4 Weeks

In this picture you can see one of our new feeders we made from 4″ PVC. You can also see that the bird on the left has toes that are starting to curl or bend ever-so-slightly to the side.

The Freedom Rangers are a month old, they are scruffy, and they are huge! So huge, in fact, I am getting a little concerned. I just now noticed some foot/leg issues with about half (!!) of them that I suspect is from too-rapid growth and perhaps some vitamin deficiency.  What I’m seeing is toes starting to curl to the side as they walk.  After some web-searching, I learned that free-feeding them might not be the best thing. That’s a shame because we built these awesome feeders that have made our lives so much easier.  We only have to refill them every couple of days and the birds can’t poop in them or knock them over.  As a result they are way less wasteful than the tray feeder we were using before.

As for the free-feeding: I had read before that Cornish X will actually eat themselves to death.  As in keel over from eating too much.  That’s not really what I’m seeing with the Freedom Rangers.  The birds aren’t overeating to the point of exploding.  There are always a handful at the feeders but the rest are running around or snoozing, and they seem to rotate in and out of the feeder area pretty freely. But it may be that by having food constantly available, they are putting on weight faster than their feet can handle.

I also read that organic feed often doesn’t have the vitamins that growing chicks need, and that adding some vitamin supplement in their water can clear up leg problems in just a few days. So we’ll be trying that for sure. I also wonder if the rain today has anything to do with the sudden foot problems – perhaps they are less active today than normal and putting on more weight because they’re not expending their usual amount of energy?

Anyway, things are okay, but I have to say the Rangers are seeming less miraculous to me than they were a week ago.