Breeding for YELLOW legs

Discussion in 'General breed discussions & FAQ' started by Yard full o' rocks, Dec 14, 2009.

  1. I currently have Plymouth Rocks (in 4 color patterns) and Delawares. My rocks don't have the true yellow legs you see (or is called for by APA stds) although they are dusky yellow (yellow with a light slate over them) which is acceptable.

    I don't show birds (and really dont intend to) but would like to work toward APA standards.

    Does yellow leg color come from one parent or the other? Both? Do you just have to hatch a LOT and cull for color as best you can?

    Any advise would be greatly appreciated.


  2. cybercat

    cybercat Songster

    May 22, 2007
    Greeneville, Tn
    What do your rooster legs look like? I would use a clean yellow leg rooster and the clearest yellow hens. It should clean up rather quick if you have a clean rooster.
  3. Quote:Tam

    My Blue roo has yellow with just a light splash of slate. My BRs, my black, my blue, my partridge girls are ALL more dusky/slate colored over yellow. Turn their feet over and they are YELLOW as can be....

    Maybe I need to get some show quality birds (BRs) and breed to my blue roo. I would get blue and black from that breeding and perhaps better leg color(??)
  4. chickenlover54

    chickenlover54 Henely Hatchery

    May 20, 2009
    Northern Illinois
    I would suggest buying some SQ hatching BR eggs and keeping the ones with yellow legs to introduce that into your flock
  5. halo

    halo Got The Blues

    Nov 22, 2007
    My Coop
    From what I understand in the SOP, as long as the underlying color on the legs is yellow, its acceptable. You dont want it white. It says under Blue Plymouth Rocks, Disqualifications. Red, yellow, or positive white in plumage; shanks other than yellow or dusky yellow.

    From what Ive dealt with, it also seems to be a bit of a sex linked trait, in that my males, whether blue, splash or black, have yellower legs than any of the girls, except splash.
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2009
  6. cedar post

    cedar post Songster

    Feb 19, 2009
    yard full of rocks, I've been breeding blues in wyandottes. It's hard to get completely yellow on blues and blacks of both sexes. Show people have either a male line or female line with yellow legs. If rocks are like wyndottes? Mike
  7. ChooksChick

    ChooksChick BeakHouse's Mad Chicken Scientist

    Aug 17, 2008
    Larry, KS
    My Coop
    You also have to remember that the color of yellow will fade as the birds move toward and through a molt, and will become more yellow immediately after a molt- I have one girl all done and she's fluorescent, while the others are still molting and have much paler legs so the bit of slate on the front is far more apparent.
  8. Sonoran Silkies

    Sonoran Silkies Flock Mistress

    Jan 4, 2009
    Tempe, Arizona
    Yellow skin is recessive, so it must be inherited from both parents. It is not a sex-linked trait. There are some dietary things that can increase the amount of yellow; yellow corn and milo are among these.
  9. halo

    halo Got The Blues

    Nov 22, 2007
    My Coop
    I guess I didnt make myself clear on the sex linked yellow legs. What I tried to convey is that, yes, they all have yellow skin and yellow legs to a degree, but it seems, in my herd anyway, that the roosters have much more yellow on their legs, with less "dusky", and the girls have much more "dusky", with sometimes the only evident yellow on the bottom of their feet. But I would assume they are all yellow skinned. I dont know if it follows color or not, but I do know when I cross my splash, whos legs are all yellow, with my barred hens, whos legs are also all yellow, the blue baby girls have dusky yellow legs, not solid yellow like their parents.
  10. tadkerson

    tadkerson Songster

    Jul 19, 2008
    Birds that are black because of the extended black gene will add black pigment to their skin and the layer of tissue under their skin. This is why birds that are black usually have black shanks and feet. Jersey black giants have yellow skin and are extend black but have black shanks and feet. You should not see any yellow in the shanks of a jersey giant- you check the center of the bottom of the foot which should be yellow to check for skin color.

    The wheaten gene helps remove some black pigment from the shanks and feet. The barring gene is very good at removing black pigment from the shanks and feet of chickens. One barring gene does a good job and two barring genes will usually remove all of the black pigment from the shanks and feet. This is why females that are black and barred can have dusky yellow shanks and feet while males who have two barring genes should have clean yellow shanks and feet. Even if the bird is extended black the barring gene removes the black pigment.

    If you want clean yellow legs it is better to build a black bird on the birchen gene and not the extended black gene. Some birds that are black and have yellow legs are not extended black but are brown at the E locus. The brown gene does not add black pigment to the shanks and feet.

    The recessive yellow skin gene (w) takes a dietary yellow pigment (xanthophyll) and places the pigment into the skin of the bird. Chicks, as they develop, take the yellow from the yolk and place the yellow pigment into their skin and shanks. Chicks that hatch form eggs that have large amounts of the yellow pigment in the yolk will have darker yellow skin and legs at hatch. Chicks that hatch from eggs with very little yellow pigment in the yolk must get the yellow pigment from the food they eat to make their shanks and feet yellow.

    Hens with yellow legs over time place the yellow pigment found in their shanks and feet into the eggs they lay. Birds can not make the pigment xanthophyll (yellow) and must ingest the pigment in the foods they eat. Green and yellow plants and plant parts ( corn, squash, grass etc.) are packed with this yellow pigment. Most of the pigment goes into the eggs they produce so the birds legs turn almost white if your birds are laying well.

    When a hen gets older ( stops laying so many eggs) or goes broody and takes care of her chicks the yellow in the shanks and feet will return.

    There is a component of shank and foot color that is sex linked and incompletely dominant. This is called dermal melanin or dermal melanin inhibitor. The dermal melanin gene adds black pigment to the dermis or layer of tissue under the skin in the shanks and feet. The dermal melanin inhibitor gene prevents the addition of black pigment to the dermis.

    black dermal pigment + yellow skin = green shanks and feet

    black dermal pigment + white skin = blue shanks and feet


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