Monday, December 9, 2013

Stephen's 2013 Alohas

Yesterday, I paid an visit to Stephen, who has been raising a huge group of about 60 chicks that I hatched for him, back in May and early June.

This hen has the perfect (excessive) amount of white for an Aloha.
There is no mistaking this hen for a Speckled Sussex.
We have done two rounds of culling previous to this, mostly to remove excess roosters and anything that was obviously too small, or not spotted enough.  The previous batch of culls were eagerly bought up locally, and this final culling has many chickens that two years ago would have been the best I had bred!  But we've made tremendous progress this year, thanks in large part to Stephen and his efforts to set up breeder pens and raise groups of chicks to adulthood.

Yellow legs!  Some with good size and body type.
The biggest leap forward this year, has been in the addition of yellow legs.  Now that I better understand the gene (it is recessive) we've better paired the pens and the result was a much higher percentage of yellow legged chicks!  The first season we successfully focused on improving comb type, and now leg color is working itself out.

Blurry pic showing more yellow legs.
Unfortunately, less progress was made this year in improving size.  While the current generation has the added Sussex and Swedish (plus just a dash of NHR and Buff Rock) that has improved heft and shape on a lot of hens, there are still a lot of very colorful but too-small hens.  

I adore the gold spotting, tons of white on this hen.
She's tiny but so beautiful.
I think we have finally found the ingredients that will get us over that hump next year, provided they aren't met by unforeseen tragedy.  Much of the size issue in past years, has been fighting natural selection, as the lighter gamey type of chickens seem to be tougher, more disease resistant, and less prone to heat stroke.  So naturally, in times of stress, (our 115 degree days) the larger and heavier chickens pass first.  (Perhaps their mass produces more body heat?)

Hen in foreground has great color, but poor type.
Rooster in background has size, but looks Sussex.
However, he did inherit the yellow legs!  
Speaking of natural selection, Stephen and I were busy catching every last rooster and hen in the large coop.  When we were totally done, he noticed something I'd completely missed!  Hidden atop some stacked cages, were two crafty hens.  They flew up there when we first started catching all the other chickens, and had stayed up there the entire time.

We laughed and decided that, being as if we had been coyotes or dogs, those would have been the ONLY two survivors in the entire coop, that they probably deserved to stay.  Neither was that remarkable in appearance, they pretty much looked like Speckled Sussex.  However, they get bonus points for being the smartest chickens in the coop.  

These hens are about 2-6 weeks from laying.  We will sort them out and set up new breeder pens for 2014.  The real exiting stuff, however, is the new additions, to try and finally fix the size issue, which are the subject of my next Blog post.

I took a ton of photos of the many gorgeous chickens from Stephen's stock.  Chicks should be hatching all of Spring 2014 from this group plus my own pens.

Sometimes, I get the feeling, I take entirely too many photos of the Alohas. But I just love how all the patterns and colors on their feathers and different.  The colors and different amounts of white fascinate me!

By far the most spotty rooster, we kept him for color despite the pink legs.

These hens show the variance in body type that has not yet been worked out.
The "round" shape of the hen on the left will be favored over the lighter build.

Neon yellow legs!!!
Adorable round, fluffy caramel-colored spotty hen.
So many pretty spots

But, even the cull pen this time around, looks beautiful.  I think the real sign of progress is not only how pretty our keepers are, but the improvement in color and quality of our culls.  

Below are some of the "culls" who will be sold as pets and laying hens:

Trio of lovely small hens.

These two hens look just like miniature Speckled Sussex.
These hens would have been in the breeding pen last year.


  1. We have a young cockerel that was hatched at my son's school. I believe it to be an Aloha, But I can not keep roosters in my backyard and need to re-home him. he is about 6 weeks old and has just start trying to crow. He is very pretty and I would hate to have him become someones dinner. I am just starting to look for a home for him and cam across this blog and wanted to see if you know of anyone interested in him, I have pictures if wanted.