It's been a long, hot summer! Most of the chicks are now grown and have made it past the terrible Phoenix heat. You may remember some of these from the first hatching, most of these are from eggs laid by the mysterious little hen of unknown origin. Here are photos of her again, in case you need a reminder!
She is a very small, bantam-sized hen. Her color is . . . ??? Well, it's new to me, anyway, and I don't really know what to call it. And despite her Bantam size, she is clean-legged and deep bodied, more "square" than "upright" in form like a lot of the Bantams are. I have absolutely no idea what her background is?
It was my hope to cross her with my Speckled Sussex and Exchequer Leghorn bred chickens to introduce some new colors on a larger body size.
I did not get very many eggs out of her before the heat set in, but I did get a few, and I'm really happy with this start, small as it is . . . .
Three of the chicks that hatched from eggs laid by the little bantam, those that looked the most promising all turned out to be roosters. Remember these little gold and white babies?
The top left photo shows a black and white chick and a gold and white chick. Top right photo shows a mostly white with gold spots chick. Here is how he looks all grown up today:
He is a handsome guy, and while not the largest chicken I've owned, he definately falls into the "standard" size category. The hen behind him is probably 5-6 pounds and is 3/4 Exchequer Leghorn and 1/4 Speckled Sussex to compare against him. His color is just as much a mystery to me as his mother's.
Now this fellow is of breeding age, and eggs are already in the incubator. I can't wait to see what his babies look like! I don't normally name my chickens, but to clarify things, in the future he will be referred to as "Vanilla" when his babies hatch out and start to grow.
Another rooster much like him was recently culled from the program. Overall the two were nearly identical color, but the other one had a very weird spiky double comb (????!!) which was interesting, but not what I was breeding for. Plus, this guy had better size and was more robust overall so he got first pick.
He had yet another brother that can be seen in the bottom right corner of one of the above chick photo on the right, who looked exactly like him in size and type - except wherever you see the orange on Vanilla, replace it with barred blue??
Very, very cool, totally unique, and he was being retained for the breeding program with high hopes. I found him dead in the pen at four months, good weight, perfect plumage and not a mark on him. I have no idea what killed him, he showed no signs of lethargy the days before. The loss of that white with blue rooster was the biggest "hit" the program took this summer.
Hopefully those same genes for the blue barred color are floating around in the background to (maybe) reappear at a later date?
One of only two hens that I hatched from this bantam girl. I've been calling her "Kona". At first glance she looks very similar to a Speckled Sussex, which she very well may have in her background. However, her color is more of a dusky "coffe brown" than the deep mahogany color. Her size is small standard, and she has the deeper body type. However, she has muffs on her face and a smaller comb, so hoping to cross her out and get a larger red comb and clean face while keeping this unique color.
ABOVE: "Kona" in front, "Vanilla" behind her, with an 3/4 Exchequer hen to the left.
She is laying now, and eggs with her and a mottled rooster who was 1/4 Exchequer, 1/4 Sussex, and 1/2 who-knows-what are in the incubator right now!The daddy roo to the first eggs is shown below:
ABOVE: Rooster shown as juvinille, small size, bright mottled brown, black and white.
She is now running with "Vanilla" so eggs by them will be hatching next, probably from Nov. 1 until she stops laying for the winter months . . . .
"Ginger" was from one of the last eggs laid by the little banty hen that was hatched back in late May, before the hen stopped laying due to the extreme heat. She is the most exciting one of all.
Keep in mind when you check out these photos, she is still a youngster and will not be fully mature until January. You can bet I'll be hatching out ALL of her eggs and growing them out! She is the first one that has the exciting new color I'm hoping to get, although her size will be smaller and body type is not exactly what I'm looking for.
However, this color on a Orpington/Sussex type body would be terrific! Here's hoping I'll be able to produce more like her, right now she's the only one of her kind . . .
I'm really not sure what to make of this guy? He was a really promising chick that definately appeared to be mottled. Check out his baby photos here:
Today he's still not fully mature, but I can't figure out if he's simply an existing color that's called by various terms - "Jubilee" or "Crele" or "Creole" on websites I've seen, or if he also has the mottling gene in there as well?
If you look at his neck feathers, there appear to be a few solid white ones in there. I will be keeping him around to grow out, and maybe try crossing him against some of the 3/4 Exchequer Leghorn hens to see what happens?
Checkers is just a 3/4 Exchequer Leghorn rooster, still a gangly youngster.
