Diagrams,poultry parts,charts, and lots of reading Updated Nov. 13th


Jan 8, 2022
I have seen some of the newbies asking questions about different parts of the chicken so here are some diagrams I have found on the net. on the chicken anatomy. I hope that it helps some of the newbies out....

This comb consists of a single leader from base of beak to a cup-shaped crown set firmly on the center of the skull and completely surmounted by a circle of regular points. The cavity within the circle of points should be deep, the texture of the comb should be fine. Also referred to as a cup comb.
A comb somewhat resembling a tea cup, with the edges spiked also called a Buttercup comb.
The Pea comb is a medium length, low comb, the top of which is marked with three low lengthwise ridges, the center one is slightly higher that the outer ones. The outer ones are either undulated or marked with small rounded serrations. This style comb has many variations that are still referred to as a pea comb.
A comb somewhat resembling a raspberry cut through its axis (lengthwise) and covered with small protuberances.
A broad comb, nearly flat on top, covered with regular points, and finished with a spike or leader. It varies in length, width, and carriage according to breed.
This comb is a moderately thin, fleshy formation of smooth soft surface texture, firmly attached from the beak along the top of the skull with a strong base. The top portion shows five or six rather deep serrations or distinct points, the middle points being higher than the anterior or posterior, forming a semi-oval when viewed from the side. The comb is always erect and much larger and thicker in males than in females.
A low comb that is set well-forward. The shape and surface resemble the outer part of half a strawberry, with the large end nearest the beak of the chicken.
This comb is medium sized, and fleshy. The main characteristics are the three ridges of bumpy projections the run down the length of the comb like ridges. Usually found in Oriental breeds of fowl like the Asil, and the Shamo.
This comb is defined by the two horn like sections that are joined at their base as in Houdans, Polish, Crevecoeur, LaFleche and Sultans
A comb that resembles one half of a walnut meat in appearance.
Above information from Ultimatefowl Wiki

Some Pictures from other sores...




Barred Rock Feathering

Dominique Feathering






16 hours - First sign of resemblance to a chick embryo
18 hours - Appearance of alimentary tract
20 hours - Appearance of vertebral column
21 hours - Beginning of formation of nervous system
22 hours - Beginning of formation of head
23 hours - Appearance of blood islands - vitelline circulation
24 hours - Beginning of formation of eye

23 hours - Beginning of formation of heart
35 hours - Beginning of formation of ear
42 hours - Heart begins to beat

50 hours - Beginning of formation of amnion
60 hours - Beginning of formation of nose
62 hours - Beginning of formation of legs
64 hours - Beginning of formation of wings
70 hours - Beginning of formation of allantois

Beginning of formation of tongue

Beginning of formation of reproductive organs and differentiation of sex

Beginning of formation of beak and eggtooth

Beginning of formation of feathers

Beginning of hardening of beak

Appearance of scales and claws

Embryo turns its head toward the blunt end of egg

Scales, claws, and beak becoming firm and horny

Beak turns toward air cell

Yolk sac begins to enter body cavity

Yolk sac completely drawn into body cavity; embryo occupies practically all the space within the egg except the air cell

Hatching of chick





Nasal cavity of a Mallard (scale bar = 1 cm). nar = naris, ros co = rostral concha, mid co = middle concha,
caud co = caudal concha, ch - choana (opening between nasal cavity and naspharynx), a o sin ost - ostium (openng into sinus cavity),
vest = nasal vestibule (anterior portion of nasal cavity), vom = vomer, Ram med nas = branch of ophthalmic nerve,
n l du ost = opening into lacrimal duct (Figure from Witmer 1995). Turbinate bones (like those shown in the diagrams below) are
found in the caudal (olfactory) concha.


Line Breeding Chart



Humidity on this chart is for wet-bulb setting

Below are the three (3) Blues that seem to confuse a lot of people..

