Ameraucana question

Discussion in 'General breed discussions & FAQ' started by Sylverfly, Sep 30, 2013.

  1. Sylverfly

    Sylverfly Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have 4 ameraucana roosters 1 blue wheaten, 2 wheaten, and 1 white ameraucana. I will be breeding for the best blue egg color I can get in future generations and I have read that the blue egg gene is connected to the comb shape in ameraucana roosters so I was wondering if there are physical indicators I can check on my three roosters to help me advance toward the bluest eggs. I will only be keeping 2 roosters this year and I'd like to keep the best blue egg genes I can but don't have the space to wait to do a test run. I'm not really concerned with the perfect looking chicken at the moment just the egg color.

    I'm also planing on crossing the white rooster to another melting pot of a chicken breeds I'm working on, all my offspring from this mix have been white so far if I cross them to the white Ameraucana rooster what colors could he ad to the mix, I'm hoping to keep the white plumage trend going but I don't know what color genes are connected to white amerauncana chickens?

    Thanks in advance to anyone who can offer up some knowledge on this.
     
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    I think you are operating under a bit of misconception. The blue egg gene is just one gene. Either it is blue or it is not blue, which defaults to white. The blue is dominant so if just one of the gene pair is blue, the base color of the egg is blue, not white.

    What causes the color variations are all the genes that contribute to brown. Last I heard there are 13 different gens that contribute to “brown”, and who knows how many have yet to be identified? Green and brown eggs are just brown applied on top of base blue or white. This might help.

    Base blue + no brown = blue
    Base blue + brown = green
    Base white + no brown = white
    Base white + brown = brown

    What shades of green or brown you get depends on which of these “brown” genes are present and how they interact.

    The gene that determines blue or white base color is located real close to the gene that determines if the comb is pea comb or not pea comb on the chromosome. It is so close that 97% of the time, the blue egg gene and pea comb stick together. So while the pea comb gene is a real good clue there is also a blue egg gene there (if the is a pea combed blue egg layer) it is not an absolute 100% sure thing.

    One thing that might help you out is that the pea comb gene is not completely dominant. If the chicken has one pea comb gene and one not-pea comb gene at that gene pair, the pea comb gene will influence the appearance of the comb but it will not be a pure pea comb. It will look kind of wonky.

    You have two approaches to getting really blue eggs. First, you can only keep breeding chickens that hatch from your bluest eggs. Which hens to keep is easy. Look at their eggs. A rooster doesn’t lay eggs so you are at a bit of a disadvantage on which ones to keep, but in general if he hatched from a blue egg, he will probably help you out. After his daughters start to lay, you will have a better idea of what he is contributing. By doing this you should eventually eliminate those random genes that are contributing brown. One disadvantage to this though is that if all your chickens have both genes in a gene pair that causes a bit of brown, you can never eliminate it. But that is rare. You can be successful with this approach.

    The other way to get a bluer egg is to cross your chickens with a breed that lays a pure white egg. That way you introduce the non-brown genes to your gene pool. You will also introduce a lot of non-Ameraucana genes to the gene pool too and those can be a pain to get out. Another downside to this approach is that you introduce the non-blue gene. The first generation of this cross will have one blue and one not-blue. Since blue is dominant, you won’t know if blue egg laying hen has one copy of the blue egg gene or two copies at that gene pair in the next generation. Since roosters don’t lay eggs, you don’t know if they have any blue egg genes.

    This is where that connection of the pea comb and blue egg gene comes in handy. With all else equal, if you elect the hens and roosters with pure pea combs instead of that wonky pea comb, you tremendously improve your odds of eliminating that non-blue gene.

    Hope you can get something useful out of all this garbled rambling. Good luck!
     
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    Now for your other question. White can be a hard color to work with. There are two different genes that could give you an all-white chicken. They are totally unrelated, but one is called dominant white and the other is called recessive white. It’s hard to know when you are dealing with an all-white chicken if you have dominant white, recessive white, or maybe both. It can be real hard to tell what is hiding under that white.

    In chicken genetics it seems there are always exceptions. There are so many melanizers, diluters, and other modifiers that you can practically always come up to an exception to a general rule. So take what I am about to say as generally true but subject to some exceptions.

    I consider dominant white the weak one. Its effect on feather color depends on what other genes are present. With certain other genes present you can get an all-white chicken even if just one of that gene pair is dominant white. With other genes present you may get a chicken with some white but other colors or patterns present, maybe a red chicken with a white tail instead of a normal black tail even if both of that gene pairs is the dominant white.

    Recessive white will give you an all-white chicken if both genes at that gene pair are recessive white. It pretty much has no visible effect if you have one recessive white and one not-recessive white at that gene pair. It is extremely powerful and can cover up practically anything if it is paired up but extremely weak if it is split, or one recessive and one not-recessive.

    If you cross two white chickens that are pure for the recessive white gene, you are going to get white chickens.

    If you cross two white chickens that are based on dominant white, you could get some surprises depending on how pure they are genetically, but you should get all or mostly white chickens.

    If you cross a white chicken based on dominant white with a white chicken based on recessive white, you are likely to get a lot of different colors or patterns. Who knows what is hiding under that recessive white and how it will interact with dominant white?

    I don’t know if your white Ameraucana is based on dominant or recessive white. I don’t know if your other white chickens are based on dominant or recessive white. Intuitively you would expect white chickens from a white to white cross, and that is really possible. But you may be in for some real surprises.
     
  4. Sylverfly

    Sylverfly Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks, that was pretty easy to follow, as far as this whole genetic business goes anyway. I like the eggs and the chickens too but part of the fun of breeding and raising is the mad scientist gig, lol. But seriously that was very helpful thanks Ridgerunner! [​IMG] :)
     

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