Blue orpington x buff orpington

Discussion in 'Exhibition, Genetics, & Breeding to the Standard o' started by sillygrilla, Oct 30, 2016.

  1. sillygrilla

    sillygrilla Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 23, 2014
    This spring I bought some blue/black/splash orpington eggs to hatch. Four chicks survived (1 blue and 3 black); they are now 17 weeks old, and it appears they are all cockerels. I want to keep the blue gene in my little flock. I have some buff orpington hens - if I breed the blue cockerel to the buff hens, I think I would end up with 25% blue chicks. Is that correct? They wouldn't be considered pure blue orpingtons, though, would they?

    If I were then to breed two of those blue chicks to each other, would I end up with the usual 50% blue/25% black/25% splash results? Or would there be some buff chicks or mixtures of colors mixed in?

    I have trouble understanding genetics, so any info I can get is much appreciated.

  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    The B/B/S gene is partially dominant, kind of weird actually. If both genes at that gene pair are B/B/S you get Splash. If you only have one you get Blue. If you have none you get Black. So any Blue bird has one B/B/S and one Not-B/B/S. They give them to their offspring randomly so a chick is going to get one or the other but not both from that parent. If you hatch enough chicks the average will be around 50% Blue - 50% Black, but you often have to hatch a lot of chicks to actually hit the average. As an example, earlier this year I hatched 19 chicks. Sex is supposed to be a 50-50 thing but I had 14 pullets and only 5 cockerels. Last year my split was 14 cockerels and 7 pullets.

    The B/B/S gene only works on Black. It’s a modifier that changes the color of black feathers to Splash or Blue. So if you don’t have any normally black feathers on the bird the gene will have no effect. What this means is that your Blue is actually black under the blue. It is probably pure for that black so the chances are good that it will pass black to all its offspring. Black is pretty dominant so it will likely overpower most other genes.

    Another potentially complicating factor is that there are different ways genetically to make black and different ways to make buff. To simplify it I’ll ignore that and pretend it’s actually simple and straightforward. I’ll get into that later.

    What all that means is that if you cross your Blue cockerel to a Buff hen, in theory all the chicks will inherit the black base color. Half will inherit the blue and half will get the not-blue gene, so half will be blue and half black. You should be able to see that, but a problem (actually I like the way they look) is that the Buff has some pretty strong modifiers in it. It’s really normal for black crossed with buff to produce chicks that are mainly black but can have some yellow or even orange feathers. So you might get some yellow/black, yellow/blue, orange/black, or orange/blue chicks. Or you might get solid blue or solid black.

    For a chicken to be considered genetically pure it has to breed true. Even if you wound up with solid blue or black chickens from that cross, they would not be considered pure because they would not breed true, you’d get some buff chicks out of the mix.

    If you breed pure blue chicks you get the 25-50-25 mix you mentioned, but you won’t have pure blue chicks. You have the buff in the mix. So you will get 25% buff chicks. The other 75% will follow that 25-50-25 split. That’s ¼ Buff, 3/16 Splash, 3/8 Blue, and 3/16 Black. Of course you have to hatch enough chicks for this split to mean much. That would be a lot of chicks.

    To make it much more complicated, there are a lot more genes involved than just B/B/S, Black, and Buff. When you breed crosses you get a lot of different possible combinations of those genes. Just for fun I ran that cross, Blue male over Buff female on the cross calculator then ran the blue chicks from that cross. I got about 50 different potential colors and patterns, and that’s just for the cockerels. There are the same number of different potential colors/patterns for the females. The calculator simplified the number of genes actually there and ignores things like leakage. I really like crossing crosses, you never know what will hatch out. But once you mix them up, they are mixed.
  3. sillygrilla

    sillygrilla Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 23, 2014
    Wow, thank you so much Ridgerunner! That helps a lot. I hatched some buff Orpington/black jersey giant eggs last spring from my older chickens and the colors that came out of that hatch were brilliantly fabulous! So I'm actually pretty excited now about seeing what happens with the blue/buff cross next spring.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by