Thursday, April 14, 2016

Dun Project Update - Part 3

It's now mid April, and the Dun Project chicks hatched 11/17/15 are now right at 5 months old.

To refresh:  Dad was a gorgeous Light Sussex cross (carrying Dun) with beautiful body shape, early to mature, but totally wrong color.  Hens were big and spotted.  Most chicks were wrong color (white with dun or black markings) but a small number were Mottled.

Here is a photo of Dad - who is a Light Sussex cross.  Hens were spotty Alohas:

Beautiful white boy and my best girls.
Out of 27 chicks, I kept a handful of Mottled babies and one white hen because I liked her stout body form. The rest of the chicks were sold.

This pen was done for one main goal:

Get a rooster as nice as Dad, in quality, but without the white color.

While the rest of the world is hatching in hopes of a big batch of hens, I was hoping for roosters.

Hopefully, a rooster with spots.  Though honestly even just a nice, big, solid color carrying the gene for spots would have been a step in the right direction!

Luckily, it actually worked out, and we have this guy now:

Not done growing - one month to full maturity.
Good points:  Big size, broad chest, not a trace of "gamey" look.  Early maturity.

Needs work:  More spots, bigger comb, longer tail, brighter yellow legs

He's not super spotted - fairly minimal - but more white than the Big Orange Roo.

Big Orange Roo - beautiful but terrible breeder.
You may notice they look kind of similar in form.  That's because this orange guy is a pure Sussex and my young guy shown is probably 3/4 Sussex as well.  (They are, basically, the same breed but in different colors.)

Here is another shot of the new guy from the front so you can see that he has more white spangles:

Slightly more white on the new guy.
He will be a terrific cross with the smaller, colorful, more Leghorn-type Aloha hens, who are small but great layers.  I am hoping that he will bring size and depth to the lighter bodied hens.  Hopefully some of those hens will lend their bright spotting and jaunty tails and larger comb size to the babies.

He is maturing early like his Dad - who was trying to mount hens at 4 months.  American breeds are often early to mature.  I had a hatchery New Hampshire Red rooster who was breeding at 5 months old.  By contrast, my pure Swedish Flower rooster was clueless at 6 months, and it was about 9 months before he really figured things out.  Swedish boys are gorgeous but continue to grow for up to one year so need patience.

Here are some more photos of this new rooster:

New boy at 5 months.  Not 100% mature.
Remember how I say the roosters always seem to lose their white right around this age?  Let me go through a progression backwards so you can see how he  matured:

Five months old.
Four months - not a good age for him
Two to Three months old.
One to Two months.
Isn't it amazing how much white he had as a chick?  To have so little today?

Here are his siblings, the other four that I kept:

Brother - Carries Dun but smaller in size.
Above:  His brother - and that's not Blue, it's Dun!  Looks much like a Blue Mottled Swedish, but this guy is zero Swedish Flower - and that's not the color Blue.  (See previous blog post on Dun.)

His sisters:
Gorgeous big girl.
Smaller hen, carries Dun.
Wrong color, but note yellow legs and width.
The sisters will be penned with one of these boys:

The above boys are very tall and gangly.  Big roosters both of them, but not as wide or deep bodied as the Sussex bloodlines.  They have terrific white spotting, yellow leg gene, and nice big combs that make it easier to pick out boy at a young age.  (Important if you are hatching your own chicks so you can determine gender at earlier age.)

Interesting note on the Dun chicks from this Nov. 17 hatch. With the dad carrying Dun, statistically half the babies will carry dun and half will not.  Strangely both the Dun rooster and hen both  turned out smaller, though that is purely random chance.  Because of smaller size this boy may be re-homed in favor of the larger brother:

May be re-homed.
The hen carrying Dun is also smaller and does not have a great tail set and may also be re-homed, as I have several more hens carrying Dun so I can use those instead.

Younger hen also carrying Dun + Mottling.  
Another young boy carrying Dun.  Nice legs!
I even have a rooster - who carries Dun through his Mom and not this white rooster - who is a Naked Neck and shows great promise.  So strangely this older Dun gene rooster, son of the white rooster, may be replaced with a Naked Neck counterpart who despite the Naked Neck is looking more true to Aloha type, as the NN chick shows brighter legs, and a larger comb, and much more white!  He's just a baby though so will have to wait for him to mature:

Yellow legs and incredible white on chest.
Note bigger comb from Turken parentage.
The Turken bloodline has some big roosters with very pronounced combs.  Leg color can vary on Turkens but many have vibrant yellow legs.  And despite the "love it or hate it" neck that some people think is creepy, the gene that causes it is actually super easy to remove.  This boy's chicks would be half normal neck, half naked neck.  The "normal" feathered chicks would be just normal chicks - and would never have this happen again.  In other words, you can remove this trait in only one generation, and once it is gone - it's GONE.

So weirdly, the best looking Aloha rooster with the Dun gene so far, is part Turken, and from a less related blood line.  Meaning I can breed this Dun NN to the above hens by the white rooster because this boy got the color through his Mom, not his Dad.

Dad to the Dun Naked Neck is this handsome half Sussex half Naked Neck Aloha rooter:

Dad to Dun Naked Neck baby rooster.
Mom is half Buff Sussex half Aloha.
So you can see these guys are distantly related - but not directly so - and this baby Turken rooster (despite his naked neck gene) could be the more helpful to keep if he matures to a good size and has good spotting.  Hopefully we will find out in a few months.

There are many more hens not shown here who carry Dun plus a few more roosters with Dun, so we will see how those grow out.   I simply haven't taken photos yet.

At this point from the Dun experiment, with the white rooster over nice large spotted hens, it looks like a whopping 2 chickens (out of the original 27 chicks) will make the final cut to the permanent breeding flock.  The impressive rooster and his big beautiful sister.  The others I may hatch a few chicks from and re home as backyard layers to make room, as sadly I don't have room to keep them all.