Self Blue/ Lavender (Not My Bird)


Blue/ Andalusian Blue (Not My Bird)

No lacing but still a Blue/ Andalusian Blue (Not My Bird)

Silver Blue (Not My Bird)

Black Breasted Red Family - Old English Game bantams as Bred and Shown in the United States


Crow-Wing Family - Old English Game bantams as Bred and Shown in the United States


Wheaten Family - Old English Game bantams as Bred and Shown in the United States


Black Jersey Giants - should have Willow/Black legs and Yellow on the bottom of there feet.
Black Australorp - should have Black/Slate legs and Pink-ish color on the bottom of there feet.
Black Orpingtons - should have Black/Slate legs and White color on the bottom of there feet.

Buff Orpingtons have White legs and White on the bottom of there feet.
Buff Plymouth Rocks have Yellow legs and Yellow on the bottom of there feet.

Here are some common poultry husbandry terms..

A - C

Addled: an egg where the contents are decomposing.

Air cell: the air space usually found at the large or blunt end of an egg.

Albumen: the white of an egg.

Amino acids: the simpler building units of protein.

Anticoccidial: a anticoccidial drug used to treat or prevent coccidiosis

Artificial insemenation: the introduction of semen into the female oviduct by methods other than by natural mating.

Aviary system: a system of housing based on the litter system where a number of mezzanine floors are installed to increase the available floor space and, in so doing, provide the space for more birds in the poultry house.

Beak trimming: The removal of part of the beak of poultry by specially designed equipment to prevent cannibalism and its associated vices.

Blastoderm: the fertilised nucleus of the egg from which the chicken develops.

Blastodisc: The unfertilised nucleus of an egg. No chicken can develop from a blastodisc.

Breed: a group of birds that reproduce their own likeness in their offspring. A variety is a group within a breed that are distinguished by a difference of a single characteristic eg. feather colour or comb type.

Broiler: a young bird of either sex bred and grown specifically for highly efficient meat production. Broilers are usually killed at 5 to 7 weeks of age (alternative term - meat chicken).

Brooder: the equipment used to provide supplementary warmth during the early stages of the chickens life. The energy used may come from electricity, gas, oil or from other sources.

Brooding: the period of the first weeks of a chickens life when it requires a very high standard of care including the provision of special diets and supplementary warmth.

Broody: the instinct controlled by maternal hormones that causes the female to want to set on eggs for hatching and to care for the chickens that hatch.

Caeca: the two blind gut of the digestive tract attached to the distal end of the small intestine.

Cages: a system of housing where the birds are confined to a wire floor singly or in multiples. With this system the stock do not come into contact with their own or other birds faeces - an important disease control measure.

Candle: to assess some internal characteristics of the egg by viewing it in a darkened room with a bright light behind the egg.

Cannibalism: the practice by some birds of attacking and eating other members of the same flock.

Chalazae: a type of albumen that surrounds the yolk of the egg and extends as creamy white, twisted, ropelike structures into each end to anchor the yolk in the centre of the egg.

Chick: the term used to describe chickens from day old to the end of brooding.

Chick-type drinker: a drinker that is more suitable for young chickens to access water.

Chick-type feeder: a feeder that is more suitable for young chickens to access food.

Clear eggs: infertile eggs (containing no embryos) usually removed from the incubator during incubation.

Cloaca: the common external opening for the digestive, urinary and reproductive tracts of the fowl.

Coccidiostat: a drug usually added to the food and used to prevent the disease coccidiosis.

Cock: a male that has finished one seasons as a breeder. Usually refers to older birds.

Cockerel: a young male from day old to the end of its first year of breeding. Often used to refer to young males up to 6 months of age.

Controlled environment housing: an intensive housing system where the operator can control temperature, air quality and light.

Crop: an organ, a part of the esophagus, located at the base of the neck and used as a storage place for food after eating but before digestion.

Crossbred: a bird with parents of two or more different genotypes (or breeds or varieties).

Crude protein: the nitrogen sources in food. It is not true protein as nitrogen is found in dietary compounds other than protein.

Cull: the identification and removal of non-productive birds from the flock.

Cuticle: the outer membrane or bloom on the eggs shell.

D - F

Dead-in-shell: chicks that fail to hatch from the egg.

