Red Ranger Chicken: The Complete Care Guide

Red Ranger Chicken The Complete Care Guide Blog Cover

The Red Ranger has become quite popular as a dual purpose backyard breed. It is primarily a meat bird but does lay eggs if it is allowed to.

We have received a couple of inquiries regarding this particular bird, so here is what we have discovered about this personable little chicken.

Technically they are not actually a breed, but instead a hybrid chicken created by the poultry industry for improved egg laying and meat.

Keep reading this article to learn if the Red Ranger is the right chicken for you. We discuss how to care for them, expected egg laying and much more…

Background and Overview of the Red Ranger

Red Broiler HenThe Red Ranger is a type of red broiler.

They were introduced to the market as ‘niche fillers’. Many people did not want to wait 6 months in order to butcher heritage dual purpose breeds, but neither did they want to raise bland Cornish Rocks for meat.

Specific information about the Red Ranger is as rare as …well, hens’ teeth.

This is a composite bird, the parents of which can only be speculated about – there is no firm information about the genetics or lineage of this hybrid bird. These birds were built to lay more eggs and grow more meat than the standard backyard fowl of the day, more bang for your buck as it were.

They likely took the best layers of the day – Rhode Island Reds, New Hampshires and others and crossed them with the best meat birds – Cornish Rocks, Delaware and perhaps others too.

Working with these and other breeds they have managed to improve not only egg laying but table quality by having a slower maturing bird.

Red Ranger Chicken Purchase Red Ranger Chickens

Meat, Egg Laying and Broodiness

They are generally known as a dual purpose bird.

However they are slightly more of a meat bird than a laying hen.

They start laying eggs at around 16 weeks old, and, once fully grown, will give you 3-4 light brown eggs per week.

As far as broodiness goes, they are not renowned for going broody and will not breed true anyway due to their hybrid genes.

Breed Standard

Red Ranger ChickensAs this bird is a hybrid, there is no recognized official standard.

Appearance

As implied from its’ name, the Red Ranger is red in color – not the deep mahogany of the Rhode Island Red but a lighter shade of honeyed brown.

The body is a solid rectangular shape and their yellow legs are very muscular and strong. The breast is not so well developed leaving some to complain about the lack of breast meat (if raising for meat).

Confusion with Other Breeds

The Red Ranger is often confused with other breeds of similar names – Rainbow Ranger, Freedom Ranger, Dixie Ranger, Pioneer and Gingernut Ranger to name a few.

The Freedom Ranger is slightly different in that it is a trademarked ‘item’.

Essentially, they are all red broiler birds but they come from different hatcheries and therefore have a variety of names. Certainly, they all look pretty much the same and it would be difficult for most people to tell the difference between them.

Hatcheries have learned over time that calling a bird by a more personable label than ‘red broiler’ or product ‘T 143’ attracts more people to the breed!

Health Issues and Diet

This is a pretty healthy bird despite being known as a dual purpose broiler breed.

Usually, the older types of broilers (especially the Cornish Cross) have all sorts of problems if they are allowed to grow to full size. In fact, many die from heart failure and other such issues before adulthood.

The rapid growth and weight are not sustainable and the bird will die from its body’s inability to sustain it.

However, with the Red Ranger and other newer hybrids, they appear to not have those issues. Folks who have raised them have kept them for up to two years without noting any significant health issues.

Feeding Meat Birds

In general, meat birds require a different feed to laying hens. The protein content needs to be higher since they are growing at such a fast rate.

Since Red Rangers are more akin to dual purpose birds, use chick starter/grower for the first 16 weeks and then it would be acceptable to give them 20% protein, especially if they are free ranging.

In addition to their pellet feed, you can also give them a variety of treats.

Is the Red Ranger Right For You?

Red Ranger ChickenIf you are looking for chickens that will lay eggs for you at a reasonable rate and can later be used as table fare, the Red Ranger could be your bird.

They are often compared to the Cornish Cross as a suitable replacement for a meat bird.

Cost wise, the Ranger will cost a little more in feed, but not that much. Although they may live longer, they do free range and gather much of what they need from ranging.

While the Cornish Cross will sit by the feeder and gorge themselves into a food coma, the Red Rangers actually prefer to be out and about foraging for food – and they do a pretty good job of it too.

Summary

If you prefer a meat bird that has had the luxury of a somewhat normal existence, the Red Ranger will do you nicely.

