Sunday, September 21, 2014

Sussex Size Boosters - Growing Up

It's been a busy and miserable Phoenix summer!

Not only were there the typical hot temps to contend with, my Mom was diagnosed with cancer back in March, causing a lot of concern over the last few months.  Her treatment ran from May through July. Thank God, her first scan post-radiation and chemo gave the all clear, so I finally feel OK enough to update this Blog.  In case you were wondering why so quiet lately.

I did hatch and raise about 80-100 chicks through the summer.  There were supposed to be more.  A lot more, actually!  I was expecting a final batch of Aloha chicks that didn't hatch as hoped, so instead of raising 100+ Alohas, it was more like 40 Alohas plus the other breeds.  Considering the rough time I was having with family issues, maybe this was actually a blessing in disguise.

The chicks that I've been raising were of several types.  First hatched - the Sussex crosses!  These will be used to improve size.  Size is good on all, and many either carry Mottling or show a little, but they are more for the improvement of body type.  The idea will be to cross them with my most colorful little Alohas.

The big Buff guy with one small Aloha, plus Speckled, Cinnamon Sussex, etc. hens.
Another shot of this Mixed Sussex breeder pen.
Next hatched - Turken crosses.  What??  Actually, it has nothing to do with the Naked Neck.  I found a lovely, big, yellow legged hen next door (who happened to have a Naked Neck as well) and tossed her in with a very colorful but too weedy Aloha.  It was her size and beautiful golden blonde buff color that interested me.

Loved this roo's color but he was too thin and light in build.
These Turken hens had great size and light color.
The result of this cross was MANY lovely darker buff Turken hens.  Only one inherited Mom's super pale buff color.  One shows mottling!  The rest are all a deeper medium buff with yellow legs and all show signs of being Mottled carriers.  Her baby girls will be laying in a couple of months, and when crossed with a colorful Aloha, many of the chicks will be spotted, and half will have "normal" necks.  The spotted, normal-neck chicks will be kept for the Aloha program.

This August pic of one of the Turken crosses displays Mille color.

August pic of the Turken / Aloha cross shows much lighter Buff color.
The nice side benefit of the NN addition, is it will be easy for me to keep track of those chick's parentage when I set up breeding pens!  I can easily tell who these sisters are.

Last hatched were "regular" Alohas.  Hatched in June, these newest babies won't be laying until November or December.  A few of the most colorful hens will be kept to cross with big roosters.  I will sell the "improved" Aloha chicks to new homes all Spring.

9/20/2014 - Aloha pics.  These girls won't be laying until November earliest.
Look at my yellow feets!!!
(Nope, this is not the same hen as pictured above.)
I have yellow toes, too!
Not the same Alohas as pictured above.  Pics show five different Aloha hens.
We've got a strong breed type in this group!
The Sussex crosses are most interesting.  These were offspring mostly from a Buff Sussex rooster that I managed to get my hands on in August 2013.  He came with two lovely hens.  Then, we added a Cinnamon Sussex hen and a few Meyer Speckled Sussex to fill out the breeder pen.  These are some of the resulting chicks!  A lovely blend of many types of Sussex.  All are large.

The three I picked up from California.
And, here are some of the resulting offspring from the California Sussex - at long last!

Buff Sussex hens should add size without darkening color on Alohas.
Another Buff Sussex hen already shows Mottling.
A Cinnamon Sussex hen w/ Buff Sussex rooster!
(Dun color on tail and neck, Buff on body.)
Some Buff Sussex hens already show hints of Mottling.
Dad was Buff Sussex over Speckled Sussex hens.
Look pretty much like SS but a touch lighter.
"Cinnamon Sussex" hen.  Tail and neck are "Dun" color.
These young pullets are just starting to lay.

Also from a different small breeder pen, were two nice Sussex hens with a part-Sussex Aloha roo who had yellow legs.  A couple of large hens, even some with yellow legs, were the result!  I would estimate these hens at 60% to 70% Sussex, with the remainder mostly Aloha.  Small pullet eggs are being found in the nest.  These hens, the first to be hatched, are most likely laying now.
Stunning hen.  Not sure parentage?  
Aloha x Sussex cross.  She has some size as well!
Left to right:  Buff /Speckled, Buff Sussex, and Sussex/Aloha cross
Aloha x Speckled Sussex cross hen.  (Yellow feet.)
I have been hatching small batches of Aloha chicks from my few remaining layers in the original pen.  Fourteen chicks have been hatched.  About 40 eggs are in the incubator now.  All of these chicks will be kept and raised to keep.  The oldest chicks already look fabulous.

Now I have collected about 40+ MORE eggs from both pens.  Until I get new breeder pens built, and can set up more controlled breeder pens, I'll keep the chicks hatched in the month of September and then start to sell chicks locally again this Fall.  Right now the chickens are free-range, running about having a great time, and any chicks hatched will be lovely but there will be no way of telling what rooster was with what hens!  These "mystery chicks" will be quite nice for local chicken keepers.  This year's chicks should show much size improvement over previous years, thanks to some monster-sized Sussex running about!

When the smaller sized but extremely colorful Alohas mature, the goal will be to cross the big, round Sussex types with the most colorful Alohas and try to finally wrap up this breeding program!

2015 could be a big year for Alohas.

Aloha rooster hiding in the bushes.