Deep litter: the system of housing where a suitable material called litter is provided on the poultry house floor for the birds to live on.

Disease: any condition that affects the proper functioning of the birds system(s), organ(s) or tissue(s).

Dry bulb thermometer: a thermometer with a dry, uncovered bulb used to measure temperature.

Egg bound: an afflicted hen is one that is unable to complete the egg formation and laying process and retains the partially or fully formed egg in the oviduct.

Embryo: the young of an animal before birth - the developing chicken in the egg.

Free range housing: a system of housing where the birds have a shelter house and access to an outside area during the hours of daylight.

Feed hopper: a semi-automatic feeding system which has the capacity to hold food in addition to that in the feeding trough associated with the feeder.

Fertile egg: those eggs in which fertilisation of the blastodisc has occurred to create the blastoderm. The joining of the female ovum and the male sperm to create the embryo.

Flighty: excitable flock inclined to fly at the slightest provocation.

Flock: a number of birds of the same origin (genotype), age and managed in the same way.

Food conversion ratio: the relationship between food production and production (eggs or growth). It is usually expressed as a ratio.

Floor eggs: eggs laid on the floor of the shed and not in designated nest sites/ boxes.

Fowl: the term used to describe all members of Gallus domesticus (domestic fowl) irrespective of age, sex or breed.

G - I

Germinal disc: the fertilisation site on the egg yolk. Alternative names include blastodisc and blastoderm.

Germocidal solution: a solution of chemicals that will kill microbes.

Gizzard: the muscular stomach of the fowl where the food is ground and mixed with the digestive compounds produced by the proventriculus (glandular stomach).

Growers: the term used to describe all stock between the end of brooding and till they reach sexual maturity.

Hatchability: the number of saleable chickens that hatch from all eggs incubated - usually expressed as a percentage.

Hatch of Fertile (HOF): the number of saleable chickens that hatch from all eggs classified as fertile.

Hen: a female after the first moult. It is often used to describe females after they have started to lay.

Hen day average: progressive egg production record calculated on a survivor basis and expressed as a percentage:

Hen housed average: progressive egg production record calculated on the basis of the number of birds placed in the laying house at point of lay:

Hock: the joint of the leg between the lower thigh and the shank. It is most commonly the region where the feathered portion of the leg ends and the scaly shank of the lower leg starts.

Hover: a canopy used on brooders to direct the heat downwards to the chickens.

Incubation: the process by which fertile eggs are subjected to conditions suitable for the initiation and sustaining of embryonic development and the hatching of strong, healthy chickens.

Incubator: the machine used to incubate fertile eggs.

Insoluble grit: hard, insoluble material such as granite, flint or bluestone chips consumed by the birds to aid in the grinding of the food in the gizzard.

Intensive system: any system of housing poultry where the birds are indoors all of the time and do not have access to the outside. It usually entails higher stocking densities.

J - L

Keel: the breastbone or sternum of the fowl. This bone has a large surface area to provide for the attachment of the large muscles of flight (the breast muscles).

Layer: a female in lay. Usually used to refer to females kept solely for egg production for human consumption.

Layer cycle: the period from the onset of lay until the natural moult causes a cessation of production. Usually used to describe the period during which an economic level of production is being maintained.

Lighting (artificial): the use of controlled artificial light to regulate the day length under which the stock are kept.

Livability: the expression used to describe the number of survivors in a flock:

Lux: a unit of illumination equal to one lumen per square metre. Used to measure the brightness or intensity of light.

M - O

Meat chicken: see broiler.

Metabolisable energy (ME): the energy in a food ingredient or diet available for metabolism (use by the animal for normal body functions and activity).

Metabolism: the sum of the chemical changes in living cells which provide energy for the vital activities and processes of the body.

Methionine: one of the essential amino acids.

Micro-ingredient: an essential ingredient in the diet that is required by the bird in very small quantities.

Moult: the process whereby the bird sheds its feathers and ceases egg production. It is usually initiated by hormonal influences but is often triggered by stress.

P - R

Peck(ing) order: the social organisation of a flock ranging in a ladder formation from the most dominate to the most subordinate member of the flock.

