I didn’t order the weather, but I did order the chicks. Granted, 125 of the birds are going to homes other than my own, but…I do have method to the madness of ordering chicks in July.
Chicks, let’s be clear, are a lot of work! I find it best to let a hen raise them (either her own or foster birds) and that has worked for me in the past, but a 100% farm-hatched meat bird operation has not. So I order in, and play Mother Hen myself. If I have to raise them myself, I find the best time to do so is when it is warm, even hot, outside. I only need the lamps on overnight for that first crucial fluffy week.
I supplement the home-hatched roosters with a slow-growing meat bird, tractored out on pasture. Last year we received 25 Freedom Ranger birds. I loved the taste and tenderness, and they grew out quickly, but…the first week was tough as I lost three chicks, and all three chicks plus three more experienced spraddle leg. Spraddle leg can be caused by three things: a too-slippery surface (like their transport box) for the first few days of life, old eggs, or a food deficiency. It takes two days for the chicks to reach us by mail (coming from Pennsylvania! go figure!) and if it happens to these birds, that’s it, no more Freedom Rangers for me.
Considering it’s one of the most commonly asked questions I get, I will document the care of these birds a bit more than I have done in the past. They’ll be here until October, and then they’ll hang out in our freezer. Stay tuned.