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Red Free Range Broiler

red free range broiler

Red Free Range Broiler

For years, the Cornish Cross broiler dominated the meat market because of its dependability in feed conversion rates and its quick rate of gain, making it great for large and small poultry producers.  Where it lacked was flexibility in its living environment, and its lazy tendencies.  The Red Free Range Broiler makes up for what the Cornish Cross Broiler lacks, and has many desired features such as free ranging.

The Red Free Range Broiler is a wonderful forager and can have a very efficient feed conversion rate because of its expertise in foraging.  This makes them great for free range or pasture raised operations.  They are resilient birds that can be raised in almost any environment, but prefer to be running around yards and pastures finding their own food.  The Red Free Range Broiler has been bred to do this and the parents are just as tough as their offspring.

These free range birds do not finish off as quickly as the Cornish Cross Broiler.  The Red Free Range Broiler takes about 12 weeks to reach maturity.  The window for processing the birds is much bigger than its Cornish counterpart.  The Red Free Ranger is a very energetic bird that somewhat resembles a Rhode Island Red.  This allows the Red Free Range Broiler to remain healthier for a longer period of time after they reach maturity.

Their breast meat is comparable to the leg meat of the Cornis Cross.  The breast meat is longer, more firm, and has dark meat qualities making the meat taste better and more desired with consumers.  The quality in the meat itself makes it worth raising the Red Free Range Broiler.  The males will reach six to seven pounds at ten weeks and the females reach five to six pounds at ten weeks.  Their dressed weight averages 70% of the live weight.  This bird has yellow legs, yellow skin, and red plumage with dark brown or black feather tips at the end of their wings and tail feathers.

The Red Free Ranger Broilers were developed by the French Broiler Industry.  They are increasing in popularity across America because of their wonderful qualities.  The breed is so dependable, and with all of the wonderful qualities is possesses.  They are a great alternative meat bird to add to your flock or farm.

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The Barred Plymouth Rock

The Barred Plymouth Rock

In 1931 famed American artist Grant Wood created one of his best-known paintings featuring one of the most productive of all chicken breeds.   Called Appraisal, the painting shows two women, one holding a Barred Rock chicken.  Apparently, they are negotiating the price of the bird even as they “appraise” each other.

Of the dozens of chicken breeds, it’s not surprising that Grant Wood chose the Barred Plymouth Rock to paint.  He loved the alternating black and white barring that gives the bird its name, and it was also the most popular American chicken breed for most of the first half of the 20th Century.  The artist likely saw Barred Rocks foraging in nearly every farmyard of his native Iowa.

Although, the Barred variety is best known, the birds technically should be called the Barred Plymouth Rock.  It is the most desired of at least eight other Plymouth Rocks, including the White, Partridge, Columbian, and Silver Penciled.  White Plymouth Rocks are also popular and share the good traits of the Barred Rocks.

Barred Rocks were developed in Massachusetts in the mid 1800’s and were accepted as a breed by the American Poultry Association in 1874.   Supposedly, the breed was named after the rock where the Pilgrims set foot in North America in 1620.   Although the Barred variety was first developed, various other colors were added as the years went by.

It is not surprising that Barred Rocks were once common on American farms and today are one of the preferred breeds in backyard flocks.  They are attractive, easy to care for, and are wonderfully productive.   Although most people today keep them for the 200 to 280 light to medium brown eggs each hen lays in a year, they get husky enough to provide a tasty chicken dinner.  Roosters grow upwards of 9 ½ pounds with hens tipping the scale at about 7 ½.  Unlike specialty egg laying breeds, like hybrid brown egg layers or White Leghorns, or meat hybrids, Barred Rocks are true dual purpose birds.   They may not lay quite as many eggs as hybrids but they come close.

Barred Rocks love to forage. Because they aren’t good flyers, they are easy to confine in an outdoor run.   They also seem content if they must spend their lives indoors.  Occasionally a hen will grow broody and raise a clutch of chicks, but mostly they just keep laying.   Barred Rocks are even tempered and not excitable like Leghorns or many other white egg breeds.  Hens are also relatively quiet.  Although they seem to enjoy cold weather, they also thrive in summer’s heat.    When all their traits are combined, they make one of the very best backyard chickens.

