Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Update on the Fall 2011 Chicks

I've only managed to hatch out about 24 Alohas this fall, way less than my "normal" hatching schedule.  (Been traveling a lot!)  Four chicks were hatched out naturally when a hen took over and I didn't have the heart to break up her nest.  The other 20 or so chicks were hatched in an incubator, around Thanksgiving.

First up, the four October chicks!  Here's two of them shown at a month old:

Two of the four October chicks, at one month old.  
The chick in the background has since completely lost his spots.
He now appears solid buff!  
The other chick appears below.
The only one of the four October chicks that I'll be keeping to grow out.
He does have Barring, but his buff mottled color is very unique.

One of the buff mottled chicks has now actually lost his spots - very strange!  He now looks orange with one white wing feather.  He will be culled.  The most promising chick looked very bright red/white mottled, and was very large, but also shows lots of barring and puffy cheeks.  Not helpful.  The hen developed leg issues and was culled.

Which leaves this one baby rooster to grow out for a while.  He too shows barring, but the buff/white pattern has been hard to get:

Getting a nice Buff Mottled chicken has been very tricky.  I wonder why?

Next up - November chicks!  Some were by Cheeto, who was running in the "big pen" with Flame and two other roosters with mostly small Aloha hens, but also I added two large purebred Sussex hens.  So it was a big old mess in there, and I don't know who was with who, exactly.

In the small breeder pen was a HUGE pure Sussex rooster with several big buff hens:

Some of these big yellow hens should have also carried the Mottling genes.  Overall, MANY of these chicks hatched were half Sussex - either their dad was this big Sussex rooster, or their moms were one of the two pure Sussex hens in the main pen.

What is surprising is how much many of these chicks resemble purebred Sussex!  I can't even tell the difference right now.  Can you?

Above and below - NOT pure Speckled Sussex.  Only half.  
But they look like "regular" Sussex to me???
Three are hens and will be kept.  I'm hoping some fun colors are hiding behind that boring brown-ness:
Check out the huge "Sussex" rooster on the bottom right.  He's half Aloha.

I may even keep one of the biggest flashiest Sussex-y roosters, just as a test.  There were absolutely NO Sussex-to-Sussex breedings in this pen!  All of these are only HALF Sussex.  What sort of colors are lurking behind the sea of dark mahogany?  Will all sorts of colors pop out next time?  Or is the Sussex mahogany color just that strong?

For those of you working with your own Aloha programs - this is why you need to introduce other breeds into the mix.  Sussex color is very dominant, so try to mix in some New Hampshire Red or Buff chickens to break this color up.  I have been reluctant to introduce a lot of Sussex blood into the program.  It needs to be added as a "dash" or else you end up with what looks like a really lousy flock of purebred Sussex.

Of the seven Buff chicks (probably sired by Cheeto) in the November hatch, several showed mottling at first, but like the previous October buff chick, the delicate mottling is simply fading away.  These buff roosters were re-homed.  Three of the chicks did show buff/white - but WAY too much white!  Those were also rehomed.

Too much white, or not a enough white, what a mess!  Nine buff and white chicks total.  Only the one guy shown HERE had the perfect mix of yellow and white:

Buff Mottled - only this fellow is the perfect blend.  
Everyone else was culled, too much white, or not enough.
Buff Mottled is proving to be a "tricky"color so far!

Many other chicks showed too much barring, all over.  Nice, but you have to watch the Barring gene, it can become dominant in a jiffy.  Use it sparingly!  Ha ha.  These will also be culled.

Beautiful!  Yet barred.  Lots and lots of Barred chicks in this group.
Another barred beauty that will be culled.  

Which leaves me with a few hens that look exactly like Sussex hens (but are really only half Sussex - so hopefully they will give me some new colors when bred to the right roosters.)  And one rooster who is a good mix of Buff and White, but sadly has the barring.  (I may cross him with the half Sussex hens?)  But he's the only decent yellow/white so far.  Besides the barring on the buff/white guy, he's also kind of small.

And last, there is this rooster:

The best rooster prospect so far.  Light brown, decent white, no barring so far.  
Good size.  Will see how he grows out.

This guy has gorgeous light brown color and white flecks.  Looks very promising!  Best of all, he looks NOTHING like a Speckled Sussex.  Ha ha!  It's pretty tough to make it into the Aloha program here!  If they're lucky - six chicks might make it into the breeding pen for next season.  Will update on the remaining roos and the few hens as they grow out.

More chicks in the brooder . . . more eggs in the incubator . . . here we go again!

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