Dark egg question.

Discussion in 'General breed discussions & FAQ' started by houndit, Jan 20, 2010.

  1. houndit

    houndit There is no H or F in Orpington!

    Jul 13, 2008
    Braymer Missouri
    I have a neighbor with a few Welsummers. He gave me some eggs this past spring and I incubated them. They were really nice looking eggs! bargain said they were nice also. However, fertility was terrible! I really think it was his rooster. Please forgive my ignorance here. I understand that the Rooster carries the dark egg gene. They say to keep rooster out of the darkest eggs. If I were to put a different rooster on the same hens it would not change the color of the hens eggs obviously. But, since he is supposed to be contributing a dark egg gene will the daughters lay a lighter egg if he is not as good? I would want to keep a replacement rooster out of the eggs we hatched because the egg color is so nice. So if I put this young rooster back to the original hens, would the egg color be mostly retained?
    Thank you for any advice you can offer.
  2. TimG

    TimG Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 23, 2008
    I think you are dealing with a combination of old wives' tale and science. There are (at least) 11 genes that go into determining how dark an egg will be produced (and darkness can vary for individual birds during laying cycle). "Dark" when it comes to egg laying is not "on" or "off" but covers a wide spectrum based upon multiple genetic factors.

    I do not know whether any of the genes that go into determining how dark an egg is are sex-linked.

    Selecting roosters that are hatched from dark eggs is useful because you know that approximately half of the genetics will come from the mother who you know to be laying dark eggs. But, as you say, the color of a hen's eggs is not dependent upon the rooster she mates with, so selecting roosters that hatched from dark eggs really only gets you half-way.
  3. tadkerson

    tadkerson Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 19, 2008
    Quote:Both parents contribute to the egg color produced by female offspring. For example if you were to cross a male leghorn (white egg color genes) with a dark egg laying hen, the female offspring would lay a tinted or light brown egg.

    In order to get dark colored egg layers, both the male and female must contribute genes for the dark egg color. The dark egg color phenotype is also affected by the environment, size of the egg, the hens health and age of the hen. What I can gather from discussing the topic with marans breeders and research on brown egg color is that:as a general rule

    1. as the hen gets older the egg color gets lighter.

    2. during stress, unhealthy, or hot conditions the egg color gets lighter.

    3. after a molt the egg color gets darker.

    4. research shows that smaller eggs are darker than larger eggs (from the same hen).

    5. breeding a male from a dark egg to females that lay a dark egg may or may not produce dark egg laying females.

    You are correct in that you want to keep the males that hatch from the darkest eggs because this indicates that

    1. the female (that laid the egg) has the genetic makeup for dark egg color and

    2.hopefully the male inside the egg will also have the genetic makeup for dark egg color.

    If you use a male that came from a light colored egg to cross with the dark egg females, I believe the egg color of the female offspring will be lighter.

    With egg color, I believe it would be best to borrow a dark egg rooster from someone or buy a dark egg rooster from some one. Egg color is easily lost.

  4. McSpin

    McSpin Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 1, 2007
    South Western NY
    Poor fertility could come from a line that is too inbred, a rooster that isn't actively pursuing the hens or too many hens. In fact many people mistake an egg with no development for infertility when it was in fact a fertile egg that died. It could have been an environmental factor (too cold, too hot, too dirty) or even an incubator problem where they die before any development.
  5. houndit

    houndit There is no H or F in Orpington!

    Jul 13, 2008
    Braymer Missouri
    O.K. thanks. I was told that the dark egg gene was contributed from the rooster only. I appreciate your help!
  6. bargain

    bargain Love God, Hubby & farm Premium Member

    Apr 13, 2008
    Bowdon, GA
    Actually none of the eggs showed any development on these when all my others were hatching well, including some other shipped eggs. They were extremely well wrapped and shipped and suffered no external appearing damage. All eggs arrived intact. Of course, I do not know if they were xrayed, because there is no sticker that is put on the boxes saying xrayed... I'd definitely try some local incubations and see how that does.

    I will say Houndit that the color was lovely on these, so I hope it gets worked out for your neighbor to be getting these eggs fertile.

    Have a blessed day.

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