Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Hen Highlights - Orpington Cross

Since I've showcased some of the roosters, I thought I'd do the same for a few hens.  I don't name many of my hens, so it's kind of hard to keep them straight.  I have it all in my head but it doesn't make it easy to identify them to others.  I suppose some sort of numbered leg bands need to be ordered!

Anyway, here's a very interesting hen, one of the oldest in the flock:

On the left, daughter of Vanilla.

Her story is, when I first started this project, I didn't have any adult "outside" breeds for improving size.  My friend Kathleen had these two GORGEOUS hens in her backyard.  They were sort of like Orpingtons, and had a lot of Buff Orp in them, but were actually "mutts" created from multiple generations of random-bred chickens in her yard.  They were prettier than any Orp I'd ever seen, deep dark gold with dashes of black on their feathers.  Absolutely stunning!

Vanilla, her dad. 
That's not her mom, that's a full EE'er hen, for size comparison.  Vanilla was not a small rooster.

At the time, my foundation rooster, Vanilla, was running about.  These two mutt Orp hens were crossed with him.  Unfortunately the hens arrived almost exactly when this massive illness of some kind nearly wiped out the entire project.  Both hens were lost, about a month later.

Thankfully, some of their eggs made it into the incubator.  This hen resulted.

So, this hen is half Aloha, granddaughter to the original tiny hen Oddball.  Despite this, she is HUGE.  Nearly as large as a full Speckled Sussex:

Half Aloha, but nearly as big as a Sussex.

She was bred to an Aloha roo last spring.  You'd think she'd give me spotted chicks.  Right???

She was bred to this colorful rooster last season.

Her babies were just big yellow hens.  No spots!

One daughter has dark brown eyes.  That's strange.  The other has orange eyes like most of the Aloha stock.  I'm hoping we'll finally get spots on the third generation.  Her daughters are in with a Speckled Sussex rooster right now. 

I don't know if they are laying yet.  I'm only getting one egg every couple of days.  Which means only one of these hens is laying right now:

Her brown-eyed daughter, with a pure Sussex roo.

Sometimes, genetics can be SO frustrating!  With all that color in her background, you'd think we would see some spots again soon?  Crossing my fingers . . . see what happens . . .

Meanwhile, the momma hen was in with the Sussex roo for a while, in a special pen with her, her two daughters, and another big yellow hen that is part Buff Rock.  (Sister of Cheeto.)  When I first put this pen together, she was the only hen laying in that pen, and I should have her eggs hatching out right now!  See, here she is in with him last month:

She's the hen on the bottom left.

But, she snuck out of the pen.  Somehow.  It's covered except for one tiny spot, so that was quite an accomplishment.  Now she's been running about, and I saw Flash jump on her, and then Cheeto.  My goodness.  Now, I'll still be hatching her eggs, of course, but who knows what I'll get?  And there will be no way to know who is the daddy.   So if I do get something nice, how will I know which rooster is the best one to cross her with to get more?  Argh!

Anyway, tonight I'm off, flashlight in hand, to sneak into the coop at night, catch her, and put her back in with this Sussex rooster!  Let's try this again.

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