Everything is going well here in Aloha World! However, the breeder pens are still not done, though they are partially built. We have demolished the old rickety original coop to make room for new pens that still need to be painted.
Without breeder pens, however, the Alohas and Sussex have been living (comfortably) in one huge mishmash of a flock, which has made it impossible for me to break up chickens into sub-groups to try for specific traits.
However, thanks to their unique single dominant gene, I have been able to track one breeder line - the Turken Alohas! I have kept several Turken Alohas to raise - not because they are any "better" than any other group - but simply because their distinctive naked necks allow me to keep track of which bloodline they came from.
|Success! Turkens with spots - added on one short year. |
Why aren't other breeding projects this easy?!??
Last year, I noticed my neighbor had a few nice HUGE hens, that were that elusive pale butter-yellow Buff Columbian color I've been looking for. Size - huge. Legs - yellow. Everything that I'd been looking for in outcross stock for the Alohas to improve size without ruining the colors. I'd overlooked these hens previously, because of one distracting feature: Their creepy vulture-like naked necks!
However, I read up on the Naked Neck gene, and it's a simple Dominant gene. That means it can be easy to control, and easy to breed out, if I wanted to. Nothing to be afraid of, in theory? So, I set up a breeder pen to see if it would work. I put a small, weedy, too-thin but beautifully colored Aloha rooster with these two big robust Turken hens.
|Step #1 : Take big buff hens, cross with skinny (but colorful) Aloha boy.|
|Step #2 : Hatch out chicks, and keep the lightest Buff girls. |
Spots go into hiding on first generation Solid x Mottled cross.
There was also a rooster who, also surprisingly, showed spotting! Too nice to cull, I gave him to my friend Deb in Tucson, where he will be kept with Aloha hens. The first generation Mottled to Solid cross chickens are not supposed to show spots - the Mottled gene is recessive. Which says one of the Buff Turken hens I borrowed, may have been a carrier.
|Too nice to cull - Mille Turken rooster "Robin" lives in Tucson now.|
|F1 (first generation) Turken x Aloha cross.|
Sister to above rooster "Robin". The only F1 hen with spotting.
|Step #3: Cross Buff hens that carry spotting back to spotted rooster.|
Look for spots to return on some of the babies. Keep those.
|F2 (Second Generation) 3/4 Aloha (or Sussex) and 1/4 Turken chicks.|
Spotty ones were kept, solid colors were re-homed.
|Photo taken a few weeks ago of the Sussex bred Aloha x Turken.|
Hard to photograph because he's so friendly, always right in the camera lens.
|That friendly Turken's daddy, a huge Speckled Sussex / Buff Sussex|
Sadly, Dad hurt his leg and had to be put down.
That makes this Turken roo especially valuable, as he is already huge like Dad. And I know he carries the gene for yellow legs, and he has lighter color and big size from his pale Buff Turken grandmother. He is much more valuable for the Aloha program than his dad was. I hope I can keep him alive and well until June, when he will be old enough to breed.
|Bloodline: 1/2 Sussex (Buff and Speckled)|
1/4 Aloha, and 1/4 Turken
His siblings are also gorgeous. I have two lovely hens and another rooster who has better color than the darker boy, but is not nearly as large. They are a fabulous lot of chicks.
Now, don't get the wrong idea here - these chicks are NOT the only ones! Yay! It turns out there are a BUNCH more just like these babies. I've been hatching out tons of Aloha chicks, and in every batch of 60-80 babies that I hatch, I'll scoop the the ones with distinctive naked necks out, and set them aside. I sent maybe a dozen to Deb in Tucson, and gave my neighbor (who loaned me the "original" Naked Neck hen) about six Aloha x Turken chicks, as well.
The results from the babies that I kept were just too encouraging to not raise more! Also, it's generally a good idea with any stock that is looking this nice, to spread them around, in case something happens to chickens at one location. (Illness, dog attacks, etc, can wipe out a flock in record time.)
|Above: Various pics showing three of the four spotted Naked Neck x Aloha chicks that I kept.|
He is colored much like the original small, thin, weedy rooster that I crossed with the Turken hen before, but he has much better overall body size than the first rooster. So I've made improvements there, and while he's certainly not enormous like that giant Sussex who was so massive he hurt himself with his own weight, this Aloha rooster is a vast improvement over many previous boys. He is a perfectly respectable size, and is still maturing and filling out, so he will probably get even bigger yet.
I believe he was hatched in September, and he has started to show interest in girls, though it will be another month before he is fully mature. I think he may continue to grow and fill out for another three months, as he appears to have heavy Swedish bloodlines, and Swedish are slower to mature than many American heritage breeds. Roosters in that breed do not seem to really fill out until 8 or even 9 months of age.
|New Aloha rooster, of good size. Swedish Flower bloodlines.|
Considering how fragile chickens are, however, it's hard to make any future plans. As they say - don't count your chickens, and all that!
The Turken project has been fun, and to date, has worked beautifully and exactly as hoped. Very encouraged by the process. I wish other breeding experiments had worked so wonderfully. The resulting babies are kind of creepy with their feather-less necks, but are super friendly happy, and healthy. Now teenagers, they come running for treats and allow themselves to be held. They are great chickens! Friendly, happy, healthy and sweet. Glad I took this little "detour" with the Naked Necks, as it is working out great so far.
|I had trouble taking photos of this little roo, because he is so friendly!|