Karen makes all the decisions on the broiler side of the farm. (Actually, she’s in charge of almost everything, these days.) Two years ago, she experimented with the “Freedom Ranger” broilers, which gave mixed results. These were supposed to be more like standard-breed chickens, which they were, with all that this implies, good and bad (which I may go into later).
For many years we got our modern, hybrid broiler chicks locally, from Jenks’ Hatchery in Tangent, Oregon. This worked very well for us, and we had our operation tuned to the strengths and weaknesses of the modern hybrid broiler. These broilers grow like weeds but are lethargic and “don’t act like real chickens” after the first few weeks.
Well, Freedom Rangers went out of business. Jenks’ Hatchery has been mothballed after losing their contract with Draper Valley, so we were forced to try something new.
Karen turned to Privett Hatchery in Portales, New Mexico, which is where we always buy our egg-type pullets. At the moment we’re using their “Slow Cornish” broilers, a white-feathered, broad-breasted hybrid broiler that looks like a modern broiler but acts more like a real chicken (active and alert).
So far, they seem to be on the growth curve in Table 20-10 of the the 1991 edition of “Commercial Chicken Production Manual,” which puts them in the right ballpark. They’re only 6 weeks old right now, and the few we butchered dressed out at 2 lbs. This is too small, of course, but we expect 3.5 lbs. at 8 weeks and 5.75 lbs. at 12 weeks.
This is way faster than standard-breed broilers, which dress out at 2 lbs. at 8 weeks and 3 lbs. at 12 weeks — if you’re lucky. I think it’s also faster growth than the Freedom Rangers provided, though I’d have to dig up Karen’s records to be sure.
So far, so good. It’s a little early to tell at 6 weeks just how they’ll turn out, but I have a good feeling about these broilers. I recommend Privett Hatchery. They’re very good.