Friday, May 24, 2019

New Chicks Growing Up!

Because I had two years of "incubator mishaps" at the end of the season, in both 2017 and again in 2018, this year I've tried a different approach and have been hatching and raising several groups of chicks throughout the year.  I would say that I've probably hatched 600 Aloha chicks this season, easily, and have tried to raise close to 200 of those myself.  The rest were sold, or given away to my neighbors.

I started with a small hatch in December, of about 30 chicks.  Only 3 hens and zero roosters made it to the final breeding coop.  Hens were colorful, but overall too small in size.

Next hatch, in January, was larger with great results.  After that, I followed with raising a huge group of 75 chicks in February, and 82 chicks in March.  April also had some good hatches, that were shuffled to a couple of new breeders in-state.

I've culled down now to the best 16 out of the 75 from February, and the 82 chicks in March are now down to 40, and will cull at least half of those later, as they mature.  And note - when I say "cull" I just mean those are the ones that don't make the cut to the breeding coop, and are sold to local chicken keepers to be used as back yard pets.

Here are some pics of the January chicks, the "final cut" that are nearing point-of-lay and were recently integrated successfully into the barn with the adult flock:

Aloha Naked Neck pair - two sisters from same hatch - very similar.  One's slightly darker.

Three "Confetti" hens with yellow legs!  Very cute girls.  Also probably sisters.

Next, a pair of Aloha sisters carrying a rare gene called "DUN" that turns the black feathers smoky gray but has no effect on red or gold colors:

Here's a pic of one of the Dun sisters, next to a "normal" hen with Black feathering so you can see the difference in color.  This is an EXTREMELY rare color gene in large fowl chickens:

And last but not least, this Buff Mottled hen, who is very lovely for her unique gold and white spotted plumage:

The scary thing, however, is that all of these youngsters are untested against the Phoenix summer temps of 110-118 and those months are coming soon.  IF they survive, they will be included in the Fall breeding pens.  Fingers crossed!  Because this is one lovely group of youngsters . . .

I am also keeping two of their brothers to see how they grow out.  So far, so good, but they still have a full month (at least) of filling out before they are mature.

This guy is the #1 pick, slightly larger.
Still have MONTHS to go before the "safe" temps in October so there's no telling who will be with us for the Fall 2019 pens.  All I can do is cross my fingers and hope they'll make it through.  In the meantime, I'm going to be sending as many chicks and hatching eggs to (cooler) new homes in Northern AZ as well as to friends out of state whenever possible.  Wish me luck! 

ALOHA CHICKEN BREED STANDARD:  Link to a Google doc, with lots of pics and info for potential breeders.  Cut and paste into a new tab and enjoy!

Aloha Chicken Breed Standard

I've needed to create a "breed standard" for ages now, but recently, a pair of Alohas were hatched that actually meet the breed standard, which certainly helps! 

Here's the duo, a rooster and hen owned by a friend located near San Antonio, TX.  The hen is 5+ pounds, the rooster 8+ pounds, and he stands about 26" tall.  While I have had Alohas that looked like this in the past, I have never had a pair that looked like this AND had the larger size that I've been breeding for.

Rooster next to 5 gallon bucket, for scale.
Currently, she's trying to hatch as many chicks as she can from this amazing pair, to increase the flock size and attempt to "clone" this duo.  The owner is offering chicks and hatching eggs for sale, by the way, so if there is anyone looking to become a breeder here is another source.  (She is not shipping, at this time, this is in-person pick up only.)

I have created a "breed standard" document to help clarify the Aloha program final goals, and if you like, you can read it here.  Just copy and paste the link below!  It will take you to a detailed Google document with lots of pictures and info for potential breeders.

Also, a reminder that there is a breeder outside of Little Rock, AR who has hatching eggs and sometimes chicks available.  She also does not ship.  Local pick up only.

Arkansas Alohas!  (With a couple of Ameracaunas in the pic.)
Two other local breeders are upcoming, one in MN and another in Wichita, KS.  The earliest that I think we'll see any hatching eggs available would be Fall of 2019.  From what I have heard, these breeders also would be primarily selling locally. 

Baby Alohas in Kansas, May 2019
There are also a couple of existing breeders in Oregon, and now I'm setting up new breeders in Northern AZ and more recently Durango, CO.  However, from what I understand, none of these new breeders have any plans of shipping live chicks or hatching eggs. 

There is still a lot of interest in shipped chicks or eggs, but the Phoenix heat makes this difficult for me to ship out of state, so there is still a huge demand for someone in a cooler climate who is interested in raising Alohas specifically for shipped eggs or shipped chicks.  Hoping to find someone who can be a source for buyers. 

Right now I'm only supplying shipped Live chicks to approved new breeders, and I am only able to ship a few boxes out each year (a few in the Spring and maybe a couple in the Fall) because the heat in the summer months.  In person sales of hatching eggs or live chicks available to anyone, but it's local pick up only in Phoenix. 

Persons interested in raising a breeding flock of  Alohas can contact me on BYC or on FB via the "Aloha Chickens" FB page.   

Saturday, April 20, 2019

It's 2019 - Already?

Time has been FLYING by here!  Can't believe we are well into 2019.

Haven't done many updates, because I've had not one, but two incubator mishaps in recent years.  No big deal, except these were with my large capacity Sportsman model, which holds almost 300 eggs.  Combine that with a couple of under-performing roosters, and some losses of a few best hens and roosters due to heat - and the end result is still plenty of chicks overall, but not a lot of progress forward in my program.  Lots of chicks have been hatched, but for a while I've been spinning my wheels not reaching new goals, such as improved size, improved leg color, better spotting, etc.

