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Naked necked chickens and heat-stroke

 
Burra Maluca
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We had a bit of a disaster with the chickens today. Somehow, the door to the shelter for the fattening pen, where we had 12 assorted cockerels, had got shut, leaving the boys shut outside with not enough shelter from the sun. Of those twelve, five were full feathered, and all of them survived, and seven were naked necked, of which only one survived. Which rather leads me to suspect that one of the supposed virtues of naked necked chickens, ie their ability to better withstand heat, is a bit of a myth!

Some of the full feathered survivors were pure Light Sussex, and some of the naked necks were pure Portuguese Pedrez, but there was also a good mix of 'mutts', so it really did seem as though the one distinguishing factor was the lack of feathers on the neck making them *more* susceptible to heat. Maybe the feathers act to shade the neck, and without them the blood going to the brain heats up too much? Or something?

Thoughts, anyone?

 
John Polk
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The typical garb of the middle eastern deserts leaves no skin exposed to the sun.
Must be a reason for it.

 
Tyler Ludens
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Sorry about your chicken loss. Seems like if there's a way for them to die, they'll try it...I agree the feathers probably protect them from the sun somewhat.
 
Alison Thomas
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Burra, sorry to hear about that - how sad. We had 3 naked necks at the start but 'Mr Fox' aka the neighbour's dog got them - I was half glad as I wasn't very keen on them anyway. They were a stop gap until we got layers. That heat thing will be another reason for me to justify NOT getting anymore. Is there a special reason that you keep them other than that you like them (sorry)?
 
Burra Maluca
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The reason we tried them was that all three of the major Portuguese poultry 'breeds' (they're actually more like landraces than proper breeds) come in either full feathered or naked necked versions, and I figured that no-one in their right minds would bother keeping anything so ugly unless they had some pretty good redeeming features. I'd heard that they coped better with heat, too, so we bought some naked versions of the Pedrez, which is the barred variety. They are lovely, big, gentle chickens who lay big eggs and have excellent flavoured meat, but some of their offspring were full feathered, so they are obviously not bred specifically for the naked-neck gene. They are great birds, but I think from now on I'll only be keeping the full feathered ones.

I want to breed my own strain of Pedrez, with a dash of Cream Legbar and Maran blood thrown in to produce some nice 'easter-eggers'. Stage one is almost complete with a few olive egg layers produced from the Legbar/Maran cross, and I've just put two young Pedrez cockerels in with them to get stage two under way.
 
fei martins
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hello, just stumbled on your post about starting to breed easter eggers.
How successful have you been and do you still have cream legbars?
I really like the cream legbars they were my first chickens I bred, purchased eggs from wernlas collection in England, would be interested in purchasing two hens.
thanks, fernandinha
 
Burra Maluca
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I never managed to get a line of pure legbars. I had a good cockerel, but the hen laid white eggs and died just before the cockerel was ready to breed. Importing eggs is an expensive gamble when only about 5% of them ever hatch! We never seem to get both a male and a female of the same breed at the same time. Except for the Light Sussex which we did eventually get going.

I crossed the legbar male with a marans hen (one! I got one single marans female!!!) and produced a few 'olive eggers', carrying both a brown and green gene. Not as brown as your marans eggs - I had a look, but nice and brown nevertheless. Then selected the meatiest, heaviest hens that laid laid plenty of good-coloured eggs and crossed them with a light sussex. The resulting hens are just starting to lay now, and the egg colour is very variable as there's a one in four chance of the offspring laying green or brown or olive or white eggs. I'm going to keep the best olive-eggers again and cross them back to my other light sussex male.

I gave up on the Pedrez because they laid very few eggs and had a bad record of just keeling over at a young age. Maybe I was just unlucky and there are better bloodlines out there, but it seems as though all the little backyard breeders work 'under the radar' and really don't like being found or doing business with foreigners. Which is a great shame.

I'm also going to cross my little silkie cockerel (yup, just the one, you guessed it...) with one of the olive-eggers to try to get some more 'broody' genes going. Last year was the first year we managed to raise anything like a respectable number of chicks without the help of an incubator.
 
fei martins
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hi, well how very interesting indeed.
I suspect you might not have had pure pedrez as they are good layers. Over here the locals call all chickens with that colouring pedrez. There is an orginization near Braga called AMIBA which is preserving all Portuguese poultry and animals, There is a guy in the Lisbon area selling cream legbars, not selling hatching eggs though.
I like the auracans too, bred the lavenders, hard to sex till much older though. Eventually was forced to cross them with legbars, most hatched out with black feathers.
Very tempted to purchase Ameraucana, nice colour egg, seen some for sale up north, what is more charming than a bowl of multicoloured eggs?
Good luck with the breeding
 
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