Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Fall Breeder Pen #2

Since I'm on a roll, I'm going to go ahead and cover the other breeder pen that I'm setting up right now.  I still need to move a few hens around, but at least I can describe what the goals are.

First, the rooster.  I believe he is 3/4 Swedish Flower.  He looks very much like a pure Swedish, as you can see.  So why do I not think he's pure?

A few reasons, one, he's a bit smaller than his pure Swedish father, though just barely.  He still towers over the old-style tiny Aloha hens.

Mostly, I don't think he's pure Swedish, because of how he looked as a chick.  Today he shows little mottling, which is a huge letdown.  But there is something else going on there, because as a chick, he showed MORE WHITE than about anything I'd ever seen!  Can you believe THIS is how he looked as a baby?

No, not kidding.  Same chick.
Still the same chick.  About 4-6 weeks later.
My rooster crop this year was kind of a bust, I had only one really jump out at me, who had great color and reasonable size, and he's in pen #1 right now.  So this guy, being the tallest and clearly carrying something more than the regular Swedish, as I've never had a Swedish show that much white as a baby, is getting a chance.  Sometimes, hidden recessive traits only show in later generations.  Let's see what happens!

Well, he is tall at least.  Half Sussex hen beside him.  She's pretty big.
  We'll at least use him until I see how the 8 or so roosters that Stephen is raising turn out.  LOL.  I may change my mind after that!  Since those won't be ready until January, however, this guy is what we've got to work with in the meantime.

He looked very Aloha as a chick, but now that he's grown, I would say he would easily pass for a pure Swedish Flower rooster.  I had some half-Aloha, half Swedish hens in with a pure Swedish rooster last year, so it is very possible that this fellow is the result.  I am hoping that the little bit of 25% Aloha blood will pop out some new colors in his babies, when crossed back to the teeny little colorful hens in the pen with him.  Worth a shot.

Here are some of the ridiculously small but vividly colored Aloha hens in with him:

Love this hen's color.  Wish she had the size to go with it.
Another view of her:

So colorful.  So ridiculously small.
That's one of the smaller hens that I bred, to replace the "old style" Aloha hens that are getting a bit old now.  Here's some of my older but gorgeous hens that are still being used:

I have kept these colorful little hens, despite their off colored legs and small size, because they are tough heat tolerant, disease resistant survivors with gorgeous colors.  But they are 2+ years now, so I have to think about breeding replacements.  Even small sized replacements.  Just to keep the pretty color.  I have noticed these older hens don't lay as prolifically as they used to!

Here's another NEW hen that is the same (tiny) size as the original Alohas,  At least we are getting hens with yellow legs now!

Some of the hens are mid-size.  They are in-between the tiny first generation, but not as big as the half Swedish and half Sussex crosses.  These hens were created by crossing a NHR to a Vanilla daughter, and taking the son from that cross, and putting him with little Aloha hens.  So they are about 3/4 Aloha and 1/4 NHR.  The improved size does carry through, to some degree.  I wonder what they will produce with this (mostly Swedish) rooster?

I have three of these "in between" hens that are mostly Aloha.  I also have a few ???? hens that I'm not sure of the pedigree.  Not as white as the little Alohas, not as big as the half Swedish.  In other words, I have no idea which cross made these hens:

Sussex?  Swedish?  New Hamshire?  Buff Rock? It could be any or all of these breeds, plus a healthy dose of Aloha.  Your guess is as good as mine!  They aren't quite as tiny as the smallest hens, but not nearly as big as the half Swedish or half Sussex.

One half Sussex is particularly stunning:

Current picture

Of all the hens, her chicks could be the ones to watch from this cross.  She is Sussex/Aloha with no Swedish.  I know that because I've had her since before I got the Swedish Flower Hens.  Here she is from a while back - last year I think.

Older photo of same hen.

The fact that she is still here, and as you can see in the first photo taken today, still very healthy despite the grueling summer temps, is really encouraging.

Right now, there are just too many hens in there in general, until I get the pen sorted and some of the other hens shuffled to other areas, and maybe cull a few more.  However, this is kind of the general program for this breeder pen, cross the big rooster with the small and really colorful hens.

Some of my oldest little Aloha hens! 

Aloha "Type"

I keep trying to introduce bigger chickens to my breeding project, but no matter what I do, they tend to (eventually) revert back to the original Aloha type!  I've referred back to the "foundation Aloha" or "old-blood Aloha" in Blog posts, and suddenly, I realize that nobody knows what I'm talking about.  To talk about any kind of "foundation" to a breed is hysterical, considering this project is only a few years old!  How much "foundation" can a breed have in only five years?

Keep in mind I use that term very tongue-in-cheek, almost sarcastically.  But, there is a kind of special look to this very, very young project I've been working on.

What is the "Aloha" type, anyway?

Okay, here's my first Aloha rooster, Vanilla, whose blood runs through every last chicken that carries even a trace of "Aloha".  He is, basically, *the* original Aloha chicken.  Vanilla's lineage:  Half known stuff, half mystery hen.

His mom was this mystery hen found in a neighbor's yard.  A tiny hen with crazy colors.  She is the unique part of this entire project, and was something totally different, colored in a way I'd never seen on any other chicken.  His dad, half Exchequer Leghorn and half Sussex, gave him better size and type.  But as you can see, he looked NOTHING like either an Exchequer or a Sussex!

This was Vanilla:

Vanilla, the foundation Aloha.
Vanilla had many sons, and grandsons.  One of them was "Jorge's Roo" who was small but really colorful.