Alohas do not reach their full adult coloration until they are 4 to 5 months old, so the chicks that were hatched in November, December and February are just finally reaching their final mature coloration.

And, I'm here to post, at last some progress is happening!

The desired leg color (yellow) is popping up more frequently.  Spots are getting bigger and brighter.  Remember, I introduced some bigger, but solid color chickens into the mix, to improve quality and size.  When you do this, you lose the spots entirely the first generation, and then they start to come back.  If you introduce a lot of "not-spotted" chickens to the mix, it can take until it reaches the grand-chicks to see the color come back fully.  Even if you hatch and raise chicks year round, this can take about two years to finally see the results. 

Without further ado, let me introduce some of the newest Alohas that are being raised.  The best of these will be used in the Fall 2019 breeder pens. 

Note, this is not all of them.  Not only am I getting some outstanding chicks, but the "good ones" are showing up more and more frequently! 

I still haven't had a rooster here who is 100% what I've been looking for, but the good news is my friend in TX hatched an incredible rooster from some eggs that I gave her, and she in turn passed some eggs back to me . . . and some of the chicks that I'm raising right now are from these lines.  I'll post more info on the Texas Alohas in another post. 

Here's some photos of the young Alohas that are looking great in Phoenix AZ.  Photos shown are all of "teenagers" - about 4 months old, so they still need a bit of time to fill out and grow. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

February 2017 - Pen #1

Last fall, I set up a breeder pen with this guy:

My best rooster bred to date.  (Needs yellow legs.)
Not only was he the most white rooster of last year's hatch - he was also the largest.  Quite a turn around, as previously I could get color or size, but never both on the same rooster!
After last year's fiasco where my top rooster of 2015 / 2016 - a gorgeous Buff Sussex / Speckled Sussex mix - ended up infertile - I was really afraid of a repeat this year!  I penned this guy with hens in September, waited 30 days through October (it takes 30 days to guarantee the DNA is set) and put eggs in the incubator for a November hatch.

September breeding pen.
Thankfully, it was successful, and I'm happy to be raising about 18 of his chicks right now!

It wasn't without hiccup unfortunately.  Our heat was so brutal on the hens last year, they started to lay a bit in late October and into November, only to shut down due to lack of light.  Chickens naturally stop laying for the winter, based on the amount of daylight, despite the fact our temps were balmy and mild.  It wasn't their fault.  Temps stayed well into the 100's into October and everyone in the Valley was reporting the same issues in December - no eggs.

For my 10 or so hens in there I was getting maybe 2 or 3 eggs per day.  Some days, only one?

The rooster also lost interest in the hens around this same time, and eggs started turning up "blank" again, so I pulled many of the hens out and scaled the pen back down again.  Fertility on the next batch improved.  However in the meantime, dozens of eggs from my very best hens were tossed in the garbage - infertile.

Meanwhile, in the pen next door, it appeared my best rooster from the previous year had not recovered at all, and nearly every egg in his pen was a dud!

Between the two pens, I set 100+ more eggs in these months, but only about 40 hatched live chicks.

So there are issues - but I do have some chicks and we are back on track again!

I now have the pens sorted out and I have ambitiously put my favorite boy back in with a ton of hens, probably way too many, and will likely have to scale back again?  But now that the last batch tested nearly perfect fertility, I'm willing to give him a chance!

Right now I wanted to document this breeder pen, because it will be helpful later when I am growing out the chicks.  Often I will be able to tell who the Mom is based on certain features.  So here is who I put in the pen as of mid February which means any DNA in the hens will be his 100% by mid March.  (I am still keeping the hen's eggs to hatch as all will be nice chicks due to the mother.)

Mille Hens - of various sizes and shapes.
    Enjoy pictures of the lovely hens!

Terrible top line.  Can it be fixed in the offsping?
Great color..  Legs were yellow, now fading.
Hen in front: Best Color
Behind her:  Bold spots, good size
Last:  Best size, needs spotting. 

Mille hen, medium size, vivid color.
Dun Mille - from Light Sussex bloodlines. 
Light Sussex / Aloha mix - good size, needs more spots.
Needs yellow legs. Great size , bold spots.

Huge size - Buff Sussex / Speckled Sussex cross.
Best hen bred to date.  Needs yellow legs.  BIG.
Best hen bred to date.  Last year's stock.
Very pale cream background with vivid black marks.
GREAT color.  Needs size.  Otherwise fantastic.
I saw the rooster cover 3 hens while I was out taking pictures, though unfortunately I did not see him cover my two favorite girls.  So I may need to pull those girls out and pen him with just two.

Interestingly, a roo's DNA from just a single "encounter" may fertilize eggs for the next two weeks of a hen's laying cycle!  It was good to note that the longer days have kick started not just the laying of the hens, but the behavior of the rooster as well.  Both genders are affected by the increasing daylight.

Next post will cover some of this boy's babies, chicks which are now about 3 months old.

I set up a new pen, to replace the older rooster that was under- performing, and I'll share pictures and goals there later.  Hopefully I will have two functional breeder pens by the end of March?  I want to hatch as many chicks as I can before the heat turns up in May!

Monday, February 20, 2017

February Photo Dump

Lots of exciting stuff to report and tons of updates to come!

But for today, simply wanted to share some pretty photos of the Alohas.