Sunday, January 27, 2013

Next Project Pen: Little Yellow Legs

Last breeding pen, I placed two sons of the beefy orange guy, "Cheeto" (who was Buff Rock, NHR, and Aloha) in with some colorful hens, to try and improve body type while adding spots.  This next project is all about yellow feet!  Sussex have white/pink legs, and as I've been introducing that bloodline, the legs have been steadily going that direction in my flock.  So, in this next pen, leg color is what I'll be focusing on.

This is the rooster I'll be using.  He's Aloha, very small for a rooster, but he does have a great stout, stocky, round body type.  And he has fabulous yellow legs!  I wish he was larger, for sure, but he's what I have to work with at the moment:

Sure, I'm small.  But aren't I a cute guy???
His ladies are a mix of "everything and the kitchen sink".  

In this pen, I have two half-Sussex hens, including my BIG girl, "Nui".  If this boy adds yellow legs to her big size, we'll be doing great.  The smaller half-Sussex hen has spots galore.  In a perfect world, we'd get babies from her that had tons of spots, and yellow legs to boot.

Nui, the largest Aloha  cross I've ever raised.
I also have three teeny very LIGHT "Confetti" color old-blood Alohas.  We will see ZERO improvement in size.  There will be tiny chicks from this cross!  The best we can hope for is super-colorful little hens with yellow legs, that maybe can be crossed with a larger roo, who could give them the size while they give their chicks some color.

This teeny white Confetti hen next to huge Nui shows size difference.
The rest of the hens are a little of everything in-between.  A "Ginger" hen.  My favorite "Mille" hen, who is small but already has yellow legs and great color.  This cross will be to (hopefully) simply make more just like her.  A larger hen, with patchy "pink and white" colors that is just odd and very cool.  Plus, one big brown mottled hen who is half Swedish Flower.  Maybe she'll add some size.  That's the only hen of Swedish breeding in this batch, which means the majority of this pen will result in All-American Alohas, that will be perfect to cross to pure or half Swedish.

I have no idea what is going to sync up well with this little rooster, so we're doing a bit everything.  Three dozen eggs collected so far, and still have a few days left.  Hoping for a nice big batch of chicks to raise, 30-35 chicks would be great, but honestly I kind of "overloaded" the roo with 9 hens so fertility might be a bit low.  (I just couldn't stop adding hens, so many to choose from!)

No roos will be kept from this cross, most likely - they will be too small.  But,  my original Aloha ladies are a couple of years old now, so it's time to think about breeding replacements for those hens, as their laying ability will surely drop next year.

If I did nothing more than replace a couple of my older gals with yellow-legged, nicely shaped daughters, it's still a step in the right direction improving body type and leg color.  (Size will continue to be an issue for a while, I fear!)  If this goes according to plan, we'll have newly hatched chicks in February.

Next, this roo will head up to Stephen's to run with some pure Speckled Sussex hens!  Hoping to hatch out some chicks from that pen later this Spring, and pick out only ones with yellow feet.  The Sussex will help improve size, as Stephen's pure Speckled Sussex ladies are nice and big.