Friday, March 29, 2013

Choosing Chickens

If you follow along with the blog you will remember my frantic call for help a few weeks back as I was in search of chickens ... meat chickens to be precise ... actually meat chicks to be more accurately precise. My original plan wasn't going to work out anymore so I needed to come up with another plan somewhat quickly. Thankfully there were tons of helpful comments posted on the blog, e-mailed, and messaged through Facebook. Now ... we have chicks on the farm and they seem to be doing great.

So ... what did I end up doing? I came up with a solution ... that's what I did! It's not my ideal solution, but I believe it will allow me to accomplish some of my goals this year and then prepare for the future (the future being next year). In fact since I was somewhat late to the game when it comes to ordering I couldn't even really get exactly the chicks I wanted. Here is what I ended up doing ...

Step #1 :: Order 125 Freedom/Red Rangers
  • These are the chicks that I have already received and they are doing great
  • I was interested in trying them because I had talked with a farmer who raised them at the processor last year and he loved them
  • They grow a bit faster than the Naked Necks so hopefully they will be ready earlier than expected
Step #2 :: Order 125 Naked Necks
  • I have been very pleased with these birds for the past two years, but I am a little gun shy about ordering from a hatchery instead of a farmer I know
  • They are slow growing birds so they will be ready sometime in July hopefully ... perfect for the market
Step #3 :: Order another 125 Freedom/Red Rangers
  • This batch is coming from a different hatchery in order to try something different, and because I can add it to an order at the farm store in town (where I used to work) to save on shipping
  • Hopefully I can get the scheduling right and then I'll be able to take these into the processor at the same time as the Naked Necks
Step #4 :: Evaluate and Place Following Orders
  • While these three sets of chicks are growing I need to decide what to do for the rest of the season
  • Hopefully I'll be ordering two more batches of chicks
Step #5 :: Get Ready for 2014
  • Thanks to all of the great comments about various heritage breed chickens I have lots to think about
  • One thing I'm very interested in is incubating chicks here on the farm ... so lots to research there
  • The Mottled Java ... that is one of the breeds that was mentioned and I think I'm going to check them out
It seems like a good plan doesn't it? If it is a good plan I'll let you know how it works out ... and if it's a bad plan ... well, I'll let you know about that as well.


Anonymous said...

Hi Ethan, good post I think you will be happy with the Freedom Rangers. From what I hear they do grow fast and are good foragers. With you being a Iowa farmer you should check out the Iowa Blue chicken. I just did a post about them on my blog. This dual purpose chicken is the only breed that was developed in Iowa. It was brought back from the brink of extinction and has a very interesting story how the breed came about. If you are looking for a breed that can forage for most of its own food and is smart enough to defend and out smart predators then they may work for you.

Rich said...

If you are satisfied with the naked necks, why not try to hatch your own naked neck chicks?

The engineer in me would also be wondering if there was a difference in how much feed, expense, and taste difference there was between the naked necks and the freedom rangers. Even a dollar difference per bird could eventually add up to real money.

I'm not sure if it would be possible to get some good data without having a huge amount of birds, but it might be interesting to try to figure that out. (it sounds like a good way to teach kids about farming, economics, math, and engineering)

Ethan Book said...

That's funny that you mention the Iowa Blue Chickens ... Literally I was on the Iowa Blue Chicken Club website just a couple days ago. I think once we get the incubation all figured out ... and how to keep a few different breeds separate we might try them as well.

Along those lines I had thought about raising our own naked necks, but the most of them that you can get from a hatchery use some sort of hybrid breeding so I don't know how the consistency would be.

Probably my biggest reason for not wanting to stick with the Freedom/Red Rangers is because I want to be able to breed/hatch my own chicks and because I really want to stick with the heritage and rare breeds. But ... the money thing does matter A LOT!

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