The Evolution of Atlas: A Breeding (and Chat) Thread

Discussion in 'Pictures & Stories of My Chickens' started by speckledhen, May 8, 2014.

  1. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude Premium Member

    After thinking about this long and hard, I've decided that, though this is technically a breeding thread, bringing to fruition a plan laid out for me by the late, greatly respected breeder and authority Robert Blosl, who we lost all too soon, I will not put this thread in the Exhibition and Breeding to Standard section. Though I know the standard for the Plymouth Rock and I know the standard for my favorite of that variety, the barred, and that is pretty much what I am attempting to do, I admit that I do get a bit "itchy" when folks try to tell me what I must do with my birds. I have traits that I feel are higher in importance for my own flock and some that others feel are important that I don't put as much emphasis on so I have my own standard to satisfy. That being said, here is the story, if you want to read it. If not, just look at the photos, no problem.

    I had a nice breeding group of Marvin Stukel line Barred Rocks, still have the hens. I made a decision to give my breeding rooster to a friend for his own, who was subsequently killed by a poisonous snake so that I didn't even have access to his progeny in the future. I was left with three hens and one of his daughters out of one of those hens. As males, I had several sons out of the Stukel hens with my heritage line Delaware rooster, Isaac. I rehomed one as his size was not what I wanted and his personality was not as calm as the others. One in particular was very impressive, not appearing to be a cross at all and absolutely huge. This one my DH named Indy, and he and his single factor barred slightly younger brother, Rex #2, were my chosen keepers, though I had put all my figurative eggs in the "Indy" basket. Wouldn't you know it, though? Indy was killed at about 24 weeks old by his sire, a lucky hit on the back. So, I was left with Rex, named for the original Stukel male, his uncle.

    Before Bob Blosl died, he told me the best way to get back to the form, color and the fabulous tail of the original Rex was to cross Indy over his mother and Rex's daughter, Druscilla, who would carry the most of his genes. Since the death of Indy nipped that plan in the bud instantly, I would have to use Rex #2 or hatch more from this line from purchased eggs. Since Dottie suddenly went broody and I couldn't locate the eggs I wanted, I decided to give it a go using Rex.

    These chicks are the result of the first hatch from them, my F1 group. No, I didn't toe punch or wing band or in any way ID which chick came from which hen, other than to know that one of the black pullets is from Ida's egg, the last to hatch. These are being broody raised, by Dottie, so obviously hatched under her, making it a tad difficult to know which was which. Two eggs were Dottie's, one was Wynette's, one was Ida's ( I know this was a black pullet, last to hatch) and one was a BR egg but I wasn't sure which hen laid it so could be Druscilla's, the original Rex's daughter with Dottie. Two pullets are solid black due to Rex not carrying the usual two barring genes of a regular BR male. There are two barred pullets and then there is a very promising cockerel I have named Atlas.

    To start, they all seemed like pullets. Atlas had, at first glance, the smallest, most defined head spot of all, was very dark, and in my years of experience with BRs, seemed to be the most definite pullet. However, I didn't notice the tiny shadings of frosting on each side of the back of the head that usually indicate male so surprise! I got my possible Indy replacement. As his barring came in, I held my breath as I watched the lines form in sharp precision on the little wings. Now, Atlas and his sisters are 4 weeks old and I decided to follow his progress in this thread.

    I'll start with photos of them at about a week old.
    Atlas, far left, looking very pullet-like.
    [​IMG]

    The chick at the bottom right corner is Atlas
    [​IMG]

    As they grew-first pic below, Atlas at far right, standing like a cockerel.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    His barring was coming in nicely:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    And today with his sisters, both barred and black-no question who the male is here now:
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    one of the barred pullets in front here:
    [​IMG]
    The little guy is much slower to feather than his siblings. His wing tops are still bare.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    Here are the black pullets and one of the barred pullets. I will be selling both black pullets as well as one of the barred pullets when Dottie is less enthusiastic about mothering them. If there is a late blooming single barred cockerel in there rather than a pullet, I'll know by the time Dottie lets them go, but by 4 weeks of age, you usually know with these.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    If you can get this thing on photobucket to buffer well enough, here is a short clip of Dottie with the chicks today. Crow activity made her alert in the middle of it.

