Ameraucana leg color or ear lobe color to determine egg shell color?

Discussion in 'What Breed Or Gender is This?' started by MyLittleRedCoop, Oct 9, 2013.

  1. MyLittleRedCoop

    MyLittleRedCoop Chillin' With My Peeps

    143
    9
    98
    Jun 21, 2012
    My Coop
    I've got 3 Easter Egger / Ameraucana hens that I got at our feed store this spring. All 3 have the ear muffs and the "beard". Lol. I call them my bearded ladies.
    One has started laying gorgeous pale blue eggs. She's got willow green legs and mostly white earlobes.
    The other two also have willow green legs, but red earlobes. What color will they lay? I keep hearing different things.
    For the future, if I want more blue eggs, should I only take the fertile blue ones or could other non-blue eggs from EE girls still produce a blue layer? I have a mixed flock, with a Buff Brahma, a Speckled Sussex and a Welsummer roo. (They get along great, as they were all brooded together). Or will I only get blue eggs if I have an EE roo?
    Thanks!
     
  2. WalkingOnSunshine

    WalkingOnSunshine Overrun With Chickens

    4,210
    454
    328
    Apr 8, 2008
    Ohio
    First, they are Easter Eggers, since they came from a feed store and have green legs.

    I would guess that your lady with the white earlobes is a Leghorn cross, so her genetics are a blue egg gene X white egg gene, the blue is dominant so she lays blue eggs.

    Your other ladies with their red earlobes sound like they have some Plymouth Rock in their backgrounds (or some other brown egg layer). They probably have a brown egg coating gene and a blue egg gene and will most likely lay green eggs. They also have a slight chance of laying brown or pinkish eggs.

    You will get a mix of egg colors from their offspring, since the hens carry the blue egg gene which is dominant. With your brown egg layer roos, you should get approx. 50% brown egg layers and 50% green egg layers. (This is predicated on the assumption that your red-earlobed hens lay green eggs. If they lay brown eggs, you'll get 100% brown egg layers from the crossing.) With your Welsummer, you'll make Olive Eggers.

    If you want blue eggs and not green ones, you'll need an EE roo or a white egg layer roo crossed with your blue egg laying hen.
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2013
    3 people like this.
  3. enola

    enola Overrun With Chickens

    If she finds an EE rooster with blue egg genes she will get pullets that lay blue eggs. If the EE rooster came from a green egg his genes will most likely produce pullets that lay every color but blue - green ( of varying shades ) brown or pink (which is just pale brown)
     
    1 person likes this.
  4. Lady of McCamley

    Lady of McCamley Overrun With Chickens

    5,671
    1,825
    361
    Mar 19, 2011
    NW Oregon
    What happens if you have an EE rooster over a brown layer?

    If he came from a green egg?

    If he came from a blue egg?

    Does it end up all brown or is there a possiblity of brown or green?

    Curious (have 2nd generation EE mixes that came from brown egg layers and EE roo)...the pullets have red ears (what looks to be a Wyandotte/EE and Welsummer/EE) and one has white ears (Sumatra/EE).
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2013
  5. WalkingOnSunshine

    WalkingOnSunshine Overrun With Chickens

    4,210
    454
    328
    Apr 8, 2008
    Ohio
    EE roo from blue egg, heterozygous--assume w (white) and Bl (blue) genes OR he could have gotten a br (brown gene) and a white gene. If he got a blue gene, you'll get 50% wbr (brown egg layer) and 50% Blbr (green egg layer). If he didn't get a Bl, you'll get 50% brbr and 50% wbr, so varying shades of brown.

    EE roo from green egg, may be heterozygous--br x Bl, might be homozygous brbr since he could have gotten a brown egg gene from mother and/or father. You'll get 50% brbr (brown egg layers) and 50% Blbr (green egg layers) OR you'll get 100% brown egg layers.

    So no matter what color of egg your rooster came from, you'll either get 50% brown and 50% green egg layers or 100% brown egg layers.

    What will change with whether he came from a green or blue egg is the shade of green you get, with darker brown egg laying mamas making more olive eggs and lighter brown egg laying mamas making paler green eggs. Also, if the rooster hatched from a blue egg, you're more likely to get those gorgeous sea-foam green eggs when crossed with a light brown egg laying mama.