In Continental Europe there has been a huge move away from the fast growing birds. People have become more aware of how inhumanely many of the fast growing chickens were treated and have actively campaigned against such treatment.

The Ranger will live a relatively normal chicken lifestyle.

However, if you prefer to keep your chickens a little longer than a few months, perhaps the old dual purpose chickens will better suit your needs –at least you will know that you will be getting eggs too.

All in all, they are a good choice for a dual purpose hen, the only drawback being the fact that they don’t breed true – but I suppose you can’t have everything!

Have you kept Red Rangers before? Let us know in the comments section below…

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Comments

    • Nicholas Parry says

      I used to never consider it but when you have as many roosters as I have, you just cull the ones that are mean. I would never allow a moody rooster to breed with my hens either. If you can’t do it yourself, have someone assist you, we had trouble culling birds we’ve raised but when you have enough chickens you’ll understand it has to be done for the health of the flock if anything. One bad rooster can even screw up your egg laying production by stressing your hens.

  1. Nichole Weldon says

    I am enjoying my Red Rangers that I am currently raising; they have had the best temperament compared to other chickens I have raised. They have been quite docile and appear to thrive on attention that I tend to shower on them. They do grow incredibly fast. It’s amazing to see; I have black langshans and I thought they grew fast!

  2. Diann T says

    I had 4 straight run red broilers (evidently these rangers) last summer – they grew fast, and ended up in the freezer at about 21 weeks (took a while to find someone who could show me the ropes for harvesting them). Ideal would probably be 15-16 weeks. The roosters benefited from low and slow roasting/simmering – the lone hen is still waiting her turn in the freezer.

  3. Gregory wierschke says

    I butcher a lot of chickens every year. I have noticed how oily and fatty red rangers are. The fat runs off of them when they are on the drying rack waiting to get bagged. They are overall healthy just fatty.

  4. Michael Briggs says

    When we first got into the chicken craze, we only held them as a hobby, keeping them as more pets than resources. Thus, rather than comment on their productivity or usefulness, I can only say these are the nicest birds you could hope for. Natural lifespan ranges from 2 to upwards of 6 years, but due to their bulky nature they’re rather slow to avoid predators. Watch out for hawks, owls, and coyotes when raising them. These birds do not generally express a desire to brood, but when chicks are hatched, even the roosters take on a very maternal role. However, when they get older, they’ll take to their maternal instincts and gather eggs from other nests to, albeit very gently, brood over. This can cause breakage due to their large size and habit of gathering every egg they can. Overall, they are kind, gentle, and motherly, and the best bird I’ve ever had the pleasure of raising.

  5. Dennie Mason says

    I just got my first 2 hens bought them for eggs and meat but they are almost 5 lbs and only 3 1/2. Months old

    • Cody says

      It means that if you breed a red ranger hen with a red ranger rooster, you’re not going to end up with a red ranger chick; you’re going to end up with chicks that show traits of all the different chickens these chickens were bred from; there’s really no telling what you’ll get.

      That’s especially concerning if they bred with any meat specific birds that have very short natural life spans because of their size, you could end up with chickens with heart issues and the like.

      I may be mistaken, and glad to be corrected if I am.

  6. Mary Farrell says

    I totally agree with the folks that commented about these birds being the nicest. I’ve raised many different breeds of chickens over the years and these guys are the most laid back. I just butchered a few at 12 weeks and the rosters came in at 7 lbs, hens at 5-6.

  7. Greg Snow says

    Raising Reds I have 25 in a chicken tractor to butcher in the fall they are doing great no issues they have a smaller breast but it is almost as moist as the dark meat. If you want a great broiler I recommend delicious.

  8. Tim says

    That seems to be a trait as numerous comparative raisings using Cornish crosses have produced the same. The red broilers (red/freedom rangers) actually had more subcutaneous fat deposits than the CX. It was unexpected. Upon further contemplation it makes sense. The CX are genetically breed to maximize protein synthesis (protein conversion into lean body tissue/muscle tissue). This is an extremely energy costly process and thus very little extra fat storage is possible as the genetics allow LBM development that can actually exceed that of the birds ability to take in nutrients without morality.

    Red Broilers on the other hand are medium rate growers they are still feed higher protein feeds and for longer periods. This allows more time and energy to be used to energy storage(fat accumulation).

    Now commercial raised CXs may have more subq fat. I known the COSTCO supplied rotisserie chickens are some fatty chickens. Most subq fat I have seen compared to any home raised CX or RBs.

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