Pendulous crop: an enlarged crop usually due to impaction and which hangs downwards in an abnormal way.

Perchery system: a system of housing consisting of a litter floor plus a number of perches installed to increase the number of birds that the house will hold. Some of the perches carry feeders and drinkers.

Point of lay: females just prior to starting to lay.

Preen gland (uropygeal gland): a gland located at the base of the tail which produces a special oil secretion for the conditioning or preening of the feathers.

Primaries: the ten long, stiff flight feathers at the outer extremity of the trailing edge of the wing. They are separated from the inner group or secondaries by the axial feather.

Production efficiency: the relationship between the various major production factors which, depending on the class of stock, will include food consumption, live weight gain, egg production and mortality.

Proventriculus: the glandular stomach of birds located in front of the gizzard.

Pullet: a female in her first laying season. Often used to refer to young females post brooding to point of lay.

Purebred: a group of birds having the same origin, and able to reproduce their own likeness in their offspring. Purebred birds have the same genotype, but all birds with the same genotype are not necessarily purebreds.

Relative humidity: the percentage of moisture saturation in the air. There is a direct relationship between temperature and relative humidity - as the temperature increases, the relative humidity decreases and as temperature decreases, the relative humidity increases.

Roost: the perch on which fowls rest or sleep.

Rooster: male bird.

S - U

Sanitise: that part of the cleaning procedure aimed at killing as many microbes as possible.

Secondaries: see primaries.

Semi-intensive: a system of housing where the birds have access to a shelter house and an outside run enclosed by a fence to keep the birds in and predators out.

Sexing: the act of dividing the flock into its component males and females.

Skillion roof: a roof with a single pitch or slope.

Slatted floor system: a system of housing similar to the litter system except that wooden slats approximately 2 cm wide with a similar gap between are used instead of litter. The faeces pass through the gaps and out of reach of the birds housed therein.

Slave hopper: the short term food holding hopper integral to the food delivery system of a mechanical feeding system and additional to the main food storage silo.

Soluble grit: various sources of calcium in the diet - usually a granulated or grit form of limestone.

Spent hen: a layer that has reached the end of her economic egg laying life.

Started stock: layer replacements post brooding to point of lay.

Stubbing: removal of the short stub or pin feathers after plucking.

Thermostat: a device sensitive to temperature and usually used to control the operation of temperature modifying equipment.

V - Z

Vent: the common external opening from the cloaca for the digestive system, urinary system and reproductive system.

Vitamin/mineral premix: a concentrated source of various vitamins and/or minerals mixed together so as to make the adding of them to the diet much easier (beware of antagonistic materials).

Wet bulb thermometer: a thermometer with a wick covering the bulb. The wick keeps the bulb wet by drawing water from a reservoir. Used in conjunction with a dry bulb thermometer, a reference to appropriate tables comparing wet and dry bulb readings will indicate the relative humidity.

Poultry Plumage Terms and Definitions.


