Hello, checking in again! I lost track of time a bit, there, but the babies are 2 months old and I took pictures of them, so I knew I needed to stop by to post those. 😁
After a lot of searching and speaking to genetics folks, I have learned that there is an accumulation effect when breeding Blue to Blue, in that the Blues each generation start to be a little bit paler than the last after a while. I have no idea why dark Blues are such an issue with Silkies, unless it's just that breeding Blue to Black is more common with them, as that will darken the Blues in further generations. At any rate, this is good news for Blue 1, because I'm pretty sure he's my chosen male for my Blue pen now, and good news for the darker Blue girls as well. I'll hold back Blue 3 as well, just in case, and probably Blue 5, too, just because I'm still afraid of random freak accidents and ending up with no Blue males.
I do think that I'm going to have to cut Blue 6 from my breeding stock, though. This picture doesn't show it, but her middle toe feathering is dreadful. She barely has stubble on them! I hate to cull a pullet when so few have hatched, but I only want to put the best forward, and she's not the best. Man, this is hard!
Chocos 1 and 3 have been acting a bit off lately, though Choco 3 seems back to normal for the most part now. We've had a lot of rain lately so I have them on amprolium just in case of coccidiosis, but I'm beginning to suspect that Choco 1 is just weak because I've weaned the babies onto pellets and he doesn't want to eat them. I gave the babies the dish of feed dust from the bottom of the big girls' feeders this morning and he is eating that like he's starved, so hopefully that will help. I'm honestly considering not keeping either of the Choco boys at this point, more because of their type and foot feathering than the health issues, and getting a new batch of Chocolate Cochin bantam eggs from the other farm I came across to try my luck again next year. I think I'll send a message through to them and see if they'll send me some pictures of their breeding stock to look over at least.
And the mixed color baby... Oh, what a heartbreaker. Look at him! Lighter Blue, no leakage so far, good type, decent comb... But I can't risk holding onto the genes he might be hiding and letting them get into my lines, ugh!
Anyway, I also grabbed some shots of Trixie while I was out there, and of course Gwenyth the naked neck was being nosy as well. Those two are just over 16 weeks old now. Here they are:
Gwennie's a sweetie, if a bit sketchy. You can't approach her too fast or she runs away, but if you crouch and let her come over she doesn't mind if you stroke her feathers. Trixie's usually the attention hog of the two of them, though. She sees a camera lens and must look at it as closely as possible.
Yeah, the Blues are looking lovely. The Blacks as well, but man, I just have too many cockerels. If I don't keep a Chocolate male, I'd have room to keep one of those Black cockerels, two max but that'd be pushing it. The hard part is picking which one. Other than his droopy comb, which might correct as he matures, I think I like Black 2 the most, but it's a really close call between all of them. I already have Jack, too, who is already a good looking guy, so I guess I don't feel like I urgently need to pick one of those Black cockerels to keep just yet.
Yeah, the Chocolates are colored pretty and all (the pictures really don't capture their color well), but they have sooo many issues for their breed. They definitely look more like Cochin x Orpington mixes than like pure Cochins. It really makes me feel like I should keep looking for better stock rather than introduce a lot of issues to my silkied lines that I'll be fighting to get rid of. Getting them when I did was a moment of weakness, what can I say. 😅
Chocolate 2 would be off my keep list. I just realized it was the only girl.
Have you got the space to do one test breeding with the mixed color peep? It might be worth a try. If it fails, then sell them all.
Other than those two I can't help you at all. With Silkies it could be two years before they fully filled out. How long is it for Cochins. I know obvious faults need to go, sooner rather than later. But things might change a ton in a year if they're like Silkies.
I had a couple over time that were nothing to me. No awful faults but just didn't come close to looking like my avatar. Fast forward a year or so later and I couldn't tell they were the same birds.
Yeah, the Chocolate pullet was already a cull from my breeding groups because she wouldn't be very efficient at introducing the chocolate gene to the silkieds anyway, it being a sexlinked recessive gene. The debate with them really is only whether I use one of those males to introduce the gene, or wait until I get my hands on Chocolates from another line and hope they look better.
I suppose I could maybe squeeze the mixed color cockerel in with the keeper boys and test cross him next year. I'd already planned to try to hatch a few from Blue 3 over the Blue girls just to compare to Blue 1's babies and see how much of a difference him being so dark would make on their Blue offspring... I'll have to think about this.
With the Cochins, they seem to look mostly like what they're going to be at around one year old, they just may not have reached their full weight yet. Sometimes they fluff out a bit more as well, but by a year they're pretty much how they're going to look type-wise in my experience, or at least enough so that I can make a strong prediction at how they'll end up. They don't have any beard or crest to develop, so that might make the difference, I don't know how Silkies tend to develop. I haven't noticed a huge difference between about 18 months and now on the oldest ones (who are just under 2-and-a-half now), so it seems like that's when they've really finished growing. I can generally have a good idea how they're developing when they hit 5 months old or so, though, so that's probably when I'll make my last picks on the Black cockerels just because of space constraints preventing me from holding them much longer than that.
What is the market like in your area? Can you pair off any of those you don't want to use for breeding and sell them?
Someone told me it could take two years for a Silkies to fully fill out. I was like, right. I didn't believe it until I saw it for myself with my own.
And I need to see if I can find a pic of Dwarf. Ugliest little bird in the world but she had the heart of a lion. Shoot, I don't have one on this computer. Anyway, she didn't grow a tail until she was five years old.
The market for Cochin bantams seems favorable. The few I've listed went pretty fast. At least better than the market for English Orpingtons apparently. I suppose I could pair them off, but I only have 2 pullets that are for-sure culls and more than twice as many cockerels to rehome. 😩
Yeah, I think most people don't realize how much growing these birds still do after the first year. Even hatchery stock bulks out a bit in the second year. I wouldn't call any chicken truly fully grown until at least 18 months of age.
