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Wrong About Freedom Rangers

| 12/7/2010 9:59:00 AM

Tags: poultry, chickens,

Well, I was wrong about Freedom Rangers. In Cornish Cross or Heritage Chicken: Which Do You Prefer?, I wrote that they “fall somewhere between heritage chickens and Cornish Cross.” But if heritage breeds are at one end of the spectrum, and Cornish Cross are at the other, Freedom Rangers are much closer to the Cornish Cross end of the spectrum. I raised 26 Freedom Rangers this summer and fall.

Freedom Rangers 8 Weeks 

The Freedom Rangers did well on pasture; they may have foraged a bit more than the Cornish Cross that I raised last year. I received 26 chicks on July 30. That night, I put eight of the chicks under a broody hen. She raised those chicks until they were about five weeks old. The other chicks were brooded under a heat lamp, but had access to pasture when they were less than a week old. Because we had some pretty hot weather in August, making sure the chicks didn’t overheat during the day was more of a concern than keeping them warm.

I expected the chicks to grow more slowly than Cornish Cross, so I fed them 24-percent protein starter for several weeks. Then I realized how quickly they were growing and reduced the protein level to 20 percent. I started noticing many of the chicks walked much like Cornish Cross chickens — a slow, tromping gait. I backed the protein level to 15 percent. Before they were eight weeks old, one of the cockerels was virtually unable to walk, so I slaughtered him. Another cockerel was even less mobile by the pre-arranged processing date when the birds were 11½ weeks old (Poultry Processing: Processing Chickens in Fall 2010).

Not all the Freedom Rangers grew so fast. We had a pretty broad range of sizes in the flock. The smallest pullet provided a carcass that was about 3 pounds. The largest was probably a bit more than 6 pounds. (We only weighed a few.) This photo shows an average sized bird and the smallest bird.

Freedom Ranger Carcasses 

Costs and Efficiency 

Carrie Timlin
8/16/2013 6:55:21 AM

We have 51 FR's this summer, our first time. They are 8 weeks old and all have survived. We put them outside at the end of June in a chicken tractor at 2 weeks old, with supplemental light at night for one more week. We fed a mixture of local milled and regional organic starter/grower mash of 22%, not sure how long, but 150 lbs, then switched to 17-20% broiler - depends on which mill. They are active and yes, voracious (will peck your hand off at a day old), but I expected that after reading the feed conversions - we planned on 750-800 lbs of feed to get them to 12 weeks. They are a nice size. We don't let them out of the tractor, just move it every two days so they have fresh ground, grass, and some bugs. I'm not sure I want the muscles to develop that much(?), but this is our first year. And wasn't sure they would be smart enough to make their way back in at night. Most of ours are the golden color - we have two with "spots" of grey and brown that I assume will be bars when they are older. We've decided to keep one pullet with the bars and add her to our laying flock. She is kinda sweet and I like her coloring. I may cross her with our Buff Orpington Roo or our FBCM Roo and see what kind of meat birds we can get for next year without buying, as long as she assimilates well. Right now she's the odd teenager in the bunch. We chose these because every time I see the cornish x, they look nasty. Also didn't want to deal with the health issues or "having" to feed commercial medicated feed. No leg issues, no crop issues, although I did keep an eye out for this - at 4-5 weeks they seemed to have swollen crops frequently, so I made sure to start them on Chick sized grit early and stopped feeding at night so their crops would have a chance to empty.

3/26/2012 10:56:09 PM

We raised 51 Freedom Rangers; 49 made it to the butcher (one died at 3 wks of sour crop, and another went missing....). They were free-range, very active and resourceful foragers -- hearty indeed, and lived a blissful existence until their one bad day at the butcher's... They appeared to thrive on layer mash -- no leg problems.

Jennifer Lee Curry
3/25/2012 11:33:52 PM

I haven't had the experience that Freedom Rangers have leg problems- I freerange all of my fowl. I am however extremely disappointed with their reproduction- last year out of forty some eggs only one hatched- but she is very true to type and doing well. I definitely plan to mix in some different breeds this summer. I'll pick up on some free roosters later in the season I'm sure- Rhodies and Buffies I think.

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