Alternate stripes of light and dark across a feather, most distinctly seen in Barred Plymouth Rock
A reddish-brown color.
The fading of color from the beak, shanks, and vent of a yellow-skinned laying hen.
Yellowish foul coloring on plumage, usually on the back and the wing.
Cuckoo barring--
Irregular barring where the two colors are somewhat indistinct, and run into each other, as in the North Holland Blue , Cuckoo Leghorn and Cuckoo Marans.
Double laced--
Two lacings of black, as seen on the Cornish female`s feather. First there is the outer black lacing around the edge of the feather, plus the inner, or second lacing.
Yellow pigment shaded with black.
To have coloring in both the wing bow and wing bay while the wing bar is black or white like seen in Black breasted reds and pyles. Unlike a crow-wing which only possesses coloring in the wing bow.
Ground color--
Main color of body plumage on which markings are applied.
Gypsy color--
A dark purple, or black colored skin that predominantly shows up on the face, comb, and wattles, but can be the color of the whole body as well like in Silkies.
Hard feathered--
A term used in the description of the plumage of gamefowl. Hardness is based on how narrow, and short the feathers are, and the toughness of the shaft. It is also normal for the barbs to be closely knitted, and very little fluff.
A stripe or edging all around a feather, differing in color from that of the ground color; single in such breeds as Wyandottes, and Sebright bantams, and double in Cornish Game and other females. In the last case the inner lacing not as broad as the outer. (see also double laced)
A description of the way light interacts with a surface.
Stippled with a lighter shade, as though dusted with meal, a defect in buff colored fowls.
Open barring--
Where the bars on a feather are wide apart.
Open lacing--
Narrow outer lacing, which gives the feather a larger open center of ground color.
Parti colored--
To have different colors in different areas or patches.
The color of a chicken's beak, shanks and vent
The tips of newly emerging feathers.
Small markings or stripes on a feather, straight across in Hamburgh females (and often known as bands) and concentric in form, following the outline of feather as in Brahmas (Dark) Cochins (partridge) Dorkings (silver grey} and Wyandotte (Partridge and Silver Pencilled) females and fine stippled markings of Old English Game and Brown Leghorns.
A plumage is said to be peppered when it is dotted with spots.
The feathers making up the outer covering of fowls.
The feathers of the wings generally called the flight feathers.
Primary coverts--
The feathers that cover the primaries on the wing.
The reddish-brown shadings on the outside of the wings in Black breasted reds, and brown leghorns. In England it is called foxy.
The quill feathers of the wings which are visible when the wing is closed.
Self color--
A uniform color, unmixed with any other color.
Sexed feathers--
Hackle, Saddle and Tail feathers whose ends are pointed in males and rounded in females. (except in breeds in which the males are "hen feathered" such as Sebrights).
The stem or quill part of the feather.
The term describing a dark-colored feather having a light shaft.
The long curved feathers of a males tail usually applied to the top pair only (the others often been called the lesser sickles) but sometimes used for the tail coverts.
Tail coverts--
The feathers that cover the main tail feathers of the rooster.
A fowl is ticked when it has a spots of a color different from the rest of the plumage .
End of feathers tipped with a different colored marking.
Top color--
The color of the plumage on the back.
Of three colors. The term refers chiefly to buff and red fowls, and generally applied only to males when their hackles ans tails are dark compared with the general plumage, and the wing bows are darker; a fault.
Twisted feather--
A deformed feather that has the shaft, or web twisted.
Under color--
Color seen when the feathers are lifted on a bird, the color of the fluff of the feathers.
Wing bar--
Any line of dark color across the middle of the wing, caused by the color or marking of the feathers known as the lower wing coverts.
Wing bay--
The triangular part of the folded wing between the wing bar, and the point.
Wing bow--
The upper, or shoulder part of the wing.
Wing butt--
The end of the primaries, the corners or ends of the wing. The upper ends are more properly called the shoulder butts and are thus termed by game fanciers. The lower, are often called the wing butts.
Wing coverts--
The feathers covering the roots of the secondary quills.
Wing clipping--
Procedure used to prevent flight in which the Primary Flight Feathers are cut to 25 or 50% of their length.

Here is some information that I pasted in here for your reading enjoyment. I by no means wrought this, I merely just posted it..

BREEDERS v. WINNERS. The A.B.C. of Breeding Poultry for Exhibition, Egg-Production and Table Purposes

Once we have in our possession first class specimens we must
know how to look after them. To allow exhibition males to run
with the hens during the whole year would naturally prove weakening.
We must nurse the stamina of both sexes by separating male
from females immediately the breeding season is over. Cockerel
boxes are handy at this time and the surplus males can be placed
therein when the breeding pens are " broken up." Then again
there is that bug-bear " overshowing." The big man can afford to
overshow his birds, at least so it would appear, for he has equally
good birds at home. Not so with the small man or breeder who
has not established his strain. In many cases I could quote, this
overshowing would appear to be merely for the purpose of cup-hunting
or prize-money getting and is to be deprecated. It is
naturally a great mistake to overshow any specimens, especially if
required for breeding purposes, and the good " sportsman " will be
content to show his breeders but a few times in the year. If the
owner is keen on showing, he will reserve a few of his tip-top birds
for exhibiting only and not trouble to disorganize his breeding
pens by showing any of the inmates during the breeding operations.
This is as it should be.
A few outings prior to the breeding season will not do harm
It is usually thought by the tyro that Fanciers continually exhibit
their best birds. This is far from actual facts. The sporting fancier usually has as good birds at home as those he is exhibiting,
and this should be followed by those who would be successful in
their breeding operations. Reserve a few " cracks " for exhibiting
in order to keep before the public's eye.

