Wednesday, November 20, 2013

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.

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