Jorge's Roo
Two of Vanilla's sons.
Vanilla also had a full brother, Patch, who was used for breeding, for several years at a friend's house across town.  Later, I brought one of Patch's daughters back into the flock.  There should be other of his descendants at my friend's house.

Vanilla's full brother, Patchwork.
The upright body, long flowing tail, proud chest, bright colors, all of these traits continue to carry on years later.  Here are photos of many other Aloha roosters, here and in other homes:

Many different roosters are shown above, and those are just the ones I remembered to get photos of.  Do you see a pattern?  A common body style?  Change the colors, but the overall "look" appears again and again each generation. It's this look or style that I'm trying to enlarge, and get to full size.

One of the questions as to what makes a breed a breed, is can it replicate itself even through multiple generations?  Here are the great-great-great (whatever number of generations later) distant relatives of Vanilla.  These boys are in my backyard right now.  The first, a ridiculously tiny Aloha rooster, covered in white feathering:

And his slightly larger, and slightly less colorful hatch-mate.

I believe that Alohas have actual potential as a new breed.  There is still a lot of work to be done, but they do form a general body type that goes beyond just color.  Unfortunately, small size also seems to be an Aloha trait.  I wish I could get this type, and gorgeous colors, on a larger package!

This pen of culled roosters from Stephen's shows similar body type.
Even without spots.
The latest Aloha "old school" or what I've been calling "foundation Aloha" are these two super-small but adorable little roosters that are currently in my breeder pen.  I was going to cull them, but for now, I'm refraining.  They are mostly kept off the ladies, by the larger more dominant Swedish-bred rooster.  Maybe they could be of use with the right ladies?  I may pen them with select hens next Spring.  In particular, they would go well with the half-Swedish and pure NHR hens, to start a fresher Aloha bloodline. 

Yes, they are ridiculously small, but very cute.

The Mysterious Orange Color - Part Two

Back in November 2011, exactly two years ago to the day, I did a Blog post about this odd "orange" color that had popped up in a couple of my roosters:

Today, I am no closer to figuring out genetically, exactly what this color is, or how to keep it going.

It's gorgeous, but exactly what is it?  A dark buff?  A light reddish brown?  A unique gene all its own?  The only references I've seen to this color are the Pumpkin Hulsey line of Game Fowl.  There is argument even among those who study chicken genetics as to what this color actually is.  The most noticeable trait is a bright orange color on the tail feathers, as even bright red or dark gold chickens typically have black tail feathers. In some, (but not all) Pumpkin Hulsey Games, the chicken is a solid orange color, even the tail and neck feathering.  Here is a solid orange Pumpkin Game rooster, minus any Mottling.  (Not my photo, found on BYC):

Whatever you call this color, it is still here in the flock.  Previous roosters with this color were Flame, who had puffy cheeks and slate legs, hinting at a bit of Ameraucana bloodline in his past, from an introduction in Year One to a blue-wheaten Ameracana hen I'd brought into the program as an experiment to try and introduce the blue egg gene.

Flame, the first "Pumpkin" mottled Aloha.
Funky comb, gray legs.  Eh, it's a start.
The next one to show up was Butterscotch, a small rooster whose leaner body type and bold spotting hinted at the early introduction to Exchequer Leghorns.

Butterscotch, the second Pumpkin colored Aloha.
Better comb, not much more spotting.  Still has gray legs.
While I did have losses of large roosters through the summer of 2013, including the loss of a really lovely pure Sussex, and Raymond's Roo (a gorgeous larger rooster with Buff Rock, Sussex, and NHR bloodlines) guess who survived the 117 degree temps like they were nothing?

Pumpkin Roo.

117 degrees?  Whatever.
The most recent in the lineage of orange roosters, he boasts the best spotting I've seen of the previous orange-mottled roos, with yellow legs to boot.  Body type is jaunty and stout with a long flowing tail.  Oh, and personality.  He has refused the coop all summer, and perches in a tree in the yard.

He greets me at the back door each morning making the most hilarious warbling and screeching dinosaur noises.  I've had to shoo him away from the patio numerous times, as he thinks it's hysterical to crow through the screen door into the house.

Pumpkin Roo, the third and best colored of the orange roosters.
There is a reason I've had troubles introducing size to my flock.  These "old blood" Alohas, while small, are true survivors.  They shrug off heat, they defy any illness, and can fly over your head and up to the highest perch to escape predators.  I was not surprised to find the feral (wild) chickens of Kauai'i were also this smaller size.

When I went on vacation a while back, a large and lovely hen defied me and escaped.  To be with Pumpkin Roo.  They had run free all summer, while she was just a chick growing up, and she did not want to end their relationship.  OK, I'd planned to put her in with the other rooster, but who am I to defy true romance?

I have one very small breeder pen off to the side, near where Pumpkin-Roo sleeps.  I plan on setting out tasty treats for him and his lady friend, to coerce them into the pen, and when I trap them, I'll also introduce a few other hens to this breeder pen.  He will get his very own New Hampshire Red hen, plus a couple of other medium or large hens that could use a bit of color.

I'm considering adding this lovely half-Swedish hen to Pumpkin's harem.
Another cute hen that may cross well with Pumpkin Roo.
With the size of the pen, I'll be limited to maybe four hens.  Any more might overcrowd the 5 x 8 kennel, though they will get free-range time.  Even when I have my chickens in segregated breeder pens, I rotate opening each pen on alternate days, so they all get a chance to roam, peck at grass, and flop around in the dust baths.

Despite being small, Pumpkin deserves a chance to carry on his genes.  He may be little in size, but he's big in heart.  A tough little survivor, and 100% Aloha.