WHAT IS SINGLE MATING? [/b]The A.B.C. of Breeding Poultry for Exhibition, Egg-Production and Table Purposes

In certain breeds the standard decrees that the characteristics
of the male and female should be different, which necessitates
double-mating, explained below. Where the standard for the
two sexes is practically the same, then single mating is sufficient.
By single mating I mean the breeding of both sexes as exhibition
specimens from one mating or single pen of birds.

WHAT IS DOUBLE MATING? The A.B.C. of Breeding Poultry for Exhibition, Egg-Production and Table Purposes

Double-mating means the mating of two pens, one to produce
exhibition cockerels and the other exhibition pullets. This process
of breeding has done much to spoil many good old breeds, for
few little men have accommodation sufficient to keep two pens.
Many poultry fanciers give this double-mating question some
hard knocks, but we have only the Club Standards to blame. When
a new breed comes into being, the first desire of the faddists is to
draw up a standard that is hard to breed to. They contend that
it is better to have a breed that is difficult to obtain high-class
specimens of, than where we can easily breed winners. As things
are at present, double-mating is necessary in many breeds, and
I leave it at that.
In the case of laced varieties, such as the beautiful Gold and
Silver Laced Wyandottes, we have perforce to adopt the double mating
principles. If we mated the Palace winning Cock to the
Palace winning Pullet we should breed birds that were of very
inferior quality. By fitting up a cockerel-breeding pen and a pullet breeding
pen our chances are excellent. In the cockerel-breeding
pen of any variety the male will be a tip-top show specimen and
his mates females that are not show birds, but merely breeders
likely to throw high-class cockerels when mated to the exhibition
male. The pullets from this mating will, of course, be " duds
and not fit for show purposes. The females in the pullet-breeding
pen will all be first-class exhibition birds and the male not a show
bird, but a breeder most likely to breed tip-top exhibition pullets.
The cockerels from this mating will be " duds " and unfit for the
show bench. The whole modus operandi can be thinned down to
this :The cockerel-breeding male must possess all the necessary
characteristics to breed exhibition cockerels, whilst the pullet breeding
male must boast of those characteristics that will go to
breed exhibition pullets. The system is not so complicated as it
would appear at first sight and is interesting to follow out, but there
must, of course, be many " wasters " in the progenywhether
male or female respectively. In many cases fanciers are satisfied
with breeding one sex only and winning honors with same. They
specialize in pullets or cockerels, keeping the pullet-breeders or
cockerel-breeders only as the case may be. This naturally does
not entail so much work as would be necessary if the two sorts
were bred.

WHAT IS IN-BREEDING. The A.B.C. of Breeding Poultry for Exhibition, Egg-Production and Table Purposes

Novices are apt to be misled by the term " in-breed." To
serve as an illustration I will deal with " in-breeding " and then
" Line-breeding." In-breeding generally speaking is the mating of
brother and sister and is not to be recommended. Many fanciers
do in-breed I know, but whilst this mating of brother and sister is
likely to breed progeny possessing the qualities of each other,
disease can easily follow in its train. This is amply proved if we
mate a laying hen to her brother, for the result will more often
than not be fewer eggs from the progeny. If we continue the inbreeding
the next generation would be puny things and very inferior
layers. The same applies to in-breeding in exhibition birds ; if it is
practiced it must not be overdone, but on the other hand kept well
in check. To in-breed once in a way may be the means of fixing
a certain quality that the breeder could not obtain from any other
mating. All the other excellent points were in his birds with the
exception of the one for which he in-bred. This as I have said
may be all right within reason, but should not be encouraged too
much. In such cases make sure that the birds being mated up
are vigorous and healthy in every organ and limb ; this will assist

