Are you looking for a breed of chicken that can give you both eggs and meat? There are many dual purpose backyard chicken breeds out there, but one is gaining a lot of popularity among chicken keepers. The Red Ranger is primarily a meat bird, but it can also lay more than enough eggs. Not only that, the Red Ranger is a personable bird that is easy to raise.
Here is everything you need to know about the Red Ranger chicken.
Red Ranger Chicken History
First thing’s first: The Red Ranger chicken isn’t actually a designated breed. Although this is a type of red broiler chicken, it is a cross between other breeds, making it a hybrid. Due to the endless strain on the food industry to provide more chicken, Red Rangers were developed as a niche filler. Rather than raising Cornish Rocks or waiting 6 months for other dual purpose breeds to mature, you can use the Red Ranger in the interim to get the meat and eggs you need.
Unfortunately, because the food industry developed this breed, there is little to no paperwork describing where it actually came from. Yes, they lay more eggs and grow meatier than a standard backyard chicken, but their lineage is a mystery. Some hypothesize that Red Rangers are a mix between Rhode Island Reds, New Hampshires, Cornish Rocks, and other meat-producing birds.
Red Ranger Breed Standard and Appearance
Since this isn’t an officially recognized breed but more of a composite bird, there is no breed standard. If you are looking for healthy Red Ranger chickens, look for a balanced body. They shouldn’t have the same amount of developmental problems as the Cornish Cross.
Also, do not confuse the Red Ranger with similarly named breeds, such as Rainbow Ranger, Freedom Ranger, Gingernut Ranger, Leader, and Dixie Ranger. Some breeds, like the Liberty Ranger chicken, are trademarked and have a breed standard.
The Red Ranger is, generally, a healthy looking bird. The feathers are a lightened shade of red. It’s not the same deep red tones of the Rhode Island Red, nor is it entirely brown. The stocky body is similar to the yellow legs — muscular, solid, and smartly built. These are birds made for zipping around the yard, which they do often. However, one thing you will notice is that the breasts do not develop as well as other parts of the chicken.
If you’re looking mainly for breast meat, the Red Ranger might not be the best breed for you.
Keep in mind that these aren’t bred to be show chickens or pets. Red Rangers are very much a chicken in personality and looks, but they aren’t very striking. As a broiler bird, they’re bred for one thing only: food.
Meat, Eggs and Broodiness
Now let’s have a look at the quality of meat and egg production from the Red Ranger chicken breed:
Red Ranger Chicken Meat
Many meat-producing breeds are incredibly hard to raise at home. Take Cornish chickens for instance. Their bodies grow too fast at times, putting strain on their organs and causing early death. You don’t want that.
That’s where the Red Ranger comes in. This chicken does take longer to grow when compared to other broiler breeds. Plus, you can’t expect as much meat as you would on a Cornish chicken. It takes 12-16 weeks before a Red Ranger reaches butchering weight, and even then, you might want the bird to plump up a bit further.
Fortunately, this is a hardy breed that is easy to raise.
One note on the Red Ranger is the quality of the meat. Red Rangers tend to have fattier meat than other breeds, and their breasts are the least developed part of the breed.
Eggs and Broodiness
The creation of the Red Ranger sought to fill a void within the chicken meat industry, not the egg-laying one. Again, the Red Ranger falls into the middle ground, where they supplement other broiler and egg-laying breeds in their endeavors. If you’re looking for chickens that lay a bunch of eggs, then you might be more interested in the Golden Comet, which lays 250-320 eggs a year.
That said, the Red Ranger shouldn’t be underestimated. This breed supplies a fair amount of eggs — around 175 a year.
Red Ranger eggs are medium or large and have light brown coloring. Of course, the size, quality, and frequency depends largely on their food. Be sure to feed your Red Ranger chickens well to maximize their egg output. Red Ranger start laying eggs at 16 weeks old. Since they grow a little more slowly than broiler birds, you also get more time to gather eggs before they get to butchering weight.
As for broodiness, you won’t have to worry much. This breed doesn’t get particularly broody. Furthermore, because they are hybrids, they won’t breed true. You have to continue getting chicks from a hatchery to maintain a flock of Red Rangers.
Red Ranger Personality and Temperament
One of the appeals of Red Rangers is their attitude. They are happy foragers who prefer a cage-free lifestyle. You can expect them to be very independent. However, this also means you can’t keep them in a small space as you would White Broiler or Cornish Cross chickens.
Interestingly, their bright orange coloring gives them some protection from predators. These chickens have good instincts when it comes to survival and evasion, so they are capable of surviving in a free range situation. This is something not typically seen in other broiler birds.
One bonus about having strong foragers is pest control. If you have Red Rangers in your flock, you won’t have to worry about insects running rampant in the yard.
Another trait you don’t often see in broiler chickens is their independence and need to roam. Most of their diet is going to be comprised of what they pick off the ground; this can be a benefit to you, as you won’t pay so much on chicken feed. Furthermore, these chickens aren’t aggressive or overly broody. They will merge well with other breeds and can keep a small or medium-sized flock.
Health and Medical Issues
The hybrid Red Ranger doesn’t have the same issues other broiler birds do. For example, a common problem with Cornish Cross chickens is that they grow too fast and the organs and legs can’t keep up with the size. Red Rangers, on the other hand, grow a little more slowly, so they have a healthy development. In other words, Red Rangers don’t have the same weakness as Cornish Cross birds.
Their life expectancy is around 2 years, which is decent for broiler birds.
Furthermore, Red Rangers are faster, stronger, and have survival instincts that other fast-growing breeds don’t. The downside to these birds, though, is that they can’t breed true with other Red Rangers. Since they are a hybrid, you can’t keep a Red Ranger rooster around and hope the numbers will replenish themselves. Hybrid animals don’t work like that — they’re sterile.
Diet Plan for Red Ranger Chickens
Planning on using your Red Ranger chickens for meat? Then you’re going to have to adjust the diet plan a little bit. Red Rangers, along with other meat birds, grow at a faster rate than their egg-laying peers. That said, when you release meat birds out into the yard to roam, their development slows, because they burn so much energy scratching at the ground.
For Red Rangers, the ideal diet is a chick starter for 16 weeks. Afterwards, place the chickens on a diet of 20% protein and give them plenty of space to forage and roam. You can also give Red Rangers a number of supplemental treats to keep their diet varied. Some examples include apples, celery, tomato, broccoli, cherries, bananas, potatoes, and crickets
Is the Red Ranger Chicken Right for Your Flock?
When you start choosing chickens for your flock, you have to wonder about the compatibility of the breed with your needs and environment. Red Ranger chickens are ideal for larger spaces, flocks with standard breeds, and farms where there is plenty of stuff to forage. So as long as you have space, the Red Ranger chicken might work for you.
They lay a moderate amount of eggs throughout the year, and they can even be used for meat. The Red Ranger is a cost-effective solution for chicken keepers who don’t want to spend thousands on feed each year. Plus, if you just keep Red Rangers for egg-laying, you can expect them to live a long and healthy life.
In short, the Red Ranger chicken is a cross-breed designed for both meat and egg production. If you are looking for both, then this could be the breed for you. Easy to care for and maintain, these birds are great for smaller flocks and those trying to budget.
Valerie has been content writing since 2016 for websites and companies all around the world. A traveler, dancer, martial artist, Valerie loves gathering experiences and wisdom. Her travels have taken her to over 20 countries, and she hopes to see more of the world soon.