Monday, May 26, 2014

Freedom Ranger Chickens and Turkeys

A little over 5 weeks ago we received a 6AM wake up call from the Post Office notifying us that our Freedom Rangers had arrived.  I was able to pickup the chickens before the Post Office opened which was unexpected and a nice thing for them to do.  The little chicks all made it, and were place in the brooder a friend gave us a few years ago.

We choose the Freedom Rangers, sold by Freedom Ranger Hatchery, because the birds are suited towards free ranging on our property.  Cornish Crosses don't range very well because they grow so fast and have leg issues. Also, when a Cornish Cross time is up, they must be processed.  I am assuming won't want to process all birds in a single shot at a specific time.  This is our first time raising meat birds and I was torn between the Red Ranger and Freedom Ranger.  I was sold on the marketing.

Unfortunately, when the birds arrived we did not have the starter feed on hand, so the wife ran off to the feed store.  While at the store, she noticed they had turkeys for sale.  We were wanting to raise a couple of turkeys, but I didn't find a hatchery that would mix birds.  These hatcheries required an order of 25 turkeys, way too many for us. We quickly learned that Turkey's require a higher protein feed versus a chicken.  In the organic world this leaves us with no options locally at first.  We were able to order some in.  In the meantime we picked up a bag of Purina Flock feed.  We have come to hate Purina as a feed for birds.  This is the second time we have used one of their feed products.  If you want to know why people think chickens stink, just give the birds Purina. The brooder stunk up the garage to where it smelt like a chicken house.  When switched to a non-gmo flock feed the smell was about a 1/4 as potent.

The birds grew amazingly fast.  I was hoping to have them in the brooder a little longer than 3 weeks, but that didn't happen.  A dog run was purchased from a pet store.  This idea came from a friend.  For probably the same cost as a chicken house and run, we got a chain link 15 x 5 foot run.  The door was modified the bottom so the birds won't slip out.  Basically wire-tied 2x4 fencing that was lying around.  Sheet metal was used to build some cover inside and supported by tree branches.  Tree branches were run through the chain link so the birds can roost.  There was left over straw from the winter so it was thrown down for bedding.

So far the birds have been okay, not great.  Five chickens have had a leg or foot sprain.  I'm not sure if this is normal with the breed, the mix run or something we are doing.  We have never had 25 birds before with multiple males.  We have been pulling out the injured birds and quarantining them until they get better.  After five weeks, the gallon waterer has to be refilled 3 times a day and the birds are eating about 50lbs of food a week.  My next project will be looking into building a waterer from a 5 gallon bucket with nipples for the birds.




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