Yeah, yeah, I know I forgot to do the 3rd week for the BBC (Basic Broiler Challenge). Baaad me; no biscuit for Caity. ;) Okay, whatever.
We are on week #4 with the Freedom Rangers! Not only do I have a lot to share this week, but I also have the announcement that my numbers have doubled! Some friends ordered some FR chicks at the same time as I did, but as they are preparing to move to WA, they needed someone to take over in raising their meat birds. And because I - uh - have nothing better to do with my life, I agreed to take their 28 birds.
The contrast between these two groups of birds is flooring. They are the same age, from the exact same hatch, they came at the same time, they've been on the same feed, everything is pretty much the same between these two groups of chickens. Except ONE thing: Mine have been getting raw milk and raw milk byproducts (i.e. cheese, whey, yogurt, kefir, and clabbered milk). The result of this one seemingly insignificant change?
See for yourself:
This picture #1 has my Freedom Ranger on the right side (the one that you see the whole body of), and the left hand side has my friend's bird. Same age, same feed, same heat lamp even.
Picture #2: Again, my bird is on the right, and my friend's bird is on the left.
I've started jotting down weekly weights on both groups so I can track their growth rate and see how they're doing; so far it's pretty interesting to see the results... This week's record looks like this:
Group 1 (My group that's getting the raw milk):
Average individual weight: 1.3 lbs.
Average combined weight: 33.8 lbs.
Group 2 (my friends' birds who are NOT getting raw milk):
Average individual weight: .80 lbs.
Average combined weight: 22.4 lbs.
Not bad, eh? So far Group #1 is ahead of the game by 11.4 lbs. and that's just from milk that I otherwise would have dumped down the drain. These weights could very well totally reverse though, in the next few weeks. I'm getting ready to switch my chickens over to the straight sprouted-grain-and-raw-milk diet, and meanwhile my friends' group will be staying on a 20% protein broiler ration. I'm absolutely dying to see how the weights continue to pan out between the two groups as they grow and face diet changes!!!
After four weeks with these birds, I'm still really pleased with them. I haven't lost a single one; not even the 26th bird which was a free extra. I lost 21 Cornish Cross broilers back in June, and they were being treated with kid gloves. Besides the Freedom Ranger's hardiness, I have to admit that I am *quite* smitten with their wild colors. If nothing else, these birds are just plain gorgeous; and when you have to spend 12 weeks caring for them, having a bird that is easy on the eyes can make all the difference. ;) LOL.
Below are some pictures to show the color variety I have in my group.
This first bird is my FAVORITE and I'm so excited to see that it's looking like it just might be a pullet. Methinks I might have to keep her and see how she does as a laying hen; I read that Freedom Rangers are an excellent dual purpose breed, so it could be interesting to see what their laying abilities are...
Bird #2 is also looking like a pullet and her mottled brown/black coloration is quite striking, if I do say so myself. :)
Bird #3! I think this one might be a cockerel, but I'm not positive yet... This chicken has the color known as "lemon cuckoo", meaning gold barring. I loooooove it!
So far so good. Four weeks down, and 5-7 more weeks to go. I'm hoping to build a small hoop house soon which will house rabbits, but will also be the new digs for my Freedom Rangers. I think Oregon's autumn might be a bit too soggy for them after all, or even if it's not, my grass needs a good, long rest; so I may keep the Freedom Rangers off the pasture this year. One thing's for sure though, I need to do something soon! At four weeks old the chicks are constantly flying out of the brooder!