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An Experiment in Chick Raising: Part 1, The Plan

by @ 10:21 am on April 4, 2014.

So in a moment of what now seems to have been complete and total insanity, I ordered 25 Freedom Rangerchicks to raise for meat. They are arriving today.

It still seems like a good idea in theory. I miss eating chicken, but we’re a little afraid of even organic chicken from the store. I’ve read excellent things about the flavor of free range chicken, and I’m still hoping these freedom rangers are a good balance between a little meatier than heritage breeds but healthier and better rangers than commercial broilers. And even if I fail completely, I’m only out $60 for the chicks. But since I’m committed to this course now, here is my plan.

I’m limited on available feed options. Going organic I can’t just run to TSC to pick up some starter. Most recipes I’ve found have been complicated. I don’t know what half the ingredients are, let alone where to get them. I found this page of mixes, and am running with the idea of one on there: feed mixes.

I plan to take my basic chicken mix (4 parts wheat, 2 partse corn, 1 part oats, 1 part barley) and grind it up using a hammermill inherited from my father in law. They’ll also get unlimited raw milk and free choice kelp. This follows the basic “milk mash for chicks” recipe on the above page. While this is at least a natural recipe, my grains are just bulk purchase from Southern States. I need to find an organic source for grains, but this is what I have for now.

Since we didn’t get the hammermill in time (stupid rain!), I had to smash a little feed to get started with. First I tried a hammer. That didn’t go so well.

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Ern thankfully remembered his hand crank cornmeal grinder, and that works great. It’s not fast, but it does the job and is SO much better than my hammer method.

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Anyway, that recipe calls for a few other ingredients for indoor chicks, only the above for “range” chicks. Ok, so how do I get the chicks outside? I tried to research that one, and no one seems to raise chicks outside from the get-go. My mom built a lovely new chicken palace for her hens, so I inherited her old one. It’s about 4×8, so should be big enough to get them started. It has a nest box area, so I can put the heat lamp in there, then open the door when it’s warm during the day for them to get out and scratch.

I have no idea how this is going to go. I’m hoping at least some of the chicks survive this experiment. They come tomorrow, so I’ll soon find out!

UPDATE: They’re here! Ordered 25 chicks, they sent 1 extra. So 26 chicks, all alive and appear healthy!

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