Here's photos of some of the growing chicks, now about six weeks to almost three months old!
Let's start with three different rooster chicks . .
This first guy, I've nicknamed the "Halloween Roo". He is mostly orangey red, but has spangles of white and black on his chest. Actually, I've had a few of these type born, but this one has a nice upright single comb, which is what I'm breeding for (eventually!) and shows the least amount of black. Most likely a Kona X Vanilla chick.
Sorry for the lousy photos, he's an active little guy!
Next up, a "Patriotic Rooster" in red, white and blue mottled! Most likely my gray Ameraucana hen was the mom, but the dad could either be my small red, white and black mottled rooster, or possibly Vanilla, because I switched roos mid-hatching and he was born during that "in between" time?
Here's another one, a "calico" rooster, who is a bit of a jerk! But he's so pretty, I may see if my friend who lets her chickens free-range can take him, as he's been pecking on the younger chicks in the pen:
Check out his funky double comb???
Here are some of the "ultra mottled" chicks, so far they all look like hens to me, but then again they are all still young, and getting this many nice hens would be too much good luck for my rooster-heavy hatching statistics, LOL!
What is interesting, is that these look pretty much just like the original "oddball" banty hen - that makes sense, because it's a son (Vanilla) crossed with her daughter, (Kona). So whatever color factors gave her the odd pattern, it looks like it CAN be reproduced successfully! As long as both parents carry the genes for it. Now to try in the next generation, outcrossing these to fresh new larger breeds, and then going back to this line until the size gets better . . . and still trying to keep this color? Hmmm.
They vary from almost pure white with just a few peach spots, to almost half dark, half light feathers.
There are five in all with this extreme mottled/heavy white coloration. Great!
There are other colors, including a "wild type" brown pattern with a little bit of mottling showing through, will most likely end up similar to "Kona" but with perhaps a bit lighter color. Also in there is this funky chicken I've nicknamed "Rosarita". Um, again, thinking that it's a hen, but at this age I could be wrong!
"Cleo" is the nickname for the orange hen shown below. I thought she was pretty with her Egyptian eyeliner, even though she was solid, and planned to keep her as a Mottled gene carrier. However, she recently has started to show a little bit of white speckling on her chest!
Here's another interesting variation, a red/blue fade with mottling on top!
And another oddity, a barred mottled hen. Thought this one was going to turn out pretty boring, but her big splashes of white actually make enough contrast to work! Nicknamed her "Illusion" as in "optical illusion". The lighting in this photo is poor, and really doesn't do her justice, she's a really interesting looking bird!
Keep in mind that ALL of these chicks have hatched from just two roosters and two hens! I'm well on my way of creating a breed that has a whole bunch of colors in great variation, within one flock. Now to improve size, type and egg laying abilities while still keeping these awesome colors. That's going to be the hard part!
Not Shown: Also have a couple of small, wild-brown colored chicks showing some mottling. Not too spectacular at this point, we'll see how they look when they're older. Also, a few solid brown hens that should carry mottling.
I was sent some eggs from a BYC member, and thanks to my own incompetence, only one hatched! It is a Buff Orpington crossed with Speckled Sussex. Thought it was a roo, but now it's looking like a hen. Body is deep and stout, will be good size and carry mottling. Cool! It's just a solid light brown with a few black marks on the feathers. Will be great for crossing with "Vanilla" or other roosters.
I placed an order with a commercial hatchery, that includes Buff Rock, New Hampshire Red, and a couple of Production Reds. The Buff Rocks are large buff chickens, (pale yellow) that are supposedly better layers than Buff Orpington. They are also less "fluffy".
New Hampshire Reds are similar to Rhode Island Reds, but their colors are a brighter, more "orangey" shade of red. Also larger and good layers.
This hatchery's "Production Reds" are basically "mutts" developed from NHR and RIR stock, mainly, that were bred NOT for looks or any show-breed standards, but 100% bred to produce lots and lots of eggs. So they are sure to be less attractive than the New Hampshire Reds, but also should add a whole lot of laying ability to the program!
Chicks are set to arrive March 10th, so it will be next September (or October, more likely, with our heat - September is still pretty toasty in Phoenix) before they will be laying.
The idea is to cross the "super white" mottled hens with a solid New Hampshire Red rooster that I hatched from some eggs here. Babies will be solid colored, but carry that "mostly white" color pattern, and they should also have more intense red colors on them.
Meanwhile, a mostly-white rooster, (Vanilla or someone like him) will be crossed with the solid Buff Rock, New Hampshire Red, and Production Red hens. Now, according to theory, if those two lines of chickens are crossed together, the recessive mottled color should show up on 25% of the chicks, which would make all the chicks half "large breed" and half "small Aloha stock".
Another way to go is to cross the half Aloha, half large breed chickens back to the small mottled ones. You'd get more mottled chicks, but they would only be one quarter "large breed" and three quarters "small mottled stock" so progress on better size and type would be slower, as you'd have to take those mottled 1/4 large breed chicks and cross to pure large breeds again, then back to the parent stock, over and over, back and forth, until size and production is where you want it.
Either way, it will surely be a few years before I get the type AND color I'm looking for . . .
The hens that show some mottling, but not a lot, will be crossed with a Mille Leghorn rooster. Kind of counting my chickens before they hatch, literally, as my friend (and Aloha partner) Larissa is in line to get some hatching eggs from people who own this variety. It is a very rare type of chicken, that was developed by one breeder, and now these chicks are being sold by Sandhill Preservation. The breed is exactly what it sounds like - a Leghorn with the Mille Fleur coloring, or "mottling" like the Alohas here.
Leghorns have a lighter, less stout body type than what I'd like to eventually have in my flock, but they do have an upright comb, and are not itty-bitty Bantam sized like the original odd hen that started all these exciting colors for me. They also are a new bloodline altogether, so this will be helpful in creating more diverse genetics and prevent inbreeding. When crossed to my sort-of mottled hens, like Cleo, Rosarita, and others, we should get slightly larger mottled birds, hopefully in colors that are not seen on the Mille Leghorn breed.
Going to set up a second breeding pen, so I can try crossing separate groups of hens with new roosters, and hopefully see even more variety. This, combined with new partners who I'm giving extra stock to, should help expand this breed even faster.
I'll still be trying to hatch out eggs and new chicks in the meantime. The little oddball Banty hen has gone broody, and is sitting on 11 eggs right now! Only a few are hers, of course, LOL. If she sticks with it, should have at least a few new chicks in a matter of weeks!