Tuesday, November 19, 2013

A Very Tough Summer For Humans (And Chickens)

There has been little reported here, through the summer, because, well, it's been a rough year.  I'm happy to report that I am doing well, and so are the chickens.  However, I have lost two good friends to cancer in the last six months.  It's been a tough thing to deal with.

Also lost were a few good chickens . . . with temps of up to 117 degrees, it's hardly surprising.  The summer in Phoenix is long, hot, and brutal.  My lovely big hen "Nui" passed, and so did Raymond's Roo.  Up at Stephen's, we lost the fabulous new Sussex roo that I was so happy to welcome.  There were a few others here or there, but in total, I am pretty certain it was less than 10 total lost, and possibly as few as six?  Some were youngsters here, and I'm afraid I lost track.  But it was never anything alarming, one every few weeks.

Plenty have been hatched as replacements. I kept about 50 chicks to raise up of my own, and have been busy culling away in waves as they matured.  I currently have about 25-35 adult hens and several roosters.

Right now I'm still organizing the breeder pens.  It's late in the year to do this, I should have been more on the ball.  However, my newest baby girls just started laying in October.  I have two Sussex hens that are due to begin laying in December.  I set up Stephen with a bumper crop of chicks (I think possibly as many as 70-80 babies?) and those are also due to begin laying in December or January.  So it will be Spring that we'll see the best progress.

Speaking of progress, looking at the photos from last April, I am beginning to see some some great steps forward.

Here is a photo of what I would most certainly call a "finished" Aloha:

About time!  Getting to the Aloha goals at last.
Note the overall body shape.  Deep keel, upright fan-shaped tail, yellow legs, upright single comb.  I will always, always welcome a bigger, fatter, body, but this is completely acceptable.  I believe, for her pedigree, she is half Swedish Flower hen, or possibly, her mom was Nui, who was Aloha with Sussex and Buff Orpington.  Both hens were crossed with Raymond's Roo.  Raymond's Roo was mostly Aloha with a good amount of Buff Rock and a lesser amount of New Hampshire Red, with the remainder "old school" gamey-type Aloha.  This hen would be about 25% old-blood Aloha, and about 75% "big chicken" of various breeds.

She is only six months old, has more white than her pure Swedish mother, and all Mottled chickens will shed out to show more white with each passing year.  I'd like to see more white overall, but this would be acceptable for the low end of the Aloha standards.  (In other words, this is about the minimum amount of white I'd want to see in an Aloha.)

Her size:  BIG.  As big as, or bigger than, hatchery Speckled Sussex.  No trace of Banty size or gamey type.

A shame that we lost Raymond's Roo, as this is obviously a cross I'd like to repeat to infinity . . .

Other hens that are "near misses"

  Beautiful, I love the not-mahogany but still dark brown color with the golden shadings in the neck.  Great body.  Terrific upright tail set.  The tail is fantastic and exactly what I had in mind for this breed if we can keep it.

Needs a lot more white, plus yellow legs to be an Aloha.  Still a "keeper" and I can't wait to see her chicks.  Heavy Swedish Flower influence.

Another nice big hen.  She needs more white but her light brown color is very neat.
I am seeing Swedish Flower but New Hampshire Red could also be present.

  Here she is with very first hen shown in the first photos above.  
Note the tail is more tapered, does not have the nice square "fan shape" of the hen behind her.
She has pink legs instead of yellow.  Very close, but the hen on left is better overall.  

This hen has Barring like her dad (Raymond's Roo") which is OK in moderation.  (Don't cross a barred chicken to another barred chicken, though.)  The tail could use some work, it is longer at the top and not as upright or fan-shaped. But still great size, plus yellow legs, will see how her chicks turn out!

Another shot of the Barred hen with a 100% Speckled Sussex for size comparison.
As you can see, she is BIG.  Her large size and light color are her best features.
Here is the brownish spotted hen shown above, alongside a hatchery purebred New Hampshire.
Size is good, but not as big.  Someday, I'd like to get Alohas as large as the New Hampshire which is why the NHR is in the breeding pen!  Her chicks will add size to future Alohas.

I also have three pure Speckled Sussex hens in this breeder pen.

This hen, "Sprinkles" is from Stromberg's Hatchery.

And this SPOTTY girl is from Ideal Hatchery in TX.
She is due to start laying in December.  Can you say SPOTS???
This is the amount of white that I'd like to see in all Alohas at five months old!

And finally, the rooster!  I had my eye on this flashy boy from six weeks onward!

He is a little bit smaller than a Sussex rooster, but not ridiculously small.
His size will "down" the size on the BIG hen's chicks - but not by much.
Tons of white, and lots of "ooh la la".  Which is to say, great shape and long tail!

I will be adding a few more hens to the pen, but that is pretty much going to be Breeder Pen #1 this season.  

Updates on Pen #2 and #3 to follow!

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