Friday, June 18, 2010

Freedom Rangers

After raising chickens for the past 5-6 years for egg production by husband Bill and I began talking about raising chickens for meat. We had friends who had raised Cornish Cross and after witnessing their birds I was completely turned off by the idea. Cornish Cross grow too fast for their bodies to keep up with. Many of them dye from heart attacks or they cant stand up to eat their own food. Now I know these birds are being raised to eat but I do desire to eat something that was raised in humane conditions and had a healthy life.

A friend of Bills passed a magazine article on to us that discussed Freedom Ranger chickens. Freedom Ranger chickens were first developed in France in the 1960's. They were developed for the French program, Label Rouge, which takes pride in the high quality of their birds. Many restaurants in France use Freedom Rangers. These birds came to the US in 2000 via a hatchery in Canada. Within a few years this hatchery closed down and now small farms are choosing to raise these birds instead of the Cornish Cross.

Freedom Rangers are great foraging free range birds. Many rave about the taste which is due to their slow growth and free range ability. Freedom Rangers will have a long body, small breast and longer legs (I like dark meat better anyway). I am willing to sacrifice the final dressed weight of the bird in exchange for taste and quality of how they are raised and processed.

So we finally decided these were the birds that we would start this adventure with. A group of us ordered a large quantity of chicks through JM Hatchery. The first batch we got was 24 and then 25. We have only lost 1 chick so far. They seem to be good healthy birds.

These chicks were from our fist purchase they are about 4 weeks old and will soon be going to an outdoor pen that we will be building this coming week. We are working on plans for a chicken tractor setup that can be used during the day then move them to a safe pen at night.

These cute little chicks are about 1 1/2 weeks old. We just picked them up 3 days ago.
So far things are going well with this little experiment. I will use this blog to keep track of our progress from now to the dinner table (YUM). So keep checking back as the weeks go by.

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