    http://s673.photobucket.com/user/Mtnviewpoultry/media/Video Clips/DSCN3242_zps83572e27.mp4.html


    The proud papa, Rex.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    And some of the mothers of the chicks with my friend who was visiting this weekend (BR hens only). Click to see them better.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    This was Indy, if you haven't seen photos of him. I really felt his loss when he was killed, but he had some faults that my current Rex does not have, i.e., the high tail angle, too narrow leg breadth, etc. When Indy was killed at around 24 weeks of age, he was already surpassing his Delaware sire, Isaac, in size.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    So, I will be posting progress photos of Atlas as I see if he will bloom into what I hope. Check back if you're interested in watching Atlas grow. There is a story behind the name that my friend Ladyhawk, spoiling my chickens in the photos above, can tell you if she pops in. The name originally belonged to a very brave son of my late Blue Orpington rooster, Suede.
     
  2. drumstick diva

    drumstick diva Still crazy after all these years. Premium Member

    85,591
    16,796
    866
    Aug 26, 2009
    Out to pasture
    Love this thread - I feel like I have a front row seat watching Atlas develop[​IMG].
     
    getaclue and Swanpond like this.
  3. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude Premium Member

    diva, thank you for stopping by to check out Atlas! I hope he proves to be an interesting subject. He's getting the very best schooling possible from Dottie. He's already scared the life out of me once when I heard frantic squealing from outside. DH found Atlas had gotten himself in a predicament, wedged between a rock that lines the slight opening at the front edge of the main coop and the bottom of the coop itself, probably having gotten inside Rex's pen, then having gone underneath and tried to get out through the front edge. He sure can yell!

    Dottie was frantically pacing back and forth, not being able to help get her son out. She's a great broody so I know he's getting the very best education. Hopefully, he won't do himself in before he grows up!
     
    getaclue likes this.
  4. Happy Chooks

    Happy Chooks Moderator Staff Member

    39,824
    1,299
    516
    Jul 9, 2009
    Northern CA
    My Coop
    Great thread Cyn. I look forward to watching your project grow! And I hope you get the results you are hoping for!
     
  5. 1muttsfan

    1muttsfan Overrun With Chickens

    19,042
    1,574
    396
    Mar 26, 2011
    Upper Peninsula Michigan
    My that Indy was a fine boy.

    Love to see photo progressions, and will watch with interest as your project proceeds.
     
  6. crazyhen

    crazyhen Overrun With Chickens

    3,195
    80
    254
    Aug 26, 2008
    mtns of ,NC.
    I will be following his progression as well. Good luck with him.[​IMG]
     
    Swanpond likes this.
  7. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude Premium Member

    Thanks to all of you for checking in! I was just out taking a few photos of the little monster. I promise that I won't bore you with them on a daily basis, but was trying another camera setting, the sports setting, since they move around so fast, it's hard to get a non-blurry photo.

    In the first photo, at the top is one of the barred pullets. Could have just as easily been a single barred male, but pullets would be easier to find homes for. I'll keep just one of these barred girls, mainly so Atlas won't be without a peer group in the flock, but I'm not sure how they'll turn out.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    There are good meanings behind his name, all of which fit well, but the best one is a story that Ladyhawk will tell you when she gets time. Other than the story of the first Atlas, the other meanings are:

    Atlas
    1
    . a Titan who was forced by Zeus to bear the sky on his shoulders.
    2. a person who supports a heavy burden; mainstay.

    A rooster certainly does bear a heavy burden, especially a free range rooster.
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2014
  8. Cetawin

    Cetawin Chicken Beader

    13,752
    58
    333
    Mar 20, 2008
    NW Kentucky
    Good Lord I was still in my Jammie bottoms in those pictures. I tend to not worry about such things of the fashion police when it is let the birds out time. I just throw on my chicken shoes and begin spoiling them time. [​IMG] Atlas is such a handsome boy...as for his adorable black sister....you must name her Lucy and you must save her for me on my next visit....wrong way Lucy would be perfect around this Menagerie'.