However, I did want to keep a male from Exchequer lines to cross back against Blue, to try for blue/white mottled standards, and possibly to cross with Kona and Ginger to avoid excessive inbreeding of the Bantam hen's lines. So, he's being kept just in case I need him.
His mottling and pattern is spectacular, even if the black/white color combo is nothing new!
Blue doesn't appear to be anything special - just a Ameraucana cross hen.
However, her daddy was 1/2 Exchequer, 1/2 Speckled Sussex. She is here as an effort to test out if those recessive mottled genes will pop out in future generations while improving size and egg production. Getting the blue base color along with mottling would be a nice bonus!
She has already proven a prolific layer, which is another goal of this program. Blue is the first of the new chicks to start laying. Her eggs are larger than the Exchequer eggs, but not as big as her full Ameraucana mom's.
Below: Blue's big Sussex and Exchequer cross dad!
My hope was to cross her with the white/blue mottled rooster, who died unexpectedly without a mark on him. Well, since that didn't work, she was crossed with the red/white/black mottled rooster of unknown origins that I got along with the gold/white/black "mystery bantam" hen.
BELOW: The dad to Blue's newborn chicks - this guy looks a lot like HER dad . . .
Five of her chicks have already hatched and more are in the incubator from this cross! Now she is running with "Vanilla" and I will be hatching out chicks from that cross as well in months to come.
Strangely, some of her newborn chicks look just like Exchequer Leghorns, and some of the chicks look just like Ameraucanas. None appear to be blue. Well, at least not now. Of course I'll be keeping the chicks, and will take photos and update here.
She is the very first hen of this second generation to successfully produce chicks, so the third generation of Alohachickens are offically here!
Two new 3/4 Exchequer, 1/4 Sussex hens were withheld for the program. They look exactly like purebred Exchequer Leghorns, although maybe they won't be as dominant for the black/white color combo as the purebreds are.
Sadly, that brings my group of hens for this program up to a whopping six hens total. That's Kona, Ginger, Blue, an old full Exchequer, and two 3/4 Exchequers.
Anyway, I sure did get a big bunch of roosters in that second generation, so the goal from here on out is to produce as many "base stock" mottled hens like Kona and Ginger to work with next year. The goal is to get 15 hens displaying mottled colors, and keep at least 3 roosters at all times. Plus to have a steady supply of new chicks growing.
I am also looking ahead, and will be ordering some larger standard size eggs to hatch out and add to the mix, to help improve size, egg production, and to prevent inbreeding. I will choose some New Hampshire Reds, which have a brighter orangey-red color than RIR, plus some Blue Orpingtons to cross with Blue's offspring. Also looking at Blue Birchen Marans and Gold Orps for fun.
A large coop was built to house the chickens safely. It is sized to fit 20 adult chickens, but it does not have areas to seperate different breeding pens. When I finally meet my goal of having enough base parent stock to work with, I will look into adding another smaller pen to seperate out groups. Right now, I can switch out roosters by releasing one and penning the others when it becomes an issue.
(With so few hens at this time it really isn't a problem, lol.)
In additon to the loss of the blue/white roo for unknown reasons, I lost a 3/4 Exchequer hen that actually showed some brown in her feathers. Seemed to be she ingested something she shouldn't have? No damage to her body at all.
I also lost three "outside" chicks that were 3/4 Buff Orp and 1/4 RIR. It was hoped those would add size to the stock, and possibly be mottled a deep rich gold and white when crossed with Vanilla, and be larger egg producers. That trio escaped out of the cage, and got into the neighbor's yard through a hole in the fence, and were killed by his dogs while they were just two months of age.
It was very sad to lose five this summer with such a small program to begin with.
Currently, "Vanilla" is the only rooster of breeding age in the pen, so for the next few months I know that all the chicks hatching from him will be his.
The red/black/white rooster is now at my neighbor's. He is the dad of the brand-new batch of chicks hatched only last week, plus the 25 eggs in the incubator. It should be safe to cross any of those hens back to "Vanilla" - although some new outside blood will definately be needed next year.
I would love to eventually split them into two pens, one to try for blue/white mottled and another to try for a bright gold-red and white mottled. But, first I just need to produce more hens and not so many darn roosters! LOL!
Today there are five chicks by Blue and the Red/White/Black rooster already hatched, plus 25 more eggs in the incubator, by Blue, Kona, and Exchequer hens crossed with the same rooster. I'll post another update in December when some feathers start to appear on the new babies, and more chicks have hatched out.