We raise a different breed of meat birds compared to most people. We enjoy raising a breed called Freedom Rangers or Red Rangers. They are the same breed, however, they are referred to by both names. We like them because they truly "free-range". We don't put them in a movable cage, they get to come and go as they please and wonder through the pasture, however, they typically don't go too far from their movable home on wheels. We call this home of theirs the Chicken Shack. They get their grain, water and shelter from in or around the shack.
Thankfully for our amazing dogs, they help to make this all possible by keeping the birds safe from predators. Just like our laying hens, we grind our own chicken feed for the meat birds, going with a soy-free diet. It is however a much greater challenge to feed these guys compared to the layers. They need a much higher protein in their ration to ensure proper growth. It is very difficult to find a feed source with a high protein comparable to soy. What we have found and have used in place of soy is fish meal and black beans. The fish meal gets the protein up so they can continue to grow as if they were being fed soy. The problem with it is that, it's very costly. The other problem is that these birds take 11-12 weeks to finish where the typical hybrid meat bird only takes 6-8 weeks to finish. The end result is what we feel to be a much much healthier product and one that we can be proud of but it is also a more costly product when it's all finished.