Freedom Ranger

Label Rouge chickensWith
Cornish no longer in the running for a permaculture broiler breed
, I’m starting to narrow down
choices for next year’s experiment
.  Freedom Rangers were
near the top of my list, until I did a bit more research.

are Freedom Rangers?

The term “Freedom
Ranger” is merely an American popularization of the hybrid breed
developed for use by French companies operating under the Label Rouge
program.  Label Rouge is a certification process, a bit like “free
range” or “organic” in the U.S.  Their website is difficult to
read if you don’t understand French, but ATTRA put out a
PDF file
about Label Rouge

which is worth a viewing (and from which I stole this image.)

Freedom Ranger parents
come from a few proprietary lines owned by European corporations. 
So, don’t think you can buy a flock of Freedom Rangers and raise your
own, or even start your own breeding flock by growing the two parent
breeds.  Freedom Rangers, like Cornish Crosses, are industrial

Freedom Ranger chickensWhat are their advantages?

Freedom Rangers are
relatively fast growing, but they don’t grow as quickly as the Cornish
Cross.  As a result, they don’t tend to have the high mortality
rates that break so many backyard broiler-raisers’ hearts. 
Freedom Rangers are reputed to grow to 5 pounds in 12 weeks, to be
tastier than Cornish Crosses, but to have less breast and larger legs.

Based on one
backyard experiment
Freedom Rangers seem to have a feed to meat conversion ratio that’s
almost as good as Cornish Crosses — 3.4.

are their disadvantages?

As I mentioned earlier,
we couldn’t create our own self-perpetuating Freedom Ranger flock,
which is a deal breaker for me.  Having to buy chicks every year
makes the meat pricey — the experiment I linked to above ended up
with a cost of $1.73 per pound for Freedom Rangers and $1.47 per pound
for Cornish Crosses.

I’m also not sold on
Freedom Rangers being good foragers.  If they’re so good at
catching bugs, why did they eat so much grain?  I think I’ll let
someone else do that experiment for us and move on to a different breed
for our next batch of broilers.

Our homemade chicken
never spill
or fill with poop.

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