens for the first time. We chose the basic Cornish Cross chicken breed. Though the Cornish Cross did well for us, we were interested in trying the Freedom Ranger breed of chicken.

From what I've heard, the general opinion is that Freedom Rangers act more like a chicken. They scratch, they run, and they are excellent grazers. Freedom Rangers often have few leg problems and some people even claim the meat tastes better.



On the other hand, as anyone who has raised Cornish Cross knows, those birds were bred to eat and put on weight. Though we raised our chickens last year in a moveable pen and gave them fresh grass several times a day, the Cornish Cross laid on their bellies with their heads in the trough and ate.

This spring, the folks at Freedom Ranger Hatchery (a Mennonite family and a reader of this blog!) offered to give us some Freedom Ranger chicks to try out the breed for ourselves.



Today, 26 one day old chicks arrived from the the Freedom Ranger Hatchery. Located in Pennsylvania, they ship all over the US and the chicks arrived in the mail in great shape.

Within minutes of being introduced to their new home, the chicks were running around, picking feed, and drinking water.



Our children are having wonderful fun with the chicks.

Thanks Freedom Ranger Hatchery for the opportunity to try your chicks.

I'll keep you all posted on our opinion on raising Freedom Rangers. And in the meantime, I'd love to hear your experience. Have you raised meat chickens? Have you tried Freedom Rangers?

14 comments :

  1. We raised Freedom Rangers for the first time last year and LOVED them! They are more like the chickens we raise for eggs and were amazing at foraging for their own food. We also kept ours in a movable chicken tractor and they thrived!

    We've done Cornish Cross birds for years. I never liked the fact that they just sat around and didn't move. They never looked right to me. After raising Freedom Rangers, I'm sold! They smelled better when we went to butcher them, were easier to clean and the meat is amazing! We won't raise anything else...other than our own chicks from our egg layers....for meat. When we buy meat birds, we will buy Freedom Rangers! Love the service from the hatchery too. They were awesome!

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    Replies
    1. Glad to hear from your experience that the Freedom Rangers were a good choice!
      Gina

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  2. We haven't tried raising chickens for meat, but we are going to be raising them for eggs next year. They will also be a great method of keeping aphids off our apple trees :) The freakish weather this year has brought them in force :(

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  3. We raised chicks for meat last year. We had Ross/Cobb birds which sound like they are the British equivalent of your Cornish crosses. I was appalled at how they sat around when we first got them at 5 weeks old but after a week with us, they could move much better and I was happier. I would do it again but would prefer to try another breed that would move more. We are in a suburban situation and just don't have anywhere to keep chicks with heat which is why we went for the 5 week old ones as they did not need the heat any more. There is only one other type of meat bird here - Hubbards - but they are only available as day old chicks which isn't really a possibility at the moment. The meat was fantastic compared to shop bought and I knew the chicks had a chance to enjoy a bit of life so I was happoer about the whole thing.

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    Replies
    1. Jo-
      Sounds like you are doing your best with your circumstances.
      Gina

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  4. Well you know I love them. We've decided it's the only broiler for us & I thank you for the close referral of a source for chicks. Ours did so poorly this year because the feed store up the road we purchased from based their dates off Easter which was early this year so the chicks lost a lot of viability due to exposure from sitting out on the usps dock on Good Friday. I hope your flock does beautifully, grows healthy, and exceeds your expectations!

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    Replies
    1. Quinn-
      You are the one who has most encouraged me to try Freedom Rangers!
      Gina

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  5. Aw! What fun! I love our layers, but I have been wanting to try raising meat chickens. I can't wait to see what you think of this breed!

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  6. I think when you posted, (or someone posted), about meat birds before I commented so beg pardon if this is repeated. Yes, we raise meat birds. We have 20 this year and usually have around that many each year. They are just as lazy as they can be but we have also had some that got to be 14 lbs dressed. Though we do usually lose some to leg problems. We try to butcher right away when we notice they are lame, 'cause they will not get better and will only lose weight from then on. Also they are incredibly mean to each other and will peck at each other for any small reason. Basically this is a GMO. We still raise them, give them enough room to move around if they choose and get really good results.

    The pictures of your children and the chicks are so cute. Our grandson is visiting this summer again and we just had 30 muskovy ducklings hatch. That's our other favorite meat bird. He love going to the coop in the evening with Grampa D and gathering eggs and looking in on the ducklings.

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    Replies
    1. You raise ducks for meat? How interesting! How does duck meat compare in taste to chicken?
      Gina

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  7. When we lived in Oklahoma and belonged to a Poultry group .. there were a few folks that were talking great things about them Freedom Rangers.. we like most went with cornish X but I think we treated them much like the rest of our flock ... and they didnt become lazy... they ran around like the others.. free ranging.....

    Since we moved well... I just recieved my second batch of babies on Tuesday from Mc Murray Hatchery.. Raising Chickens really is a fun thing to do and take so lil energy to do it.. but the rewards we reap are priceless and so much healthier.. Wouldnt you agree :)

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  8. I just got done butchering my last 6 Cornish Cross birds Thursday. I had 17 of them. All bought from people who had gotten them from Tractor Supply thinking they were a laing breed. So I lucked out on these. Mine were in my side yard free ranging the whole time I had them. The first 6 I did were 4-6 pounds. The next 5 were a little smaller. The last 6 were 3 to almost 5 pounds. Mine were very active chickens. They were always running somewhere.

    But I have been really thinking about the FR birds and have gone to that very site many times. I do believe I will order 50 of them in the next few weeks. They are cheaper by about .40 per bird than the CC and only take 9-11 weeks to grow to butcher weight. So I think I am sold on these.

    I hope you will post about yours every few weeks so we can see their progress. I am going to keep records of all the feed I give them and how long it takes to raise them.

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  9. Gina, just ordered 50 FR chicks today. I talked to Lisa. She is so nice. I am excited about these birds. Already got my unmedicated feed and a brooder box and red light and some vitamins for their water. Also have a chicken tractor for when they first go outside.

    So how long do you keep your chicks inside for? I figure a few weeks at least. We are in N. Ga. and have been having 100 degree days latley. I don't even know if I need the light. Maybe just at night.

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  10. Well, I was going to refer you to my dear friend, Quinn at Reformation Acres but I see you two have already have the blessing of friendship. : ) Although we are not in a position to have chickens (Lord, I'm trying to be patient but please move us to the country soon) I am taking notes and bookmarking posts from the both of you. Thanks.

    Blessings,
    Emily

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I'm still learning how to be a joyful homemaker and I'd love to hear from you!

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