Thursday, July 19, 2012

Fancy Chicken

Label Rouge is what they're France.  They are called that here too.  But mostly, they are known as "pastured poultry" in the US.  These are some pretty unique birds and we received them via mail on June 27th.  Since that time they have grown to four times their original size.  This is not the typical growth rate of your standard barnyard chicken.  These chickens grow to full size in about 12 weeks, at which time they are ready for processing.  A typical laying hen can take 6 months to reach full maturity. 

I have to preface the following by mentioning that I have no affiliation with the hatchery nor any connection to them.  These birds in particular come from the JM Hatchery in PA. They are called "Freedom Rangers".  They are a true meat type. One can tell from simple observation that they are bulky and thick in the legs.  They have been really interesting to raise so far.  While in the brooders, they did not seem to fear humans like other egg breed chicks do.  These chickens quickly learn that humans = food.  They eat; a lot.  And, they grow; fast. When I reached in to place the refilled feeder, some would leap up and try to peck the freckles off my arm.  That dear friends, is a sassy chicken.

Today, as I tended them, I watched as they aggressively hunted for the bugs in their pen.  Let's face it, when your body grows that fast, you'd better be eating something to fuel it.  I saw one chick take a hop-flight in pursuit of a scarab dung beetle that haplessly flew into their pen.  The chick caught it, and in doing so alerted his pen mates to the tasty treat.  Then, the chick with the bug did the typical chicken with a bug prize evasive maneuvers.  About 4 chicks were in hot pursuit.  Just in time I set the feeder back in the paddock and the chasers left the chick to his bug snack.

More on these later, I am sure that they will more than keep us amused. These photos were taken last Sunday afternoon.  And today the chicks are noticeably larger.

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