Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Fall Review

Thank goodness, summer is over at last!  It was a long, hot, tough summer in Phoenix.  Many chickens were lost throughout the Valley of the Sun.  I read many discouraging posts on Facebook from my chicken owning friends. June was especially brutal, because the heat rose so fast, the chickens did not have a chance to acclimate.  When temps shot from 95 to 115 in only one week, the poor chickens had a difficult time coping.

The smaller Alohas did fine in the heat.
Larger hens, like Buff Sussex, had a tough time.
As predicted, my largest chickens were hit hardest.  The small Alohas shrug off the heat, but the larger ones that I have brought in to improve size have a bigger body mass that seems to make them overheat more easily.  I lost two Buff Sussex.  I also lost a couple of Buff Sussex crosses.  Saddest of all, was my very special blue-eyed hen, the only hen I've ever seen with blue eyes.  She came from Swedish Flower lines.

My beautiful blue eyed hen.  RIP lovely girl!
My only comfort, is that I still have her son (I know this for sure because I penned only her in a cage with a rooster and hatched him from those eggs) and I also have a couple of hens that I believe are her daughters.  In addition to her blue eyes, the hen had a lot of white spotting, lanky build, and she had an unusually long neck, traits which her daughter also shows.

I believe this is her daughter.  (No blue eyes.)
I have her two daughters in with a totally unrelated rooster right now, and the son is heading the main flock this year.  Hopefully when the two lines cross back, we may see another like her someday?

After the loss of the blue-eyed hen our first brutally hot week, misters were installed, and I'm happy to say there were very few losses after that.  (I think only two?)  I believe the overall tally for the summer was a loss of five hens and one or two chicks, out of a flock of about 50 adults and over 100 chicks.  That's not a bad rate, but the few adult hens lost were really nice, and will be missed.

Lots of the chicks were raised to replace older hens, and I've kept about 15 new hens.  Some are shown below.

This pullet is 4 months and not yet laying.
Several more pullets, not yet laying.
This beauty is new to the flock, laying now.
Breeding is just starting up again now.  Late this year, because the heat wave continued into fall.  In August, we had 117 degrees, and October had another record of 106.  Temperatures would drop a little bit, only to spike back up again.  The high temperatures have resulted in few eggs.  What eggs are laid, have mostly been infertile, as when temps reach above 100 it can cause infertility in the boys.

I did a test hatch in July, and out of 84 eggs, only 30 were fertile.  Just 15 of those actually hatched.  15 chicks from 84 eggs was too much waste, so this summer my family was gifted with dozens of Aloha eggs for eating.  Considering the price of eggs at the store right now, this made me very popular at family gatherings!

Now it's time to regroup, and get going once again!  Blessedly, most of the Aloha flock survived, and I look forward to setting up new people with Aloha chicks again, probably starting sometime in November.

Two survivors of 117 degree temperatures.


  1. Thanks for the update and your photos of the Alohas are gorgeous.
    Sorry for you losses, but glad there weren't too many.
    Hope the breeding season goes well for you!

  2. These chickies are gorgeous! Our temps are just getting down into the 30's in Flagstaff. I'm sorry to hear about your losses :( It has been challenging to deal with these new dramatic weather patterns.