Background: I am into the third or fourth generation of my flock, selecting for members of an original easter egger/americauna x some sort of white rooster. Within the last couple generations I have accidentally stumbled across a splash gene that was hidden within my original pair. Last year, I had one chick hatch with some light black spots on otherwise yellow down. He grew into one of my current roosters and has a black feather or two on his neck against a mostly white/grey background.
This spring I hatched several more chicks with even more pronounced dalmation "spots." Another individual has the classic splash look, with a bit of red leaking:
The "spotted" chickens however, have a totally different appearance from this classic splash. They seem to be much more purely white, with straight black feathers scattered here or there:
I also noticed that whereas the regular splash bird had no indication of her trait upon hatching, all of these mottled, black-spotted birds had these patches visible in their down as soon as they left the shell. Here is one only a few weeks old, showing the trait coming in very strongly, but it does not appear as the normal splash.
One of these latest birds is now clearly a rooster, and over the last couple generations I have noticed that the red on the shoulders is entirely sex-linked. This male also has a couple black patches on his neck, although they are hard to see from this angle.
Here is the parent flock. The white rooster on the right with the black sickle feather is carrying this hidden splash/patch gene. He is the son of the original rooster, now gone. I also have one of his sons, who looks identical and might as well be a clone, but he is not in the picture.
So I am wondering if this is just a different variation of splash, or is it something else entirely? So far, there has been no shade of in-between these two traits. I have now had several birds hatch with the "patch" trait over multiple seasons, while this spring was my first time coming across the classic splash.