THREE WAYS OF IN-BREEDING. The A.B.C. of Breeding Poultry for Exhibition, Egg-Production and Table Purposes

" In-breeding," says Mr. Harry R. Lewis" commonly means
the mating of individuals related for one generation. In-and-in
breeding indicates those showing a longer period and closer degree
of relationship. Three ways of in-breeding are:--

In-breeding chart showing distribution of inherited 'characters. The black
denotes the blood lines of the male and the white those of the female. The
solid black lines show that a male has been chosen from the group from
which they start and the dotted lines a female
X-Male. O-Female.

1. Breeding sire and daughter which produces ¼
blood like the mother.
2. Breeding son and mother which produces progeny
with ¾ blood of the mother.
3. Breeding brother and sister which gives progeny with
blood lines from both sire and dam in equal proportions.
The latter (No. 3) is the mating referred to above as
undesirable. It is often adopted by breeders of both
Fancy stock and heavy egg-producers, but it must
not be over done. He must be sure of the vigour of
the parent stock, else this fault will be intensified in
the progeny.

ESTABLISHING A STRAIN. The A.B.C. of Breeding Poultry for Exhibition, Egg-Production and Table Purposes

Strain is another word for pedigree and if we start with two
unrelated birds, build them up for successive generations so as to
throw the points we desire, we have established a strain. In
starting line-breeding we can commence with several hens or pullets
as one of the units, but all should be related (sisters) and of the
same breeding. It is best to get unrelated stock as the foundation
i.e., buy the male from one source and the female or females from
a different breeder. We must select these original units for " like
begets like " and as we go on each year certain points must be bred
for and perfected. Unlike cannot beget like, for how could a
White Dotte mated to a White Leghorn breed pure White
Wyandottes ? My readers must not suppose that line-breeding
solves the breeding-of-winners problem. By taking two medium
quality White Wyandottes and line-breeding without selection of
type, color, etc., we shall be no nearer our goal in ten years' time.
Line-breeding preserves the qualities in a strain ; if we start with
tip-top birds we shall soon breed tip-top birds, if with inferior stock
those that are inferior. Start with high-class original parents
and select rigorously each mating for type, color, etc. One thing
can be said of such a system of line-breeding, and that is, that when
a winner is once bred, it is bred, and other winners will follow.

Basics in Down Genes

All chickens have black and red (gold). These are the only colors in chickens. All the different patterns and colors depend on either restricting or enhancing these two colors.


E--extended black. dominate Chicks are hatched as black. In adult hood they are black with red (gold) or white (silver) in the hackles and saddles. (polecats, furriness) My Mottles have E.
e Wh -- dominate wheaten. Chicks hatch out as whitish. adults are: males: red hackle and saddle without stripping. Breast, tail, and wing bows black. Females: Wheat colored to reddish. Black restricted to the wings and tail. Example Wheaten. My Mille Fleurs have e wh.
e+ --wild. Chicks are brown like chipmunks when hatched, with striped head and back. In adult hood males: Much like the wheaten males above, but the red is not quite so bright. Females: Brownish with very fine black penciling on body. Breast is salmon Example Black Breasted Red/ Silver Ducklings.e b --dark brown. Chicks striped back with a blurred head. Adults males: as above. Females as above but have a red/brown breast instead of salmon.
e bc -- buttercup. Chicks as chicks above but the yellowish white stripe is wider. Head stripe is broken and irregular. Adults as above.
e y --recessive wheaten. chicks are white. Adults are like above but the red is darker and both sexes have striping in the saddle and hackle.

These are the foundation that the other genes work with to give us the colors and patterns that we enjoy in chickens. Extended black is the only dominate gene in this group. The others are incomplete dominate. A chick with 2 different down genes will show traits of each.


mi -- Melanotic. recessive This gene allows for the normally red areas of chickens to be black. (Melanotic plus E = a black bird).


