week old chicks

The little fuzz-butts are just over a week old and still doing really well! There was one that seemed sickly when the box arrived, and sadly it died shortly afterwards. But the hatchery always ships an extra chick, just in case.

one chick

So I still have 25 birds, and the rest are doing wonderfully! They’re strong, curious, run all about their box and there isn’t a single weak one in the group. This may seem totally reasonable and normal if you’re not used to meat birds. But trust me, they’re doing way better than the standard cornish x meat bird chicks.

two chick

And you can see they’re already starting to get true feathers on their wings! I think meat birds just age a lot faster than layers. They feather out more quickly, start crowing more quickly, get to harvesting weight more quickly. But if you keep them around the hens start laying younger than regular layers do. And at a year and a half old they look and move like a 6 year old layer would. Something about carrying the extra weight, or maybe being bred to grow so fast, it wears them out faster too…

red chick

But at least with the freedom rangers they run, explore, and range like a normal chicken during the time they have. They’re tastier than a normal chicken too. I’ve tried raising a double purpose breed and eating all the roosters. You really have to keep them for a year before they’ve put on enough weight, and that’s a long time to keep a bunch of roosters around.

blue chick

So I get these guys instead!

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4 responses to “week old chicks

  1. I’d be interested in hearing about exactly what type of chicken you raise for meat, and how long you raise them for. My parents tried to raise an heirloom meat breed, and were not pleased with the meat at all – very small birds and very tough.

    • I’m raising freedom rangers for the third (or maybe fourth?) year in a row. Freedom rangers is a pretty generic term that a lot of hatcheries are using right now for their meat bird strains so results can vary wildly. I did a pretty thorough review of them a while back ( https://beckyinvt.wordpress.com/2011/04/26/meat-birds/)

      I’m still getting that same strain of birds, although JM Hatcheries passed the meat birds off to their sons’ family so they’re now just freedomrangerhatchery.com

      And I’m not even paid to promote them this way!

  2. They’re so cute! Maybe some day I will have the space and circumstances to be able to raise chickens (and have a real garden again… sigh.) I “babysat” someone’s chickens for a week, though, and enjoyed it! They had layers and adolescent meat birds.

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