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Wyandotte Chickens

Wyandotte Chickens

The Wyandotte chickens are one of the best breeds for small backyard chicken flocks. They are gorgeous, tame, hardy, and good layers of light brown eggs. The Wyandotte breed was developed from the Hamburg and Dark Brahma chickens. The breed was named to honor the Wyandot Tribe of Native Americans who lived in the Great Lake area. This breed was developed in the 1870’s but has no historical relation to the tribe.

Like the Cornish Rocks, Rhode Island Reds, New Hampshire Reds, Jersey Giants, and a few other breeds, Wyandotte’s are true classic American chickens that were developed during the golden age of poultry in the late 1800’s. Unlike most of the other breeds in America, Wyandotte’s have rose combs. This makes them somewhat more resistant to frostbite than breeds with single combs. They excel in cold climates and often wander outside on wintry days when other breeds stay in the coop.

Wyandotte’s come in many color variations. Some sources list as many as 14 different color variations Silver Laced, Golden Laced, Black, Blue, Buff, Columbian, Silver Penciled, and White are the best-known colors. Silver Laced Wyandotte’s are the most familiar type and are a true classic American chicken. Of all the dual-purpose chicken breeds, Silver and Golden Laced Wyandotte’s may be the most attractive. Wyandotte roosters average about 8 ½ pounds and hens about 5 ½ pounds. They are curvy, solid birds and meaty enough for a tasty meal. The Wyandotte hens are good layers. Expect about four light-brown eggs a week, or around 200 a year. That’s not quite as many as Rhode Island Reds, or brown egg hybrids lay, but it’s better than many other classic breeds.

Wyandotte’s are gentle quiet birds that aren’t flighty. Although they love being outside, where they scratch for worms, bugs, and seeds, they rarely try to fly over a fence. Hens occasionally go broody and are good mothers. They Wyandotte’s can be a bit vocal and once they start, it can turn into their favorite past time. Their vocal-ness is the only less desired quality of this chicken. The Wyandotte’s have a strong but docile chicken personality and are great for both the first-time chicken owner and the chicken enthusiast. They will also incubate eggs from other breeds and are good sitters when broody.

People who keep chickens in backyard flocks can choose from dozens of breeds but, the Wyandotte’s may be the very best at combining an interesting history, with a beautiful bird that is easy to care for and an outstanding producer of meat and eggs.

This article was provided by Hoover’s Hatchery.

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Orpington Chickens

Orpington Chickens

The Orpington is one of the very best dual purpose chicken breeds for a small backyard flock. Because of they are tame and relatively quiet, the Orpingtons are ideal birds for suburban and urban back yards. The breed’s feathers keep them toasty during chilly nights, and the relatively small single combs on Orpington hens are less likely to freeze than much larger combs on some other breeds.  Hot summers don’t seem to faze them either.

 Orpingtons may be the very best breed for poultry newcomers too and are outstanding for children to care for.  A small flock by these gentle hens tended by a child with parental supervision might stimulate a lifelong poultry hobby.  Be sure that children, and anyone else handling chickens or items in the coop, thoroughly wash their hands when they are done.

Popular Plymouth Rocks, Rhode Island, New Hampshire Reds, and Wyandottes were developed in the United States and have the bright yellow skin favored by American chicken eaters. Brits prefer white skin on their eating birds, so the Orpington was developed with pearly white skin and shanks to appeal to European tastes.

Orpingtons are big. Roosters sometimes tip the scale at ten pounds and mature hens eight. Because of their fluffy feathers, they look even bigger than they are.  Hens aren’t egg laying slackers.  Although they might not lay quite as many as hybrids or Rhode Island Reds, Orpington hens each produce about 200 light brown to pinkish eggs a year. They sometimes go broody and are attentive mothers. Few sights are as endearing as a baby chicks peeking out from mom’s golden feathers.