Success in Genetics

You always find what you were looking for when you stop looking.

I recently declared the farm finished. My body is wracked with pain, my wife is flying out of state for a second brain surgery, and a lot of the care for our animals has fallen on my kid. I have arranged to start moving the extra birds to other farms (when I finally feel good enough to catch them) just as soon as I can get some apple boxes. (That’s a pro-tip, there.)

Then, I saw this rooster. Look at him!

new rooster

This Rooster is an Easter Egger. His mother was a non-breed standard Ameraucana I got in a hatchery liquidation and his Father is my glorious throwback Auburn Java Rooster, Big Red Oed.

Now, for a little background so that you can appreciate what this 4 month old rooster represents.

My plan has been for a stirring of genetics to achieve a perfect desert chicken. I wanted a dual purpose chicken, which isn’t easy to do in a Subtropical Desert. When the weather leans toward dry and high heat most of the year, the lean, efficient eggers are the breeds that excel because the pickings are scarce and the desert is dangerous.

Big Red Oed represents a branch of Java that was believed to have died out in the 1870’s after founding most of the Red Continental breeds. Mine is from a Black line, so his genetics still produce black offspring a quarter of the time, though he lends the regular black a deep, rich beetle green, even when paired with Dark Cornish.

Javas are smart and friendly, which is a strangeness in chickens. Usually, you only get one or the other. The problem (probably due to the impressive intelligence) is that they are slow maturing. At 6 months, adulthood for chickens, Big Red Oed still looked like a hen with a fancy tail.

young red

The Ameraucanas I got grew up half wild, like Big Red, but came out a little crazy. The flock had colors all over the board, some with the necessary cheek puffs, some without. I sold them off, and only kept a few. For some reason, they refuse to sleep in the coop (probably the established females drive them away) and opt, instead, to sleep on the peak of my small barn. The birds I kept were a watery red and rich blue and their eggs are about the bluest I have ever seen.

I wasn’t sure that they were even having anything to do with my rooster until they each went broody and showed up with a couple of chicks. The hens were lousy first time mothers and, since they avoid the rest of the flock, did not gain the benefit of Big Red’s fathering instincts as much as other birds.

I haven’t been out there much in the past couple of weeks due to the Monsoon season playing havoc with my spine, so when I went out a few days ago, I was startled to discover this fine rooster.

He matured quickly. That’s a good sign.

The red from his mother gained the richness from his father and it shines in a fiery orange that my pictures do not do justice to, and his blue tail is solid, only showing the a transition of blue laced red feathers on his chest and a deep red on his back, as well as blue wings with red wingtips. He does has cheek-puffs as well, which are an Ameraucana breed standard.

I could show this bird. That’s a good sign, too.

Now, how do you get people to pay for eggs when a dozen will cost you $2 at the store? Novelty! I had originally bought the Ameraucanas for their blue eggs, and as I said, these birds had the bluest eggs I have seen. Blue enough, I can assure you that, out of that motley bunch of discount birds, this is what the hatchery was working to perfect, the rest of the bird be damned.

This rooster comes off of that line… I wonder how strong his egg color would be, genetically. Will he still cause blue eggs or will it wash out to the green of an Easter Egger chicken?

The final piece is that I try to pasture my birds, which in the desert means that I lose a lot of birds to predation. Only the smart and strong survive here, as well as the quick.

This rooster sleeps outside. In a night blind rooster, that isn’t the best trait, but it also means that he is smart enough to survive outside the protection of the flock.

This is going to be a fine rooster.

This is the chicken I was trying to cause. Big and smart like his father, fast maturing like his mother, with a gimmick worked in to sell the eggs. There are still unknown variables in this equation. Will his genetics lean toward the mediocre egging ability of the Java? I know the dominance of the Auburn Javas Red plumage quite well, but how strong is this blue? Could I breed this true? The cheek puffs that the Ameraucanas have comes from the South American Aurcana (also where the blue eggs come from) and are a lethal gene that lowers the hatch rate by 25%. Would that affect this bird’s offspring?

So many variables… A masterwork, painted in birds.

Sadly, as I said, my health is just not up to the task at the moment. I already have too many roosters and not enough hens, and I am forced to downsize.

So, here’s the deal. I could easily sell this bird for a tidy sum, but since I want to see what happens, I’ll make you a deal. If you can present me with a suitable breed program to put this bird to work in, I’ll give him to you for free. (Please allow 2-4 weeks for delivery as he sleeps onto of a building and is skittish around me, so my crotchety old frame is going to have a heck of a time catching him.)

____

As always, the link to our brain surgery fund: http://www.gofundme.com/likeaholeinthehead

Thank you to everyone who has donated so far. We have a surgery date of October First, 2000 miles away. I hope we can make it.

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2 thoughts on “Success in Genetics

  1. You wrote about this handsome rooster very well, dear husband. I’ll be sorry to see him go, even though I’ve never visited him. I hope he finds a new, wonderful farm to be the head rooster at!

  2. Pingback: Time for Hibernation at Dharmish Farms | Gypsy Rue

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