There is a wide array of chicken species available in the world. Hybrid breeds are produced with different characteristics from pure breeds making things even more confusing for novice chicken keepers. Understanding the details of chicken breeding can be complicated. A popular hybrid is the Red Ranger Chicken. Chicken keepers may want to know how to breed them and what important factors you need to know.
Red Rangers are hybrid chickens produced by mating Rhode Island Red Chickens or New Hampshire Red Chickens with meat birds such as Delawares or Cornish crosses. Hybrid chickens do not breed true. Therefore, the first generation from the crossbreed will be significantly different from subsequent generations.
Genetics is an interesting subject, and inherited traits are noticeable in chickens due to their rapid growth and early sexual maturity. Therefore, to better understand the complexities of breeding hybrid chickens, it is essential to have some basic genetic knowledge.
What Breed Is A Red Ranger Chicken?
Red Ranger chickens are not an officially licensed breed. Instead, they are hybrid chickens with no regulations or stipulations on what breed chickens to breed to create them.
Generally, Red Rangers derive by using Rhode Island Red or New Hampshire Red chickens as the base stock. Then, these chickens are crossed into meat chickens. Popular choices are Delaware chickens and Cornish crosses.
The aim is to produce a dual-purpose chicken with a slower growth rate than most meat chickens.
Red Ranger hens start laying eggs at sixteen weeks. However, they are not ready to be butchered until they are twelve to fourteen weeks old.
Chicken keepers focused on sustainability and producing healthy birds prefer Red Rangers to meat chickens as they are generally healthier and require fewer antibiotics to get them to the slaughter stage.
Red Rangers typically have red-brown plumage with a solid rectangular body shape. In addition, they have a slimmer chest profile leading to smaller breast meat when slaughtered.
How Do You Breed Red Ranger Chickens?
Organic, sustainable farmers can choose the best breeds to produce the chicken hybrid that works optimally for their farm or enterprise. For example, the farmer may choose Rhode Island Red and breed this to a Delaware chicken. Some chicken breeders even use a three or four-way cross.
For example, Rhode Island Red x New Hampshire Rooster mated to a Cornish x Delaware hen.
The first hybrid progeny from the mating of different chicken breeds is known as the F1 generation. This generation will show more traits from both the parent breeds than subsequent generations.
Therefore, the best dual-purpose birds will probably be from the F1 generation.
If the breeder mated a Red Ranger hen with a Red Ranger rooster, the offspring would be the F2 generation. This is because recessive genes must be present in both parents for the offspring to inherit them.
Using two Red Ranger parents increases the likelihood of seeing recessive genes expressed in the offspring.
Therefore, in the F2 and subsequent generations, the offspring of the Red Ranger chickens will not have predictable traits. These can vary from feather color to maturational age, growth rate, and even health problems.
How Would You Select Chickens For Red Ranger Stock?
If you plan to develop your own Red Ranger stock or line of chickens, you must make careful selections from the chicks you breed.
The chicken breeder must decide on the critical characteristics of the Red Ranger chickens they wish to create. Some examples of qualities may be:
- Color of the plumage.
- Amount of plumage which affects the ease of plucking during slaughter.
- The age that slaughter weights are attained.
- Age at which the hens start to lay.
- Health and vitality.
- Hardiness with respect to weather conditions.
- Ability to forage.
The chicken breeder should breed his first-generation after selecting the foundation stock. Then, from the F1 generation, the breeder must select the chickens that meet his list of criteria.
The selected chickens can be bred together, and once again, only the chosen chickens are bred further. At times it may be necessary to breed back to the parent stock to enhance one of the desirable characteristics.
Are Red Rangers Good Brooders?
Hybrid chickens, particularly Red Rangers, often seem to be poor brooders. The hens do not easily become broody and may not sit for long enough on the eggs. They also sometimes jump up after the first chick hatches, leaving the rest of the chicks to perish in their shells.
Chicken breeders that breed hybrid chickens note that only about five percent of hens become broody, usually when they are well over a year old.
Pure chicken breeds generally have one-third of the hens that become broody within the first year.
If you wish to breed Red Rangers, you may need to invest in some hens known as good brooders, such as Barnevelders or Silkies. Alternatively, you can incubate the eggs artificially to produce the next generation of chickens.
What Are the Benefits Of Hybrid Chickens?
Hybrid chickens have several advantages, some of which you’ll find below.
- Pure breed chickens command a much higher price than hybrid chickens. For the new farmer, hybrid chickens are much more affordable.
- Some people prefer the flavor of hybrid chickens. The opportunity for the chicken to be older at slaughter age provides stronger tasting meat, preferred in many cultures.
- Hybrid vigor refers to the mixed genetic inheritance that gives the chicken a more robust immune system and general health.
- You can choose the characteristics you want in your chickens.
Red Ranger chickens are not a licensed or prescribed breed. They are a mixture of species that result in chickens with red-brown feathering and a solid body.
They are dual-purpose chickens. Breeding first-generation Red Rangers is not tricky. However, subsequent generations may need a careful selection to produce chickens with the desirable qualities.
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