The heat has NOT let up either - with record highs in October. Breeding shut down, as all roos were rendered sterile. I had a request for chicks in August, and I tried to incubate eggs. Only 3 chicks hatched, out of 42 eggs. Gave more eggs to a friend in September, and she had same results. Gave up on hatching chicks after that, and for a while all my relatives were getting lots of free eggs from me. Everything went on complete hold from mid July until mid October.
Finally, things are on the rebound, and I've got about 150+ fertile eggs developing right now in the cabinet incubator. While days are hot, nights are finally in the 70's again.
This past summer, I did lose three of my best hens, a devastating loss. Strangely, it appears not to heat, but to egg binding, and I've made changes to the diet that I hope will help in the future. It may also have been genetic, as two of the hens were sisters and the other loss was their daughter. They were laying very strangely HUGE eggs, and we even got one that was the mythical "egg inside another egg" which is crazy but really happens, there is a Youtube video of someone else getting one.
|"Regular" Aloha egg next to a strangely huge egg.|
|Remember this guy? Son of the "white" rooster, he survived!|
Now to some good news. I finally have a rooster that I feel is "worthy" of those good hens. (Only one of the four best of 2015 remains, but it's better than nothing.) Here he is:
|ABOUT. FREAKING. TIME.|
(if he is infertile I'm going to scream)
And - he is SPOTTY. Way more white than any other boys that I raised.
The best out of probably 40-50 boys that I started - he stuck out as a great prospect from early on.
Only fault: He needs yellow legs. Otherwise, we're good!
(This is the Aloha rooster goal for maximum amount of acceptable white.)
And more good news, I did get a few hens that are pretty darn close to the quality of some that I lost.
|Here are those yellow legs you wanted!|
|Back up boy - already nice size.|
|Very faintly yellow legs. Better than nothing.|
*The BIG Sussex girls - a mix of Buff Sussex, Speckled Sussex, and Cinnamon Sussex - actually SURVIVED the heat! I'm floored as they are massive gals and they are I think approaching 3 years old? Surviving one summer in Phoenix is a hard task, much less multiples.
Laying is slow on these ladies, and the egg shells are showing abnormalities as they age, but I think I can get a few more babies out of them, hopefully with these bigger and super colorful boys. Previously the only option was to cross them with small colorful boys or bigger more plain boys, as this season is the *first time* we have seen a rooster with tons of white along with absolute decent sizing. I did not lose a single one of these large ladies, so I'm very grateful!
Also it appears we have two of their daughters, one from my flock and one borrowed back from a neighbor:
|BIG BIG girl with great spotting - Buff Sussex lines.|
|OLD PHOTO - showing Buff Turken w/ yellow legs + spindly roo.|
|Very handsome, but small-ish Aloha roo for NN program.|
This boy has also been penned with the Big Sussex Hens as he's got the flash, form and yellow legs.
All he needs is size - and he's not tiny mind you. No where near Bantam, he's about Welsummer size.
The Turken hen is now probably 4+ years so along with my big Sussex girls, I'm running out of time to hatch their chicks. Both the Turken and Sussex lines, while lacking on spots, have good size and body form to improve the Aloha flock in the future.
So my immediate plan: Pen the fabulous big spotty new rooster with my best hens, and get those eggs in the incubator to raise ASAP. It's already done - he is being kept with some lovely ladies right now - but it will still be another month before his DNA is "set".
|Getting acquainted with his lovelies!|
Fighting the heat and keeping everyone alive was a battle but we have a LOT of survivors with the flock very full, in fact I've had to sell a ton of hens because I kept so many extras "just in case". Enjoy some of the pics, there are probably 40-50 hens and 8 or so boys in the flock at the moment.
Many of these hens are showing better size and type, and while not HUGE like the Buff Sussex lines, they are what I would call "standard" size - similar to Welsummer or smaller hatchery Sussex. In fact, I'd ordered some pure Sussex eggs and sold the chicks as they were *smaller* than these chicks raised with them! So the Alohas are getting larger overall, it's just slow going.
And I still could use the boost of a large rooster with tons of white, which I finally have - in the past I had to choose either a small colorful boy, or a bigger plainer boy. Although I've got only *one* boy like that for now - and he can't handle all 50 of my hens - so it's urgent that I cross him with my best big girls to get more good roosters ASAP. That's my first order of business this Fall!
|Congrats, Ladies! You survived 118 degrees! :)|