A whole week in the great outdoors, and our Rudd Rangers are loving the extra space! Each weighs about a pound now. All together they eat 3/4 a feeder full of food per day! All this eating makes for quite a lot of pooping, so I move their tractor twice a day. As soon as the tractor moves onto fresh grass, they hit it hard and start gobbling up all the fresh grass and clover. They truly are great foragers!
It is very tempting to let them outside to free range, but it is simply too dangerous at this stage. They are slightly smaller than half the size of a full grown laying hen, so would be easy prey for a hawk. Luckily, we have had no issues from predators so far. About half of the chicks still sleep on the perch at night, while the other half choose to sleep on the ground, all together in a corner. In the past with other meat birds, I did once have some unknown predator come in the night and dig under the tractor and take a chick. Since the tractor has to be physically moved daily, there are limitations on having it totally bombproof.
At a little over a month old now, and it is getting easier to see which are roosters and which are hens. The hens are slightly smaller and seem to be less saturated and tawny in color. The young roosters have slightly larger combs and are redder. All of the chicks are super friendly. This could be partly because we are around them all the time, and partly from their breeding. I let my daughter go in the tractor with them. She sits on a bucket and the chicks just surround her, and one literally tries to hop into her lap. They are very bold and curious. If you are wearing anything shiny or colorful, they do not hesitate to come up and inspect you with a few pecks. This differs greatly from the many laying chickens I have raised. These truly are friendly birds! This may make processing them extra hard for us, but at least I know they are happy and content in our care.