    Does all that make sense?
    (Also, I really hope I didn't get confused somewhere in all this trying to keep it straight in my head. If I have a chance, I'll work it out on paper and report back)
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2013
    2 people like this.
  6. Lady of McCamley

    Lady of McCamley Overrun With Chickens

    5,671
    1,825
    361
    Mar 19, 2011
    NW Oregon
    Yes...I think so...

    I understand the underlying concept of how one gene pair from dad and one gene pair from mom mix and match...and you have to work out the variations with a gene chart (punnett square?).


    I just haven't read exactly what genes do what for chicken characteristics and tend to get lost in the long listings of all the things that do this or that.[​IMG]

    Thanks for simplifying this aspect...I'm slowly getting this stuff into my head. [​IMG]

    Bottomline...If I'm lucky I have a 50/50 chance of green or brown eggs from these pullets....or 100% chance of brown if not so lucky. (If they lay well...I'm happy...color is fun...and I'll eventually get that.)

    These chicks came from my grab bag of eggs that were supposed to be from pure layer breeds...but I'm finding a guessing game of genes as an EE roo was obviously involved (warned they "might" have some "Ameraucana" in them). Will be fun to see what they lay when they lay. They all hatched from beige to brown eggs.

    Thank you very much for taking the time to explain.

    Lady of McCamley
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2013
  7. WalkingOnSunshine

    WalkingOnSunshine Overrun With Chickens

    4,210
    454
    328
    Apr 8, 2008
    Ohio
    Egg color genetics are far and away the easiest thing to understand about chicken genetics. The long lists of what's dominant and what's not also make my head spin, especially on feather color genetics.

    Here's a good explanation of Mendelian genetics at a middle school level. http://www.exploringnature.org/db/detail.php?dbID=22&detID=2290

    The egg color genetics work as straight Mendelian on a Punnett Square, but are much more sophisticated on a molecular level (isn't everything?). Luckily, the way it works out you can still use the Punnett Square even with the fact that some of the genes are co-dominant (work together, instead of one simply overpowering the other) because of the way the genes work together.

    Here's the basics on what you need to know about egg color genetics:
    • The different version of a gene are called alleles. Some alleles are dominant and some are recessive. A dominant gene always expresses itself and hides the recessive gene. In genetics, the dominant gene is written as a capital letter and the recessive as lower case. They should both be the same letter technically, and I should write B for blue and b for white since the blue is dominant over the white, but I think it's easier to see if I use more intuitive abbreviations.
    • There are two main egg shell colors, (w)hite and (Bl)ue. I've capitalized the B in blue because it is a dominant gene and always expresses itself over white.
    • There is a coating gene for the (Br)own egg. A brown egg is a white shell with a brown coating. If the brown coating is present, it always expresses itself. It doesn't matter whether a blue shell gene or a white shell gene is present since the coating gene is in addition to the shell color gene (no dominance comes into play, it's just whether the gene is there or not). However, since blue always trumps white, you can just ignore the white gene and say a brown egg is Br (capitalized because it's dominant, too). That makes the Punnet Square really easy to fill out (if not technically correct).
    • A blue egg is a straight-up blue egg shell. Because the blue is dominant, you know that birds genes are either BlBl or Blw, as either combination will express as blue.
    • A green egg is a blue shell with that brown coating. It has to be BlBr.

    Therefore, you first have to make some assumptions about your EE roo. I am going to assume that he has one copy of the Blue egg gene and one of the brown coating gene. I'm assuming he has a blue gene because if he didn't also have the pea comb and beard (associated with the blue egg gene 98% of the time) you wouldn't call him an EE. So your EE Rooster = Bl x Br

    Your Wyandotte (BrBr) and Welsummer (BbBr) x EE (BlBr) crosses will both have the same 50-50 chances to either be:
    Br X Br OR Br x Bl

    Your Sumatra (ww) X EE has a 50-50 chance to be:
    Br x w OR BL x w

    Put those geneotypes into the Punnett Squares as described on the links I gave you and you'll see it's pretty easy.

    Of course, this is why I always sell my EE roos and only use Ameraucana roos for breeding my colored egg layers. It makes the genetics sooooo much simpler!
     
    3 people like this.
  8. Lady of McCamley

    Lady of McCamley Overrun With Chickens

    5,671
    1,825
    361
    Mar 19, 2011
    NW Oregon
    Thank you again WalkingOnSunshine.

    I printed out your response to ponder and study.

    You are right...it was reading about the genes for feather colors that caused my eyes to glaze over and all genetic information immediately dissipated into the mists of confusion. Combs seem tricky to me too.