    The name Atlas I believe was my suggestion and Cyn liked it, it will give the boy something to grow into and measure up to for sure. The original Atlas was a beautiful black Orp cockerel that I picked up from Cynthia about 3 years ago I believe (I raid her coops every year so it is sometimes hard to remember who came home with me when hehehehehe). I went to her house to bring home what would come to be the last daughters of her blue orp hen, Smoky and two black orp cockerels (one I had named Atlas) for another BYCer that was here in Kentucky. The blue pullet was injured by the boys the day before I arrived to pick them up and she died suddenly after returning home so I decided to hang on to the cockerels for a few more weeks so Zena was not alone through quarantine and as time went on it looked like the two boys would be staying with me because I could not catch up with the other BYCer to give her the cockerels. so I had moved them into a doggie playpen in my main coop so the other birds could get to know them and give them more growing room and things were going well. The boys were turning into big beautiful boys worthy of being the sons of the late great Suede when all hello broke loose here.

    Short abridged version....I had several pens in a 10 x 20 coop....one house a trio of Partridge Silkies, one housed d'uccles, the playpen had the three orp juveniles and one housed near adult Silkies....the main area housed my main flock of standards. The particular day was a weird one anyway...we had a couple sheriff's deputies here and were talking to them near our big barn which is on the other side of our farm from my coops with the house between them. I heard the chickens fussing which is not uncommon for that time of day because of the layers all announcing their wonderful feats of the day but it continued so I kept glancing towards the house and coop nervously and decided to move closer to the house with the officers speaking to my husband and I and moving with us. Suddenly you can see the chaos going on....and out runs a Rottweiler with Atlas in its mouth. I yelled one of the officers asked if it was my dog and I said "No shoot it". The officer shot the dog who was being followed by my head rooster Lancelot and several hens. Here is what makes Atlas so special and the point of the story really....Cynthia and I learned something very important that day....the birds will discard all hierarchy and personal dislike to fight together.

    The dog went into my coop and began chasing he birds and was met by 7 roosters and cockerels and numerous hens that fought to the death in some cases defending the younger birds and the girls. My main boys were fighting with several of their hens....the partridge silkie rooster got into the fight, one of the juvenile silkie cockerels got out and into the fight, the d'uccles were fighting and young Atlas and his brother jumped out of their playpen and into the fray to fight and defend their sister Zena. It was chaos. The bantams being smaller and more agile were attacking this dog from above and from the sides...the hens were attacking it and young Atlas was attacking the dog's face while the big standard roosters were slamming the dog with powerful feet and spurs. When the dog was dead and the dust had settled...I had lost most of my boys and as I recall one pullet and one hen.

    So Atlas and his brother who fell long before Atlas, were very brave. Even though they were very young and did not stand a chance against a dog that size, they jumped into the fray and fought to the death to protect the flock. Boys are very special to me and a brave boy that is human friendly and good to the girls is a prize....I had a coop full of them that day, many of whom sacrificed themselves for the girls.

    So when Cynthia realized she had a young cockerel that had such promise for breeding, I suggested that he be named Atlas....a good strong name for a future big strong brave boy.

    I wish I could find my original post of the incident because the minute detail elude me but suffice it to say....young Atlas has been honored with the name of very brave boy.
     
    5 people like this.
  9. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude Premium Member

    I am in awe of what those roosters (and hens) did that day against a common foe every time I remember it. Atlas could have stayed in his pen and probably been safe, but he and his brother chose to leave their safety and fight alongside the others, though they were but 15 weeks old or so at the time. My little Atlas has huge spurs to fill (so to speak).
     
  10. drumstick diva

    drumstick diva Still crazy after all these years. Premium Member

    85,591
    16,796
    866
    Aug 26, 2009
    Out to pasture
    What a story, when the movie comes out please tell me! What you had were the finest batch of "braveheart "chickens, I hope you were left with many descendants to carry on.
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2014

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by