Raising Ranger Meat Chickens
Until this last summer, I had only raised White Cornish cross broiler chickens. They were familiar, less expensive and grew to butcher weight in a quick 7 weeks. I had always been curious about the Ranger breeds and how they differ in comparison to the Cornish cross. But since they were unfamiliar and priced a bit higher, I had been avoiding them. This past summer I decided to give Rainbow Rangers a try and I was extremely impressed.
I placed my order for twenty Rangers; ten Rainbow Rangers and ten Gray Rangers. When I received my order, I started them off in the brooder as I have done with all of my other day-old chicks.
Within the first couple of weeks I noticed a few differences:
- They did not devour their starter feed like the White Cornish cross broilers do
- They acted more like egg layer breeds
- They didn’t seem to grow as quickly
- They were not as fragile
Ranger broiler chickens are ideal for a pastured or free-range environment. I personally raised my Ranger broilers in a chicken tractor which I found was best for me and my homestead. It allowed me to keep them away from predators a bit better but allowed them plenty of greenery to munch on as we moved the tractors every couple of days.
I quickly learned that I did not need to feed them 12 hours on and 12 hours off in order to prevent sudden chicken death from overeating. It was summer time and our temperatures were quite warm, with highs in the mid to upper 80’s and lows in the high 60’s at night. I was able to transfer my Ranger chicks into my chicken tractors as early as 2.5-3 weeks.
From the first day until they were 3 weeks old, I fed a 23% protein non-GMO chick starter feed. Then from 3 weeks until processing date, I fed 20% protein non-GMO grower feed.
- Rainbow Rangers- processed at 10 weeks and dressed out around 4.5-5lbs
- Gray Rangers- processed at 11 weeks and dressed out around 4.5-5lbs
*Please note that the weights above are averages. I did have some birds dress out at more than 5lbs and a few that were under 4.5lbs.
I have to say that Ranger broiler chicken by far is some of the best chicken I have tasted. It was deliciously more flavorful than the Cornish cross broiler chicken and tasted much like a darker meat. I will still continue to raise both the Cornish cross broilers and the Rainbow Rangers for variety, but the Ranger broilers are now my new favorite meat bird to raise for my family’s dinner table.
Find More Tips Regarding Meat Chickens on
The Coop with Meyer Hatchery Podcast
Raising meat birds can seem daunting, especially when faced with which breed is right for you. Listen to our podcast to find a breakdown of meat chicken breeds along with our interview with Adam Danforth, author of Butchering Chickens!
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Awesome article. Thank you!
Thank you for reading, Daniel!
I am impressed by your dedication to sharing with those of us who are looking for information regarding breed type and dressed out weight. I raise my chickens for egg production and am a big fan of the ones mentioned in your article, for just that. I have however, wondered at how they differed as a meat bird in the event I was to process them instead.
With the information in your article, I now feel confident in my decision to continue using these breeds as an all around versatile bird.
Thanks again! Excellent article.