Breeding Sex-Link EE Chicks Using Shank Color?

Discussion in 'Exhibition, Genetics, & Breeding to the SOP' started by wolfinportland, Feb 4, 2017.

  1. wolfinportland

    wolfinportland New Egg

    Feb 4, 2017
    Hello all:

    So, I'm a relatively new chicken enthusiast--one year ago today I bought my first baby chick--and I won't lie ... I'm totally hooked. Raising and keeping a flock of chickens is the best thing I've ever done. In any event, now that I'm halfway through my third hatch from my own flock, and am learning about genetics a bit, I'm wondering if I may have stumbled upon a fun little sex link breeding formula for Easter Egger chicks; I'm not sure I've seen this suggested elsewhere, so I apologize if this is a repeat, but like I said--I'm new here. Ha.

    Some more info below.

    Here's the papa, a handsome Blue Wheaten Ameraucana cockerel (okay, so he's probably just an EE, but he's **** close to the SOP, if not on it), age 11 mos.; note that the photo's a bit washed out, but the shanks are slate/blue:

    (I love the lacing on his blue breast)

    Here's the rest of my flock at the moment, and from them I've only successfully hatched 8 eggs. 4 came from RIR's, 2 from a Gold Sex Link, 1 from a Gold Laced Wyandotte, and 1 from a Plymouth Barred Rock (all of whom, coincidentally, have nice yellow shanks):


    Of those 8 F1's, there are 3 from my first hatch (a horrible experience involving way cold incubator temperatures and an abundance of failure) including a crazy-fast developing Mahogany/White EE cockerel (whom I've named Captain Greentoe after the weird green spot on one toe on his left foot), a Blue EE pullet with some lacing, and a solid white EE pullet. Then there are the other 5 chicks, who are about five weeks behind the first 3, from my second hatch (a much better experience and hatch rate), including what appear to be 3 Mahogany/White EE cockerels and 2 Gold/Mahogany/Black EE pullets (they're basically twins).

    I've been patiently waiting for the clear signs of who's going to be what as far as sex is concerned, and as of today I can say I'm fairly certain that the above is an accurate distribution of male/female. If so, then what I've also noticed is that all of the pullets have green shanks and all of the cockerels have yellow shanks. I initially thought that this might just be a coincidence, but then I was looking into the genetics of shank color, and I think in actuality I'm seeing a sex linked trait play out in the birds' phenotypes. In other words, this is what I think I'm seeing, even if we're assuming a heterozygous combination wherever possible because I don't know for certain the genotypes of my breeding line:

    Blue shank male: (W, w - id, id)


    Yellow shank female: (w, w - ID) =

    Yellow shank male: (w, w - ID, id) OR White shank male: (W, w - ID, id)


    Green shank female: (w, w - id)

    If that's the case, then I indeed have the ability to identify the sex of these EE chicks on day one after hatching. The difference in the shank color is stark, such that even a relative novice like myself can easily pick up on the difference between pullet and cockerel. And given the wide variety of yellow-shanked breeds that are also heavy egg producers, I could breed some really pretty, good-producing, sex-linked EE pullets with this strategy. Do I have that correct?

    Second, if so, why aren't hatcheries taking this approach over the traditional Gold/Red/Black sex-link routes? With the above formula, you seem to at least give the consumer a chicken with a great variety of plumage that also produce blue-green eggs ... right?

    Thanks for reading and answering! I'm excited to finally join in with a forum, rather than just reading them all! :)
  2. nicalandia

    nicalandia Overrun With Chickens

    Jul 16, 2009
    You are correct, what you have made is a sex linked crossed, the male carries sex linked recessive id+/id+ and the females carry sex linked dominant dermal inhibitor Id/- when you cross them together the F1 females will inherit their id+/- only from the sire side and the males will inherit from both parents but since Id is dominant to id+ their shanks remain clear, but this form of sex link alone without melanin boosters like Fribromelanotic are not used as reference because different e allele will express shank melanin differently at day old, for example wheaten based Ameraucana chicks don’t show dermal pigment until they are much older to be practical for sex linking day old hatching chicks(your rooster while beautiful is a EE).
    Wheaten Ameraucana chick.
    Buff Ameraucana Chicks Ameraucana.jpg

    now if your Male has blue shanks and is fibromelanistic(black skin) you can use the sex link cross and will know 100% the sex of the chicks because the pullets will have Slate/Green shanks and Slate/Green skin,beak and the cockerels will have clear skin and clear shanks,beaks
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2017
  3. wolfinportland

    wolfinportland New Egg

    Feb 4, 2017
    THAT is so cool. Thanks so much for your insight! I'm super excited to see how this next hatch plays out in the shank color department. Although I suppose it's not as useful for my black sex link pullet crosses .... Anyway, a couple of quick follow-ups:

    (1) Based on what I've read elsewhere, I think I understand what you're saying about the the different e alleles expressing shank melanin differently at a day old, but at least in all 8 of the chicks I've hatched so far, the leg color right out of the shell was starkly different. The yellow shanks came out looking light orange and the green shanks came out looking very dark, almost a deep brown color. Does this say something more about the particular type of 'id' my rooster is carrying, or is it something else altogether that's causing the color differentiation to be so noticeable? For example, as I've mentioned, the first cockerel F1 I hatched has a green spot on a yellow shank. This could mean he's inherited an "id ^ a" from the rooster that's playing in there somehow, since that green spot was there from day one and is still there. Or maybe the chicks have "id ^ M" from my rooster, which would give me a leg up (pun intended) on the sexing of day-old chicks because it causes dermal melanin to show up in day old chicks, correct? Here's the reference I'm working from:

    (2) I completely agree my sire is almost certainly an EE ... but just so I have the same knowledge base to work from going forward, what tipped you off from the photo? Meaning, aside from the probabilities involved due to Ameraucanas being far less common than EE's, especially from hatcheries, is there something in my rooster's look that isn't quite in line with the SOP?

    Thanks again! I'll be sure to follow up with the results of that third hatch that's underway, and I'll provide some day-old photos as well so you can see what I'm talking about re: the color difference.

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