Saturday, August 18, 2012

Update on Swedish Flower X Chicks

Here's another update on the Swedish Flower X Aloha babies!

I'm so horrible with record keeping, I had to go back to emails sent to friends to figure out exactly when these chicks were born!  What I discovered was the Swedish X Aloha cross eggs were collected during a two week period, so our batch of babies were actually born over a period of 10 days, from June 4, 2012 - June 14, 2012.  This means a few of these babies who appear smaller may "even out" a bit as they near maturity.  I sure hope so, because right now there is a great range of body size.

The Keepers:  (At least, for now!)

Also,  because of my lack of breeder pens here, all the hens were in with the Swedish rooster, including the (one) full-blood Swedish Flower hen.  It looks like some of the chicks are beautiful purebred Swedish Flowers.  Three hens are very large and Mille in coloring, and are carbon-copies of the Swedish hen at the same age.  One of the trio is just a hair smaller than the rest, but even pure Swedish will show some variance in body size, so this does nothing to help us tell if she's a purebred or not.  Either way, these large Mille hens would go great with that Confetti, all-American (Aloha, Buff Rock, NHR) bloodline rooster next door.

That was the rooster who I mentioned was starting to wander to the front yard with his flock of ladies.  Luckily, the neighbors fixed a missing fence board, and this seems to have resolved the problem for now.  Although chickens are crafty creatures, and the neighbor has a very tempting luxurious green lawn that would tempt any chook.  I hope he survives long enough to be borrowed to use in a breeder pen, as I'd love to cross him with what now appears to be a small flock of golden Mille Fleur Swedish.

This is the non-Swedish rooster.
I'd like to cross with Mille Swedish.
That's the very definition of counting your chickens before they hatch, so back to the chickies!  Anyway, these babies are right around 10 weeks old now.  I've gone through and culled the top third to retain for the breeding program, and have culled many very nice babies from the group.  Will be sad to see them go, but the saying is "breed copiously and cull ruthlessly" so the culls are on Craigslist right now awaiting a new home.

Many of the culls are very attractive!
But a lot had gray legs, or less spotting.
Or showed a lot of black.

As for the "keepers" I was especially keeping an eye out for traits that are unique to my strain and not seen in pure Swedish Flowers.  A few that are feathering out look promising.
Red rooster to the right, with large upright comb.  Has yellow legs!
This red and white checked shade is not an existing Swedish color.
"Mystery Color" hen.  Not sure what color this is?

She is much smaller than the (likely purebred) Mille Swedish hen.

This interesting rooster has a lot more white than normal Swedish.
More red and less black feathering.

This hen has a total absence of black on her body mottling.
Similar to the Mille Swedes, but not quite?
Smaller, pink legs, more "messy" pattern.

Possible Confetti rooster?  Too bad the legs aren't yellow!
Their early to mid June birthday means that they could be ready to breed by mid to late December!  If all goes well, these cute new hens could be passing their genes to the next stage of my Aloha project, and chicks by these lovely girls could be shipping by Spring 2013!  Many color genes are recessive, which means as these are crossed together, we could see even more new features in their offspring.

Meanwhile, my boyfriend sounds ready and willing to help me build some new breeder pens, which are desperately needed.  Right now I only have one major "communal" pen plus a 10 X 10 dog kennel that can be used as a breeder pen for a small group.  Previously, one way I could use the communal pen would be to pen the other competing rooster (or roosters) and alternate boys over the same group of hens.  But I'm also dealing with growing out a teenage horde of roosters, plus this new group of babies.  Currently, the babies are in the breeder pen, and EVERYTHING else is in the communal pen (about 20 hens and five roos) so right now it's just a big mess in there.

I'd like to have four breeder/grower pens to start.  Likely two of the pens would be used from time to time for other purposes, perhaps housing youngsters in one pen, and maybe another "bachelor pen" for isolating the growing out roosters.  (Keeping those teen boys from acting like punks to the ladies!)

But I'm still confused about how big I can make each pen and still be able to afford the materials?  And if I use two of the pens for other purposes, is four pens enough?  The large communal pen does work really well in summer, when breeding is done for the year.  Do I really want to have to feed four individual pens year-round?  Makes it a hassle for any potential pet sitter, and I do like to travel a lot.

Argh, it all makes my brain hurt!  If I can just figure this out, my boyfriend is ready to help me forge ahead with the project, but only I can tell him what I want, and right now, I'm still brainstorming!

I'd better get it figured out soon, because we saw our first rays of hope arrived in the last couple of days as our furnace-like 115 temps plummeted all the way down to a balmy 101, which feels like HEAVEN in Phoenix right now!  A reminder that fall hatching season is right around the corner . . .

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