Friday, September 7, 2012

Freedom Ranger Wrap Up

The Freedom Ranger chickens were ten weeks old this week. They continued to be healthy and alert. They had grown enough that they were a little crowded in their pen, especially when they see us walk out in the morning and all crowd to the one end in anticipation of their feed. I wish we could have left them free range, but we were worried about predators. At least in this pen, we could move them to fresh grass several times a day.



This week was B-Day. And here is where I prove what a sissy homesteader we are.

To butcher our chickens, we loaded them up in crates and took them to a neighboring farm. A couple hours later I picked up beautifully cleaned chickens packed in ice. Maybe someday we will attempt to butcher our own chickens, but at our stage of life, spending two dollars a bird to have someone else do the work is money well spent!


This was our first time to try the Freedom Ranger breed - thanks to an offer from Freedom Ranger Hatchery to try out their chicks. While they gave us free chicks, all the opinions written here are my own.

If you want a comparison - here is the post telling about our chicken raising experience with Cornish Cross last year.

Last year we raised 21 Cornish Cross chickens for eight weeks. Our cost were almost identical to raising 23 Freedom Rangers for ten weeks. (We started out with 26 chicks and three died the first few weeks.)

The biggest difference was size. While at eight weeks the Cornish Cross averaged 5.5 pound, the Freedom Rangers were slower growing. Even at ten weeks the average size was almost four pound, 3.9 pound to be exact. Maybe we should have allowed them to grow longer before butchering, or since we are still newbies, maybe we should have done something different in our feeding to gain greater size.



But I expected a size difference. If you have ever raised Cornish Cross you know that about all they do is hang their heads in the feed trough and eat. The Freedom Rangers ate heartily when we poured feed in the trough but they also nibbled at grass, watched the cat walk across the yard, and in general appeared to be interested in life around them. More than once, when I was filling their water, they pushed against the wire and escaped, capering around the yard before we could capture them again.

Our average cost per chicken was $8.58. This includes feed and butchering. The average price per pound was $2.20. Since I know that local free range chickens often sell for $12.00, I was pleased with our results.


Now for taste. I have heard often that Freedom Rangers taste better. I popped a chicken in my dutch oven, surrounded it with potatoes, onions, garlic, and carrots and threw on some seasonings. A few hours later, the house smelled wonderful.

I really don't know if Freedom Rangers taste better than Cornish Cross. I'd have to do a side-by-side comparison. But recently I had brought some chicken at the store to hold us over until these were ready to butcher. Ed took one bite of our own chicken this week and said there was no comparison to store chicken meat. The chicken was so tender and flavorful with no red streaks along the bone.

The fulfillment of raising your own food make all the frustration worthwhile!

7 comments :

  1. It's been a while since we butchered our own chickens or rabbits, but I'd say that $2 was a bargain. And, to know exactly what went into their growth is worth more.

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  2. I wish we could find somewhere close to us that butchers chickens. We have looked but so far no success. We plan on attempting to do our own the first of Nov. Hopefully all will go well. I have butchered chickens before but that was quite a bit back. I think it will probably all come back to me though. Enjoy your day and God bless.

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  3. Goodness! You have me talked into it! My husband just told me to order some, but I want to find someone who will butcher them for me first! lol!

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  4. At 10 weeks, those chickens look huge. Mine are 6 weeks old. I think I have planned on butchering mine around the end of Oct. so they'll be a little over 12 weeks. I will see at 10 weeks how big they are then. Mine are out all day then I put them all back in their little pen for dinner. I'm probably not feeding them much but they are eating other things too plus scratch and grower-finisher. They are pigs! I can't wait to eat one now. Yours looks really good.

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  5. We butcher our own chickens but if we found somebody that would do it for us for £1 (= $2 approx) then you could be sure that we would use their services! We've only raised Ross-Cobbs which I suspect are the British version of your Cornish and also fattened up spare cockerels. As we are in a suburban situation, then the cockerels have to go at the first crow because the neighbours object so they are not as large as they could be. However the slow growing does make for very tasty dinners. The Ross Cobbs were the same as you said - at first they just sat there beside the feed and ate. By the time they were 10 weeks old they would lumber across the big pen to meet me and took a lot of interest in their surroundings but their behaviour is not like normal hens who lay who are quirky and inquisitive about everything. They are the only meat bird that we can get, though, so I'd rather have them than the birds from the supermarket. But $2 - that is such a bargain.

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  6. Thanks so much for posting this. I know this is old, but did you put your birds back up at night then out into the tractor in the morning? I'm thinking of having about a dozen birds in our garden in the spring. I may build some sort of structure for them to go into at night but I was going to leave them in the garden to free range all day. THanks in advance, Kelley

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    Replies
    1. We let them in this tractor all the time, just moving it to a different section of grass several times a day. Laying hens can be trained to go back to their house to roost each night but I didn't think these birds were old enough or smart enough to do that. But if you feed them inside your structure each evening, they would probably go in at night.
      Gina

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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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