Spring cannot come fast enough around here. We are still blanketed in about 18″ or so of snow and ice. We are longing to plant something and play in the sunshine. Our temperatures have dropped back down into the single digits and how we so want spring.
Last week our first batch of baby broiler chicks arrived from the hatchery so we are on countdown till spring! The birds actually arrived on Friday February 21st which we have marked on the calendar because in about 3 months we should have some birds to process.
We ordered 25 Freedom Ranger all male birds from the freedom ranger hatchery in PA. What actually arrived was a total of 26 red freedom rangers and one black freedom ranger for a total of 27 birds. The black freedom rangers are slightly slower growing then the reds are. We choose this breed for its ability to still be a normal chicken that can walk, eat, forage and behave totally like a chicken should. We’ve read that the cornish cross can have a difficult time with these things. So last year a friend raised some freedom rangers for us, so we went with what we had because they were the best chicken I’ve ever eaten!
We then proceeded to go out Monday to our local Tractor Supply and purchase 16(!) Ameracaunas for new laying birds. We NEED eggs around here. I grew up with chickens my entire life. I only ate “farm fresh” eggs from our own birds or the chicken farm across the street from our house. Last year we were forced to move and we didnt have any chickens. We were forced back to store bought eggs. To my surprise I was completely egg intolerant of any store bought egg. No matter if it was cage free organic… my body reacted as if I had put a toxin in. So the only eggs I can eat are our own.
Our birds have grown so fast that they have already doubled in size in one week. We have them on a local GMO free grower feed and so far we haven’t lost a one. We have upgraded them to a larger “house” where they have more room to be silly little chicks. The kids LOVE to see them and help out with their care. After they feather out completely we will move them outside to our next ingenious idea. The truck cap chicken coop.
This is our old hen “salt n pepper”. She actually sat on a bunch of eggs and hatched them at the old farm where we used to live. We were blessed with 11 babe chicks that year! We utilized the truck cap because I had noticed how incredibly warm these stayed, and did I mention DRY? The truck cap is made of fiberglass and even in the coldest winter we had grass growing year round inside of it. Ever since it has been our baby chicken coop where our young birds grow until they are feathered enough to head out into the great outdoors.
I will get updated photos of the broilers in the next few days so you can see how much they have grown. We plan to do 25 birds a month from now until August if all goes as planned. Where we live we are only zoned for 2 large livestock but unlimited fowl. So we are utilizing what we can to produce healthy, safe, gmo free food for our family. Our next adventure… the chicken plucker!
Below is a current photo (3/1/14) of the Freedom Ranger Broiler on the Left(day 8) and the Americauna Pullet on the Right(day 6). The broiler already weigh in at 4.1oz and the layer weighs 2.4oz. What a difference in GROWTH!! Looking forward to watching them grow.