    So, I'll start with egg color. And your post will help.

    Someday, I dream of starting my own little breeding flock...but I have a lot to do and learn before then.

    Thanks again. And thanks for the vote of confidence...I made it to middle school level in genetics! [​IMG]

    Lady of McCamley
     
  9. WalkingOnSunshine

    WalkingOnSunshine Overrun With Chickens

    4,210
    454
    328
    Apr 8, 2008
    Ohio
    Hey, no insult intended. I used that link because I figured so many people of so many educational levels would see it and might be interested. Want me to pull out some of my molecular genetics stuff for you? [​IMG]

    Actually, the Mendelian stuff they teach in middle school is really all you need for basic egg color stuff, so I didn't want to muddy the waters. Without going into detail, all that happens at higher levels in Mendelian genetics is the Punnett Squares start getting bigger and more complex, and you have to account for genes that are codominant--that is, they both express at the same time rather than one expressing itself and one not. It's the difference between the straight dominance behavior of the blue eyes/Brown eyes coloration in humans vs. the codominant stuff that happens when people have gray eyes or green eyes, which take more genes to achieve.

    (Actually, I ought to pull out all my old molecular genetics stuff, so *I* can remember it. I just got my 20 year college reunion stuff in the mail yesterday. NO WONDER I've been having trouble wrapping my brain around the feather-color genetics. I haven't done any genetics work in something like 16 years!)
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2013
  10. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

    20,123
    3,323
    496
    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    Another thing that complicates this is that there is not one brown gene. Last I heard there were 13 different genes recognized that affect the shade of brown when they are present and who knows how many unrecognized ones. Then you have all the dominant-recessive, co-dominant, partially dominant and all that so how one gene acts can depend not only on dominant recessive but on what else is there. One of those 13 recognized is sex linked.

    I agree with you though, egg shell color genetics are simpler and more straightforward than feather genetics. There are so many melanizers, diluters, and other modifiers that every time I learn something on feather color or pattern someone comes up with an exception.

    By the way, there is no genetic link to earlobe color and egg shell color. With most purebreds bred in accordance with the SOP, the red earlobes = brown eggs and white earlobes = white eggs I generally true. That’s probably where that came from. But Penedesenca have white earlobes and lay dark brown eggs and Phoenix have red earlobes and lay white or tinted eggs. There are other examples where that “rule” doesn’t hold with purebreds. When you get to crossbreds that rule certainly doesn’t hold. I have mutt hens with white earlobes that lay brown eggs, sometime fairly dark brown.

    Similarly there is no link from leg color to egg shell color. I once had a yellow legged hen that laid a pretty mint-green egg.

    There is a possible genetic link though that you can use. It’s not 100% but it’s pretty good. The blue egg gene and the pea comb gene are real close together on the DNA. They are so close together that one of the experts on here that I really trust said there is a 97% chance that if the pea comb gene is given to an offspring, the blue egg gene will also. For this 97% to mean anything the chicken needs to be split for both the pea comb gene and the blue egg gene and the other chicken can’t have either the pea comb or blue egg gene. Also the two genes need to be linked to start with. Otherwise the odds get all messed up.

    Where this comes in handy is with the rooster. You can tell if the hen has the blue egg gene by looking at her eggs. Roosters don’t lay eggs. If you have what is supposed to be an EE rooster and he has a pea comb, the odds are pretty good he has a copy of the blue egg gene unless one of his parents that lays brown or white eggs (or has the genetics for brown or white eggs) also has a pea comb.

    It gets even better. The pea comb gene is one of those partially dominant genes. If the chicken is pure for the pea comb gene, both copies at that gene pair on the DNA are pea cob, the chicken will have a pea comb. But if the chickens is split for the pea comb (has only one copy) you will get a wonky pea comb. You’ll still see the effects of the pea comb gene but it won’t look right. Probably some extra growth to make it a little higher. So if you have a chicken with a pure pea comb, it probably has two copies of the blue egg gene too. That’s good to know when you are selecting your breeders.

    This being chicken genetics there has to be a complicating factor. If you have the rose comb gene in the mix, that will also affect what the comb looks like. Rose + pea gives you walnut. Plus there are modifiers that can give you a wonky looking comb anyway, such as the modifier for a buttercup comb. It’s not always as straight forward as I made it sound a couple of paragraphs up, but the 97% rule can be a powerful tool in helping you select your breeders.
     
    3 people like this.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by