As timid as I have been about attempting to raise our own bipedal food, I have let our success with the first batch of meaty chicks spur me on to fill our freezer with a more realistic amount of chicken for our needs.
We did ten chickens last time and we only have four of those left, and we have not even started the holiday season.
With this in mind I took note that we had two hens who were very intent on sitting, whether I had taken out all the eggs from underneath them or not, so we began round two.
Ever in the mood for an experiment, I had been thinking I would order chicks by the name of Red Ranger who are supposed to be from the same stock as the French "Label Rouge" chickens. But as I began pricing out the chicks and the exorbitant shipping charge I decided instead to go with some all American chicks from the Long Horn State.
I ordered 26 red meaty chicks from Ideal Hatchery thinking I would sell half, but decided to try both hens as mothers and have a few extra chickens in the freezer.
So far it has been a breeze. I have to say that the hens have been extraordinary mothers through all this.
One hen has now, very wisely, decided that since the chicks grew so fast and there are so many of them, she will sleep on the chicken house roost and they will sleep in the box they were "hatched" in. But she has not given up her motherly duties! She puts them to bed each night and then goes to roost. In the morning she hops down and takes them out to forage.
Keeping watch for hawks is her main concern right now (and mine) so she keeps her eye on the sky and if so much as a Crow flies over she lets out the low throaty rattle that says "Take cover quick and lay still" and the chicks bolt for the underbrush and lay silent until she gives them the clucky "All's clear".
|These chicks are 7 weeks old.|
I am not noticing a big difference between the white Cornish Cross we raised before and these red meatys. The others free ranged and foraged just as well, thanks to these good moms.
Where there might be a big difference is in the final few weeks of their lives. We will see. If they are indeed sturdier we may let them grow a little longer to let them get to a "holiday meal" size.