Thursday, February 4, 2016

Dun Project Update - Part 2

It's been a month since I updated with new photos of the Dun project.

To refresh, I took a huge, fast-growing Light Sussex / Aloha cross rooster, who carries Dun, and I put him in a breeder pen with 6 of my biggest and best Aloha hens.  Rooster's color was totally wrong.  It was hoped that I could "pull" out the recessive spots.

The dad to this group.  Right body, wrong color.
October 2015:  Breeder pen.  Above rooster with large colorful hens.
It worked, and out of 21 chicks, 4 were spotted.

Here was one of the boys last month:

And here he is now!
SON of the big White/Dun Rooster
Here is his brother:

Slightly smaller, but still large.  Dun carrier.
Most of the not-spotted chicks were re-homed.  However, I kept three light brown roosters with Dun tail feathers to grow out, just in case:

Growing the boys out - just in case.
Tiny white spots can be seen here, plus Dun.
I also kept one of the chicks that was colored more like Dad - for no good reason really?  She was just adorable.  If I don't keep her, I know of a friend who would love to have this chick in her flock!

About half of the 21 chicks were this color.
I'm VERY impressed with these chicks.  It really is a lot of work to hatch and raise 21 chicks, just to pick out a few spotted ones.  However, all of the chicks have been FAST growing - like the Dad - with yellow legs.

I am so glad I took a risk and kept the father of this batch, who showed totally wrong color but had traits like fast growth and terrific size, that I wanted to pass onto my flock.

Right now, the biggest male chick, is almost as big as my smallest full grown Aloha hens!  And he was hatched November 17th, which means he's not even a full 3 months old!  He will continue to grow at least until 5 months of age.

Largest mottled rooster from hatch.
What has been even more amazing is their personalities.  They are curious, and friendly, climbing all over my shoes when I go in to feed.  If I crouch down to take photos, one hen loves to perch on my shoulder.  They are cuddly, friendly, adorable, fast growing, and colorful - all the traits I was hoping to get in this breed.

The shoulder-perching chick
Orange-motted hen on ground didn't care to move!
Fearless towards humans, so friendly!
Meanwhile, I "broke up" this pen, after I hatched this group, so I could try my next cross.  I put the Big Orange Rooster in with the hens, but the orange rooster had fertility issues, (next post will be about that) so it looks like the Dun boy will go back in with my favorite hens.  We are going to repeat this project.  It will take a LOT of work to raise these chicks only to pick out the spotted ones.

However, the chicks that have been re-homed that were simply the wrong color have been a hit with their new owners!  I guess a good chicken is never a bad color.  Now that I've seen the results, I can sell the "solid color" chicks to new homes, confident the owners will get great chicks, even if they aren't spotted.

Very excited to get my Dun boy in the pen again.  It will take about 3 weeks to get his DNA back into the hens, and three more weeks to incubate those eggs - so we are talking mid March before we see new chicks hatching from this cross again?  That will still give me about two months to hatch lots of his "kids" and raise them, trying to pick out only the spotted ones, before the summer heat kicks in.

By May, the roos from this Nov. 17th hatch will be old enough to breed, and Dad will be replaced by the sons.  I'll be able to eeek out one last group of chicks by late May into early June, who can be raised over the summer and we'll try to "lock in" the wonderful traits I'm getting in this new strain.

Roo in front - Turken hens behind are adults!
Tremendous size for under 3 months old. 
I feel like FINALLY the Aloha chicken project is coming to a close - and now it will be a matter of standardizing the "project" into a finalized breed.

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