I swap out chickens every year from my backyard flock. Some of the older birds or ones that are not performing as well as I hoped go to the freezer. They are replaced by new chicks.
Getting the perfect mix of chicks for my flock requires me to order from hatcheries online. I have some personal favorite breeds that are almost impossible to find at the local ranch store. I usually try to order the week after my employer’s conference in January. This year I sustained an injury and have had troubles with keyboarding, so did not get online and make put together my order.
I just checked online at my favorite hatchery that allows me to pick my order one chick at a time, though I usually go with two or three, and stocks all my hard to find favorites. I am too late. I wanted my chicks to be shipped for a March arrival. My choices were sold out until June and July. I am too late.
On to Plan B. It means I will settle for favorites that I find this year at the ranch supply. I will be watching for the announcement of Chick Days. You can bet I will be at the first or second one they have. I have already lost out once, I am not going to do it again. You snooze — you loose.
Last night when we went out to close up the chickens in the shed we had an unpleasant surprise. We lost a meatie chicken. We had two females left, and now we are down to one. We had planned to butcher her on Saturday, but it seems we had missed the deadline of life.
At this point after trying five Freedom Rangers I would have to say it was an experiment that gave me results I won’t need to verify a second time. I no longer wonder if it would be worth it to do meat birds instead of heavy dual-purpose egg layers. At 6,000 feet it isn’t worth it.
The roosters matured very quickly and became territorial worse than any other rooster we have ever had. We butchered them early for safety’s sake. They were smaller than we had planned or expected based on the internet. The females initially grew quickly and then plateaued. They reached what we wanted for finishing weigh much slower. At 15 weeks one of the females was found dead in the coop one evening. We have to assume that it is from heart failure. Heart failure is common in Cornish Rock Cross, so much so that they are not recommended for altitudes at 5,000 and above. Freedom Rangers are supposed to be less prone to this, but I suspect that 6,000 feet puts even the heartier Freedom Ranger at risk.
Meaties were suppose to be a quick easy way to put some meat in the freezer but it didn’t work out that way. I have not butchered the last female meatie. I plan to do that this weekend. We will weigh her once we have dressed her. I am sure she will weigh in heavier than our heavy dual-purpose birds when we butcher them. But based on what has happened so far the little extra in weight doesn’t justify all that went into raising these meaties. I plan to stick to what has worked for me so far heritage heavy dual-purpose layers. Those same birds the could make breakfast for Grandma and then be Sunday dinner.