Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Cheeto's Pack of Chicks!

Back in January, I'd set up Cheeto, my big "orange" rooster, with a select group of my very favorite hens.  These hens all carried color, but more than that, despite being small they had nicely shaped bodies without any of that "gamey" look that the original Aloha stock tends to favor.

These hens were kept exclusively with Cheeto for one month and never once mixed with any other roosters.  The idea was to see if Cheeto actually carried the genes for color.  Odds are actually against it - as Cheeto is 75% "big chicken" and only 25% Aloha.  Which basically meant a one in four chance that Cheeto carried the recessive genes for spotting.

Well, good news!  Today all 13 chicks hatched are all alive and well.  And four of them are really colorful!

They are almost six weeks old at this point.  
And here are photos of three of those babies that appear to be roosters:
Chick #1 (above and below)

Chick #2 (above and below)

Chick #3 (above and below)

Color?  Oh yeah, we got color!

There seems to be one hen chick with color, shown below:

The rest of Cheeto's chicks are mostly solid buff, but a few show tiny bits of white here and there.  Those teeny white specs very well may fade out as the chickens mature, but even if they fade, it clearly "marks" those chicks as carriers of the mottling gene.

Which leads me to the final comment of this post . . .

There were several half Buff Rock chicks that I hatched out last year.  Why did I pick Cheeto?

One day, I was feeding the chicks, who were about three months old at the time.  Cheeto moved his wing a little bit, and there on the very teeny tiny tip of ONE single feather was a trace of white.  I have never really found this feather again, by the way!  The amount of white was THAT small.  Just a trace!

I pounced on Cheeto, and immediately carried him to the house, and tagged his leg with a blue zip tie.  He carried that tag until adulthood, as he was identical in every other way to the several buff chicks I'd hatched from this cross.

A few years ago, I had a hen out of mottled dad, who was solid except for one white wing feather.  When I crossed her back to a mottled rooster, she gave me some of the most colorful chicks I'd ever seen!  So keep an eye out for "solid" chickens if you are breeding for Mottled color.

Check them carefully for clues that they carry the gene.  Here's an example of a hen that looks solid but is a mottled carrier.  See the white tip on the tail feathers?  It's the only white she has, but I'm sure her chicks will be quite colorful if she's bred to the right rooster!  Click on the photo below to make it larger, and look carefully at the very end of those tail feathers.

(There is just a teeny tip of white on a couple tail feathers on this girl.)

Color genetics are so much fun!