Talk about a late bloomer! I've had a couple Marans hatch that never grew their tail feathers in the whole time I had them, but I had both of them for less than a year. They both had tails, just no tail feathers sprouting out of them. Makes me wonder if they would have grown them in given enough time. One I didn't have room for so I sold him (I'd tried to hatch some pullets for my mixed flock and he was the only one to hatch, of course). The other was one of the meanest cockerels I think I've ever owned; he and his two brothers would jump me if I set foot in their pen and I had to carry something to defend myself if I ever needed to go in there. They all became soup because they were just not safe birds to keep or sell to someone else.
This was the one I sold, not long before someone bought him. He was about 6 months old, and that's all the tail he ever had while he was here.
Yup, I've had chickens since childhood, almost 20 years now, and never before (nor since) have I had roosters as aggressive as those three were. No idea what caused that, I raise all my birds the same way, and they weren't the only males I'd hatched from that pair not to mention their father is a gentle guy who eats out of my hand, so it couldn't have been pure genetics. I'm the same way, which is why I'm currently doctoring Choco 1 even though I'm pretty sure I'm not even keeping him, but those three were just too aggressive to save.
I don't know on the English Orpingtons. It sure seems like people still rave about them online. Must just be my area where no one wants them. 🤷♀️ A lot of people here are more old fashioned and go for the utility breeds over the fancy ones unless they're bantams, so that's probably just it. I only finally got someone to buy them after I took off the 'English' part and said name your price because I needed them gone.
I haven't had any trouble with selling the Cochin boys, but I've only ever sold a few of them in the past, so who knows. I did run into a reseller on the last one, though, who put an ad up for the exact rooster I sold to him within a week of me selling him. But the pictures showed him happy, foraging on green grass, and with a hand full of red sexlink hens to himself, so I guess I can't be too upset about how he was treated after he left my hands.
Knock on wood, most of mine were pretty good. I did have two or three that would launch at me but being Silkies I'd just laugh and give them a boot.
I wonder if they fed off each other on the meanness.
I'd probably run into the same thing here. Everyone is into the game birds or bantams of one kind or another. The rest are for meat or eggs. Few keep them like we do.
That's not too bad for that rehomed boy. A friend of me gave away two unwanted roos. The guy that took them didn't have a cage so they let him borrow theirs. Her hubs went to get the cage and found the two birds still in the cage two weeks later. Needless to say, he snatched them up and brought them in the cage.
Any improvement with the choco boy? And ask me if I'm surprised you're trying to get him feeling better.
Haha, that's how it is with the Cochin bantams like Jack who try to get mean with me! I don't necessarily boot them, but I'll push them away, or ignore them if they aren't at risk of being stepped on. I think that must be why Jack settled down after a while, because he figured out he wasn't getting anywhere with me.
Yikes on your friend's birds! 😬 I can't imagine thinking it was fine to leave them in a tiny cage like that for two weeks, let alone for any longer than to travel home with them!
No real improvement, sadly. He's down, not walking around anymore, so I'm tube feeding him so that he stays hydrated and gets plenty of calories. I'll give him a couple more days to see if anything changes, but I might have to put him down if not, which is the hardest part for me. I especially hate when they're so young. Barely got a start to life, the poor little guy. That will make two chicks out of these Chocolates that seem to have just failed to thrive for no outward reason, so I'm certainly not very happy with this line of them beyond that they simply aren't very good type for Cochins. It'd be one thing if all the chicks were sickly, but my Gopher Hills babies and the two from my own birds, all under the same care with the same feed in the same environment, are absolutely thriving.
Bobble, the defective Silkie roo, lived to be 8 years old. He never got beyond the let's attack Robin phase. It did get old after a while so he got punted. That was usually enough to get him to quit until the next time I went in his pen.
She didn't care that they might be going in the freezer but being treated like that until they were was a step too far for her.
That failure to thrive is ringing a bell with me but I can't remember if it was here. Someone I know or what. But it was several chicks from the same place.
I so completely understand the babies and not getting to live life. You've given him a chance. But you can only do so much to try to bring him back.
I agree with that sentiment entirely, about them being treated well even if they're going to the freezer. Even my three evil boys were given plenty of food and water and a spacious pen with lots of greens to forage through until it was their time.
Yeah, failure to thrive can be a genetics issue, or even a feed issue, so multiple from the same place in a brood that's otherwise fine... kinda says there's an issue from the source... I did send a message through to the other farm I'd come across that has Chocolate Cochin bantams and they've responded that they don't have current pictures of their breeders but will try to get some good ones this upcoming weekend. Here's hoping they look nice! The rest of their Cochins look pretty good in the pictures they have up of them, at least! 🙏
I was doing the math for about when any eggs I set now or reasonably soon would be ready for full time outside, and as much as I'd like to get more Chocolates going as soon as possible, there's just no way I could hatch out any more this year in time to have them outside for when we start getting frosts and freezing weather. I'll have to wait until spring to hatch any more. No way I want half-grown chickens in the house until March or April when it finally warms up again!
Oh, and... No improvement with Choco 1. Actually, he seems a bit worse today. 😟 Gonna have to brace myself for the inevitable with him, I think.
I hate to imagine if that person had any other animals, like a dog. Too many people just can't get their heads around that they have feelings. That they need us as much as we need them.
It's bugging me that I can't remember who it was struggling to keep their chicks alive. It had to be here because as they provided information I realized the problems were probably coming from the parents.
Ha, you have to wait until spring? Can't say I blame you. I had so many half grown birds in my house in the first few years it wasn't funny anymore.
I'm sorry he isn't doing better. I'm really sorry that you're going to have to make the decision.