Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Sussex Influence

As I've been breeding my Aloha flock, in the first generations, I did almost everything I could in order to NOT bring in Speckled Sussex bloodlines.  Why not?  Bringing in Sussex seems OBVIOUS.  They have spots.  Alohas have spots.  Cross them together, and there you go.  Right???

Well, there was some Sussex in the first cross to Oddball, and some "other stuff" in there too, but the problem is, if you bring in too much of any one breed, it will simply begin to take over.

This is a purebred Speckled Sussex hen.

Trust me on this - if you breed one dog (like a poodle) to another dog (like a doberman) the first generation will look pretty much like a confused mess.  However, take those babies and cross them back to either side - a poodle OR a doberman - and very quickly, the next generation will look like one side of the family or another.  Do that another time and most likely, you won't be able to tell the pups from purebreds except for an occasional odd trait popping up - your only clue that something else is hidden back there.   

So, it's important that when I create Alohas, for every "dash of Sussex" that I add an equal "dash of New Hampshire Red" or whatnot.  Otherwise, what you'll get (if you use too much Sussex) is pretty much, what looks like a poorly-bred flock of Speckled Sussex!  Which is totally NOT the point, ha ha. 

This last season was the first time we saw a dash of Sussex brought back into the program.  The hen used was this one, who is 50% Speckled Sussex, and looks pretty much like a "pure" Sussex.  Except, something is kind of "off" about her?  It's like you can't quite put your finger on it . . . . but it's there.

Half Sussex hen, owned by Laree.  Loaned to me last season for breeding.

Okay, so her mom was a Sussex, and her dad was a "first generation" Aloha, which makes her  pretty special.  That's right, this hen's grandma is none other than Oddball the Banty.  Her dad is Patch, Oddball's own son, pictured here.

Of course I was super excited to see the result.  NOW - take everything I say from here on out with a grain of salt, because there is no chicken DNA testing available to me.  However, I had a theory.  The theory was, if I took this half Aloha hen, Patch's half-Sussex daughter, and I bred her to something NOT SUSSEX, then the result would be a baby radically different from a Sussex.  I think these are her daughters.  You tell me if you think it worked, ha ha:

What a difference a generation makes!  Only 1/4 Sussex, now.

If I'm right, this would be the breeding pen, showing the dad, a half Aloha, half New Hampshire Red. 

These young hens do not have the "chipmunk cheek" feathering of some Aloha hens, the faces look more like a NHR or Sussex.  The spots are more evenly arranged, like a Sussex, and not as "messy" in placement as a pure Aloha.

Note this hen has the even spots of a Sussex, but the yellow legs of a NHR.  The NHR/Aloha roo was the only rooster in my pen last year to have yellow legs.  No other roosters or Aloha hens in my pens had yellow legs last year.

In short, this young hen looks nothing like a purebred Speckled Sussex.  Which is exactly what I want!

Now for the exciting stuff - what will happen this year?  Check out this new hen, she also is supected to be only half Speckled Sussex.  Like the half Sussex hen of Laree's, the differences between this hen and a pure Sussex are subtle.  Her color a bit brighter, her spots a bit more vibrant, and unfortunately, her size is a bit smaller. 

Almost a Sussex - but not quite?  Note lighter color from pure Sussex on top of post.

Right now, she is in with Cheeto.  As she crosses with other roosters, we'll see how the chicks turn out.  Hopefully, they will be a radical departure from Sussex in each generation, and we'll cross back and forth.

(Slightly redder base color, small size, big spangles - but pretty much looks Sussex.)

As long as I keep them 50% Sussex or less, and keep plenty of NHR, Buff Rock, and Aloha in there, hopefully we'll get the size up, and create new and radically different colors.  What we don't want is to end up creating something that just looks like a poorly-bred mongrel Speckled Sussex.  LOL!!!!
Left:  Hen that is suspected to be only half Sussex.  Right:  Pure Sussex hen.

This year, I will have two purebred Speckled Sussex hens in the flock.  Right now they are with Cheeto, but they will later be rotated in with Butterscotch and Cinnamon as well.  Some of their babies will probably look pretty much like purebred Sussex, but these 50% Sussex hens will be kept and be used to increase size in the next generation.  It is hoped that in the next generation, I'll be able to pull out more radically different colors. 

1 comment:

  1. I have discovered that in order to use a speckled sussex you need first to remove the black of the feathers and retain the spots, what I did was cross a sussex with a buff columbian, that hen I crossed back to a speckled sussex, and viola two copies of the speckled gene give white speckled buff colored large hens as I used a large breed hen in the first cross, all my current are alohas....Linakas from New Zealand