Sommer Prosser's drive to create a new breed of chickens began when she first saw a photo of Swedish Flower Hens, with mostly white heads and body spotting. She loved them but they're expensive to import from Sweden. So she started crossbreeding American breeds with the goal of creating beautiful birds that are also easy to care for and great egg layers.
She calls her birds Aloha chickens because of the colorful shirts worn in Hawaii.
"The idea was to take a practical farm chicken and dress it up in a colorful package. Alohas are supposed to be strong, tough, easy-care chickens "with color added on top," she says. "I floundered around trying mixes of Exchequer Leghorn, Speckled Sussex and New Hampshire Red, but I didn't have any real luck until I found a few small "mystery chickens" of unknown origin in Phoenix. They were small in size, but had incredible spotting."
After seven years of breeding, she says her small Aloha hens breed true, and they are ideal in Arizona's heat where larger birds struggle to survive. But she knows most chicken folks like bigger birds, so she continues to breed to achieve spotting and size.
"Every time I introduce a stout, heavy breed into the mix, however, it takes about two years to bring the color back. Sometimes, Alohas want to return to their smaller size in a few generations, so outside blood is critical to keep size up," Prosser says.
Alohas may be any shade of brown, red or gold with white spotting on top. Prosser also likes bright yellow legs, upright, fan-shaped tails, and roosters with large upright combs.
Arizona chicken folks are happy with the size and like having a locally grown breed that is "feisty, clever, tough and pretty to look at." Prosser sold more than 1,000 chicks locally last year through Craigslist. Because temperatures are too hot to ship from Phoenix most of the year, her biggest challenge is getting Alohas outside the state to interested breeders.
"If anyone is passing through Phoenix, driving fresh hatching eggs across country has been the absolute best way to get a new flock started, in a very cost effective way. You'd have about one week to get the eggs home and into an incubator to hatch," Prosser says, noting she could arrange to meet people with the eggs at local truck stops.
For more information about her breeding program, she suggests checking out her blog: alohachickens.blogspot.com. She also has a Pinterest page with Aloha photos.ˇ
Contact: Sommer Prosser, Phoenix, Ariz. (User name "alohachickens" at www.backyardchickens.com).