Sunday, May 10, 2015

Still Searching for Mr. Right

Last post, I went over the weirdness that happens as Aloha roosters age.  They tend to suddenly "drop" most of their white spots, right at four months old.  My biggest issue is finding a BIG rooster with lots of spotting.  The little "gamey" type Alohas are beautifully colored, but the bigger they get - whether rooster or hen - the more challenging it gets to put spots on them!

I wish his eyes were blue, like his Mom's!
I have yet to find one perfect Aloha rooster - a "Mr. Right" who has everything that I'm looking for.  Big size, lots of spots, and yellow legs.  So far, the nearest to that goal that I have reached is this guy, who is the son of my blue-eyed hen, and is probably about half Swedish Flower:

Best example of Aloha breed rooster, to date.  
He is unique in that he was bred to be a rooster.  I penned my blue eyed girl for a couple of weeks, saved her eggs, and hatched the offspring, specifically looking for a son that had the qualities that I liked so much in her!  The rooster that I used with her was only OK, but was the best I had at the time, so I knew that if any roosters turned out nice, it would be directly because of their Mom!

Better body size is all this boy needs.
This boy only reached breeding age about a month ago, and he has not yet had a flock of his own! I'm very excited to have him penned now with some of my favorite girls!  Some eggs from this pen are already "baking" in the incubator right now.

My biggest, chunkiest Buff Sussex hen, penned with this Aloha.
The breeding pen, May 2015.  Eggs are already in the incubator.
So he's a great rooster, and I'm incredibly pleased with him, though I wish he had even more bulk and "meaty" size to him.  Like his Mom, he has lots of height.  He is as tall as any standard sized chicken, but he could use a little more roundness in the body area.  That is why I have him penned with my solid colored Buff Sussex hens.  The babies from that cross will NOT show spotting, but they will be light colored carriers Mottling and yellow legs.  I'm hoping as the breeding line mixes down the road, I'll get chicks with yellow legs, size, and spots . . .

He is also penned with some super colorful and pretty decent sized Aloha hens, to make more pretty spotted hens like ones seen in this pen.  (Hopefully with yellow legs too?)  Spots to spots only makes MORE spots, so every one of their babies should have lovely markings.  Though these hens - while not small - are about the same size as the rooster.  So there will only be "more of the same".  I have to go through the boring step of losing the color (by crossing to BIG buff hens) to make actual progress in the future.

Hen in front: One of my favorite Alohas.  Pretty with decent size!
I continue to look for any really promising roosters, as lately it seems that my boys are the "weak link" in the breeding program.  For years, I lacked BIG yellow hens.  I've FINALLY got those big yellow hens now, but I need big spotty roosters to breed them too.  A super-spotty, good sized, purebred Speckled Sussex would be a huge help right now, but since I don't have that, I have to try and look at what I have growing in my pens of babies, and hope what I need pops up?

As mottled roosters age, they tend to get darker and darker, which is why I try and keep baby chicks that appear to have way too much white.  Here is a progress update on a few.  Remember this guy?

He was a chick that I got back from a person who bought some eggs from me via Craigslist.  Here he is not even one month later:

He's already lost a ton of white and we aren't even at the four month mark, where they tend to lose the most color of all.

There was a second rooster that I went back for, because I thought his structure was promising.  This guy will probably be kept around for a while even if he loses most of his color, because he has very nice body type and good size, so far.

Odds are, however, this boy will be pretty much a buff color with barely a trace of white anywhere, when he is full grown.  However, he carries the gene for spots, and does show it now, which means he could improve the body type on the more colorful hens.  If bred to my super spotty girls we might see some chicks with better body type that keep their spotting to adulthood.

But to date, I just can't seem to find a rooster with both size and type PLUS color.  Here's a good example.  I was SO EXCITED when I started to raise this chick!  He was big, and round, with bright yellow legs.  And look at all that white!

Photo taken:  MARCH

Photo taken:  APRIL 7th

Photo taken:  MAY 10th

Aaaand it's gone.  All the white spotting is gone.  Bummer.

So there's his brother who of course is smaller:

It's also possible his brother is simply a few weeks younger.  If that's the case he might lose all his white in a few weeks as well.  Here's baby brother, photo taken early April:

And about a month later, in May:

And here is a third rooster, who is not as white as the one above, and not as tall as the one that lost all his color.  Not sure what to think of this guy yet?  Will have to grow him out a bit and see:

There are many other baby roosters that are growing out.  I will be keeping many of them to see how they develop!  Here are pics of a few of them:

Promising Mille Naked Neck Aloha.
Yellow legs, and mostly white, with some buff and black spots.

A row of Aloha chicks growing out.

Young Aloha roster with interesting dark head and yellow legs.

Striking orange and black dark head, white chest.
I don't know if any of these youngsters growing out now will be Mr. Right, but I have only kept about 50 chicks so far.  Typically, only about 1 in every 5-10 chicks makes the cut to the final breeding flock.

My hope is to hatch and keep at least 100 more babies, and raise them through the summer.  These ones that are hatched in February - April will be of breeding age August - October, which will give me a small flock pf probably 10-15 adults to start hatching Aloha chicks from, as soon as temps cool.

The bulk of my hatchlings are due end of May, to early June, and anything raised through the summer would be ready to breed by December, if all goes well.  (The tough part of course is keeping them alive through the Phoenix heat!)

I currently have about 125 eggs in the incubator, and the hope is to keep the entire group of chicks, if I can handle raising that many at once!  LOL.