Some days I hate making decisions. Let's face it, some are just easier than others. Most days it's a snap. Not because I am easily persuaded or a pushover. Generally, I just know what's right for us and don't like alot of blah, blah, blah.
Ever since the Chicken Tractor magically materialized over the weekend I have been debating what breed of broilers to go with. I have been following many of you closely on your choices too.
Y'all know how I feel about white Chucky chickens. Call me crazy, we all have our nightmarish phobias, right?
Stella, she has me re-thinking that many of the problems these poor birds are riddled with can be handled with proper care and nutrition.
On the other hand, one bad birdie and it's bye-bye for me. I have been scouring information and it all boils down to two choices: Cornish X or the red broilers most commonly referred to as Freedom Rangers, Red Rangers or simply Red Broilers. The last three breeds vary just slightly in some instances but for the most part are relatively the same from what I gathered.
Here is the ongoing debate in my bird brain:
Cornish X commonly suffer from leg issues. Their bodies grow so fast that their legs and bones can't keep up. The tendons and ligaments can tear away, rendering them lame. Supposedly, Freedom Rangers suffer fewer occurrences with this.
Freedom Rangers have been breed to maintain basic chicken characteristics, namely foraging. So they are more likely to do well ranged in the Chicken Tractor and Electric Fence. Cornish X have been known to epitomize the 'bird brain' mentality and not know what to do with a worm and walk away from it...if they can.
Cornish X have a high feed conversion to meat. They are eating, pooping machines. Which ultimately means they are ready to butcher in 6 - 8 weeks. However, when they start creeping up there in 'age' you are more likely to encounter other issues as well. Their little lungs are prone to flu-like diseases. If they can't take in enough air, particularly in the heat and their hearts can't pump enough blood, they get lazy. Who wouldn't? You also run the risk of breast blisters at this point. Apparently this can be attributed again to their legs not being strong enough to support the birds weight. So they start laying down more often which puts pressure on the breast area where fluid can builds up (not necessarily rendering them inedible unless it gets infected). Wait too long to butcher the Cornish X, and you could easily lose your flock on any of these accounts.
Freedom Rangers handle warmer weather better and grow a bit slower. Typically they can be ready to butcher between 9-11 weeks. This means more in feed costs. However, they do forage which may balance the feed cost out. Some folks claim they are like a fine wine and the added growth time makes them taste more "chicken-ee".
On both breed accounts, it's reported they can suffer all the same issues to some degree. However, with proper care, the right balance of vitamins and nutrients, they both produce well. Even to the point of getting them back on their feet in some cases. Respiratory issues of course would require medical treatment of some sort, albeit home remedy or pharmaceuticals.
All that back and forth, blah, blah, blah business leads me to think that I should go with the Freedom Ranger as it may be less likely to freak me out. I'll fly that flag!
Being the new Chicken Farmer that I am, methinks it might be the safest and less traumatic route. However I have never been one to shy away either.
And I'm kinda hungry.
Therefore, I may just conduct my own experiment and come to my own conclusions first hand. I was able to find a couple of sites that I could get both breeds. Not nearly as easy as one would have thought actually!
Of course, typically there is a minimum order of 25 chicks...Huh...gonna need a bigger Chicken Tractor!
Kidding! Just thought I'd mess with Pig Pen a little...hehehee!
So, all you experienced Chicken Farmers, what do you think?
Chicken Pot Pie Gal