Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Mysterious Orange Color

Now, I've long suspected a link between the strange mottled colors in my chickens, and the "game fowl" chickens.  This is for several reasons.  First, mottled colors are found in fighting chickens, although they aren't historically bred for color.  They were bred for fighting.  But the mottled color exists in Games, and breeds very easily in Game Fowl. 

Second, proximity - my strange Banty was found in Southwest Phoenix, and I've seen many game stock bred chickens in the neighborhood.  Third, was type - while Oddball the Banty (who started this whole line) was a short, round, banty-type hen, her "kids" have grown into, lanky, game-type bodies. 

A funny thing happened this last spring, however, when I noticed a young rooster in a strange orange color.  Orange.  No other word for it.  It was too dark for buff, too light for red, and weirdest of all, where the tail feathers should have been black, they were darker, but it was this soft cocoa-brown color instead. 
My homebred rooster "Pumpkin" now owned by Laree.

Right after I spotted this young roo developing, I saw this ad on Craigslist, advertising a "Punkin Game Rooster" for $150, not five miles from my house!  What was a "punkin game" and why did it look so much like my rooster?

NOT my chicken - Advertised for sale near my home on Craigslist.

I soon found there is a line of Game chickens called "Pumpkin Hulsey" and I've also seen "Yellow Birchen" and "Ginger" listed as this color.  This web site has lots of info, and apparently, this color in Game Fowl has been spotted long ago in England, and also today in the Phillipines.  Here's a great web site with more info:

At this point that "Pumpkin" the rooster appeared, we were getting into some serious linebreeding.  Linebreeding is a great way to pull out those recessive genes, and apparently, this new color was in there somewhere!

I gifted "Pumpkin" to my friend Laree, where he will be used as her new flock leader. 

"Pumpkin" in his new home at Laree's place. 

And, I was blessed with yet another new boy to keep here, who I have now named "Butterscotch".

"Butterscotch" my second mottled roo in this color.
Note he is lighter in color, and has more white in his tail.

Depsite the fact that this color appears to come from "fighting" bird lines, I've found that strangely, both Pumpkin and Butterscotch have been the meekest, mildest, lowest in the pecking order roosters of the whole bunch.  Go figure! 

Check out his tail feathers - all that same reddish cocoa color.  Not a fleck of black anywhere.

Enjoy the pics.  Note that Butterscotch has a lot of growing up to do still, it will be several months before he fully matures, and even at maturity, he will be a small rooster.  I plan on penning him with some larger hens, to compensate for his lack of size. 

I definately want to cultivate this color, though I suspect it is a recessive color, and may be tough to reproduce reliably at first.  However, all birds with this color will be kept for the program.

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