Our spring meat chickens have arrived! (Please excuse the bedhead, but Girl 2, our biggest chick-lover, was out in the garage cuddling her new chicks by 6:30a.m.)
To save some cash on shipping, we went in on our chick order from Murray McMurray Hatchery with some friends who were excited about welcoming home their first chicks. Pictured above, WH is excited about his new, tiny pets!
Is he not adorable, looking on as his daddy moves the chicks in to their new home?
As you may recall from this post, I was a little disgusted by the Cornish Crosses that we raised last year. It seemed a little contrary to our homesteading goals for us to be raising animals like that, so we were pleased to discover this new offering this year from the hatchery.
Our new chicks are called Red Rangers, and according to McMurray's description, "The Red Ranger has an outstanding growth rate reaching approximately 6.7 lbs. in just over 80 days. These birds have great livability and a 70% live to dress weight yield. The breast meat is in natural proportion to the leg meat. . . . An excellent forager; the Red Ranger is able to withstand the free range or natural living environment very well."
In other words, it'll grow big enough fast enough to make a good meat chicken without having any of the freakish qualities the Cornish Cross exhibits like breasts so large it cannot walk or a heart that cannot keep up with the demands of its over-sized body.
Right now, they're an adorable fuzzy yellow, but they'll eventually be a pretty red color (much preferfable to the white of the Cornish Crosses that just always looked dirty to me -- especially once they got too fat for their legs to support them well and spent most of their time squatting on the ground).
Right now, our little chicks are taking up residence in the garage, but once they begin to get their big-boy feathers and the weather is consistently warm enough, they'll be ready to move to the meat chicken tractor where they will get fresh forage daily in the backyard.