Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Blue color

Backyard Poultry forwarded a question from a reader about Blue Andalusian chickens. She'd heard that the blue color was not desirable for exhibition.

On the contrary, Blue is the only color variety of Andalusian chickens recognized for exhibition. The difficulty is with the inheritance of the blue color. Unlike other color varieties, it does not breed true, which means that when two blue chickens are bred to each other, all the resulting chicks are not blue. They will be a mixture of black, splash (black and white irregular patterned feathers) and blue individuals.

The APA Standard of Perfection describes it this way:

Blue Fowl, actually of a bluish slate color, genetically are black fowl in which the black pigment granules are modified in shape and distribution on the surface of the feather, creating a dilution of black and causing the characteristic bluish slate color. This condition is the hybrid expression of two hereditary color factors, black and a form of white (usually with some splashing), neither of which is dominant over the other, but which are blending in character. Blue to blue will produce offspring one-half blue, the other half evenly divided in black and splashed whites: and blue to black, and blue to splashed will produce the parent types equally, while black to splashed will produce all blues.

This sounds confusing, but if you think of the birds in your flock and how you would breed them, it will come clear.

It's more complex than breeding another color variety and knowing what to expect in terms of color. Breeding programs with the goal of approaching the Standard have more points to trip on. Conformation, comb, skin color and other breeding challenges have to be considered along with the additional complication of getting fewer offspring with the desired color.

They are beautiful, and this reader was especially fond of their large chalk-white eggs. They are worth the effort.


Amy - "Twelve Acres" said...

Genetics is a fascinating subject, often too complex for me, but interesting anyway. The only blue birds I have are Swedish ducks. Here's a fun little genetics calculator: http://home.hetnet.nl/~h.meijers69/overzicht.htm#kipcalculator

PoultryBookstore said...

Thanks! Blue Swedish ducks are lovely.