Things have been plenty busy here, with chicks all over the place! Despite the big numbers - probably 60+ hatched out so far - the better ones have been fairly elusive. These show the chickens after two rounds of culling. I have had to remove the ones with too much black, as the black color dominates everything, so in order to get the recessive reds and golds, that has to be taken out.
Adding black and white later, if desired, will be no problem - one Mottled Java (which is a nice large black and white chicken) could put the color back in with just one outcross.
There have been three major hatches over three months, October, November and December of 2009. Below are the crosses and what I'm left with after the first rounds of culling!
Shown here are some of the chicks from the first hatch, which for the moms, used the (solid) gray Ameraucana hen, plus Kona and the Exchequer/Sussex crosses, with a rooster shown on previous pages - a smaller roo, showing some Speckled Sussex background, but with a bit less black and brighter red tones.
Most of these chicks were black in color, so culling was very heavy. As many as three black and whites to one brown and white chick! I did keep a couple of the blue/white mottled hens to see how they turn out - even though genetically, blue is the same as black. (A gene "fades" the black to gray, so basically these are black and whites with this gray gene laid on top.) However, a couple of these blue/whites are showing large patches of brown in addition to the blue, so these patriotic red/white/blue ones are being grown out for now!
These photos show the chicks after the black and whites were removed. And boy, were there a LOT of black and whites! You may notice a solid brown hen in there, she carries mottling, and may prove useful as her size looks pretty good, so crossed with a mottled brown rooster could make some nice chicks down the road.
Shown here are the November chicks. They started out as being sired by the small Sussex-bred red/white/black roo, but because I was getting so much black and white from him, I switched over to using Vanilla (a chick hatched out of the small Banty hen) to see what I'd get next. To my surprise, these wonderful and very unique mostly-white chicks hatched out! These new "super-mottled" babies look very much like the odd little Banty hen, but are showing a variety of colors in the areas that show color - shades of gold, brown, and black. The plan is to take the super-mottled mostly white chicks and cross them with solid colored large breed chickens, and then cross those back to more 50/50 mottled chickens.
You may notice some solid-color chicks in here - some are non-mottled chicks from my own stock, but I also hatched out three New Hampshire Reds. Also, I recieved several eggs from a BYC member that had a Speckled Sussex Roo running with hens of various large breeds. I totally goofed the hatch, but I did manage to get one little roo chick, who is Speckled Sussex crossed with Buff Orpington. This guy will definately be a keeper, as even though he is solid light brown with a few dark marks, he will carry the Mottling gene from his Sussex side.
I plan on crossing him with these mottled hens that show a lot of white. Hopefully, I'll then have larger size, 50% dark/light mottled "big laying chicken" stock that will also show mottling in shades of gold, brown and red. If it works, these November chicks and the Sussex/Orp roo will all be mature around May, which means eggs (and chicks) possibly as early as June, if I'm lucky!
The solid New Hampshire Red hens will be crossed with the best rooster that shows this "excessive mottling" color. That should result in solid colored babies that carry mottling but are bigger, brighter-colored good egg layers, with fresh bloodlines for the flock.
I also plan on ordering some Buff Rock and Speckled Sussex birds from a hatchery, and just keeping one or two of each breed, to use as outcrosses to improve overall size, laying ability, and in the case of the Buff and NHR, brighten the color and help remove a lot of the black feathering. (Not that black is bad - but it can always be added back in very easily later on, with just one cross back to a darker chicken. Removing it to get gold/white, orange/white, and red/white mottled will be the tricky part.)
However, the heat in Phoenix is brutal, and it may stop these new pullets from laying until next Fall, in which case I'll need to wait until then to see if it works.
The last of the eggs hatched out in December, and I started seeing more and more of these wildly marked, mostly-white "super mottled" chicks. Then, laying stopped altogether as the days grew short. Which was honestly OK, at this point I had chicks everywhere! The babies have been going through several growing areas as they mature - a big metal tub with a heat lamp by the house, then a former rabbit hutch placed within the larger chicken coop, then a growing pen sectioned off on the floor of the larger chicken coop.
Nights have been chilly here (for Phoenix, that is) in the 30's and 40's. As it gets warmer, it will make things a bit easier for me to hatch out more, as they'll be able to go out in the unheated rabbit hutch earlier. The hens have started laying once more, so soon I'll be collecting eggs for a spring hatch.
I definately want to get more of these wildly marked, excessively white chicks for breeding, so I'll continue to keep Vanilla in there with Kona and Ginger. (I think Ginger just started laying now, but most of these chicks have been out of her darker colored but very prolific sister, Kona.) As we get closer to the new babies reaching maturity - around May, I imagine - I'll need to move Kona and Vanilla to a new safe home, to make room for the next generation and to prevent excessive inbreeding.
Here are photos showing the youngest babies, who are about a month old at this point. Enjoy!
I want to say a huge thanks to those who are already helping me with this "fledgling" project (ha ha) by taking in some of the excess stock and even getting involved with breeding Alohachickens themselves.
I can't stress enough how much of a help this is. The most important reason is by having helpers to take in the past generation of Alohachickens or culls from these groups, and keeping them safe, is that in case of a horrible loss over here (dog attack, disease, etc) having small groups of chickens from this base stock will help ensure that the genetics are not lost, even if something happens to the main group.
Also, those who are going to help breed these and hatch out chicks are adding to the genetic diversity of the future breed in general, by outcrossing the ones I give them to new and unrelated stock. Your assistance is so appreciated! It takes a lot of imagination to see in the mind's eye what this breed can become in a few years, but I suspect as the main flock over here grows larger and more impressive, even more folks will join in the fun.
Rembemer all of these beautiful chicks shown on this page are just one part of a long-term program that is in progress, and every last one of them will eventually need to find a safe home to make room for the next "new and improved" generation. By keeping them safely tucked away at new homes, I will always have the ability to backtrack and not lose years of progress if tragedy was to strike.
Extras and cull Alohachickens will continue to be FREE to dedicated project helpers! The ideal "helper home" should be in an area where you are allowed to keep a rooster, and be safely fenced from predators. (Dogs being the main issue in the city of Phoenix.) Also, helpers ideally should be able to incubate and raise future generations of chicks, or be able to deliver eggs to someone with an incubator to hatch out for them.
Progress will continue to move ahead rather slowly, but I think we'll see some big changes in the next three years, especially as more friends step in to help! I'll update with photos of these birds all grown up in a few months. Stay tuned!