Bl --Andalusin blue. One gene to a black bird will be blue. Two genes will be splash. See blue gene. One of my favorite genes. Without it I would only have Mottled and Mille Fleur. It changes a Mille Fleur to a Blue Mille Fleur of Golden Neck depending on the number of genes present. It also changes a Mottled to a Blue Mottled.
Co --Columbian dominate. Removes black to the hackle and tail. Makes for the male to have a white or buff breast. Males and females have same color instead of being different. This changes a Wheaten bird to a Buff Columbian
Db --Dark Brown. dominate Reported by Moore and Smyth (1972) makes a male into a black tailed white or buff or red while not removing all the stripping from the body of the female. A gene I'm not familiar with.
Ii -- Dominate white. effective in changing black to white but not so good on red e.g. creaminess on whites. Birds with Ii will have some black spots on breast. Used for Red Pyle Old English Game.
Er -- Erminette -- dominate. Reported by Hutt (1964) A heterozygous pattern Most feathers are white with the rest being black. Double dose birds are all white. Not a gene that I'm familiar with.
pi --Pied -- recessive Black and white are evenly marked. Best known example is Exchequer Leghorn. Another gene that I'm not familiar with.
Sd -- Sex Link Dilution. Reported by Munro (1946) Closely associated with Sex Linked Barring (B) Sd males are barred, Sd Sd males are white. Sd females are bluish ghost barred, sd females are barred. Another gene that I'm not familiar with.


B -- Sex Link Barring-- dominate. "puts" white bars on the feather. Best example Barred Plymouth Rocks. Males can have 1 or 2 genes. Hence dark and light barred males. Females only 1. Males pass trait to sons and daughters. Females pass trait on to sons. Also effects red by having white bars on red feather. Best example Creel Old English Game.
mo -- Mottled --recessive. Makes a black bar with white spot below, at end of feather. Another one of my favorites. Without it I would only have Black and Buff Columbian (changes a black bird to a Mottled and a Buff Columbian bird to a Mille Fleur) .


cc -- Recessive white --Changes both black and red to white. Working with recessive white can be tricky as it "white washes" a bird. It may have the phenotype of a totally different color or even a nonstandard color underneath the white. The only way to determine what the white is hiding is to mate it to a black bird. You can get barred, polecats, etc.
lav -- lavender.-- recessive. Black becomes gray and red feathers become cream.
rs -- red-splashed white. recessive Reported by Quinn (1934) A bird with 2 genes is reported to be white with splashes of red and black. Know nothing about this one either.


G- --This is the second basic color of chickens (Black is the first) This makes for a buff colored bird (along with another gene) or causes the red in the red areas of the red and black bird.


ar -- Autosomal Red. -- Reported by Hutt (1949) In theory only. Independent of Sex Link Gold (red) as Silver doesn't effect it. Suggested that this makes for the Golden Duckwing Group. Personally know nothing about it. But suspect that Mh (mahogany) might do the same trick.
Mh --Mahogany. -- dominate. Makes for a dark red bird. Best known example : Rhode Island Red.


S -- Sex Link Silver Incomplete dominate. Opposite of Sex Linked Gold. Changes gold to silver. Females have one gene. Males have 2 (or can have 1 of each). If a male has 1 for gold and one for silver his saddle and hackle is creamish. Changes a Black Breasted Red to Silver Duckwing or a Golden Sebright to a Silver Sebright.


ig -- cream recessive. Reported by Punnett (1948) Described as introducing a rich cream to gold or a pale silver to silver. Know nothing about this one.
Di -- Dilute-- dominate Reported by Brumbaugh and Hollander Makes a red/gold bird into a buff. Another one that I haven't worked with.
cb -- champagne blond -- recessive. Also reported by Brumbaugh and Hollander. Reported to do the same as above. I tend to support this for Buffs from some breeding/crossing that I have done with Buff Plymouth Rocks, that there is a recessive gene that dilutes gold to a warm buff.

However some authors -- Somes and Smyth (1965) report that buffs carry a suppressor of red.


Ab -- autosomal barring. Another gene I know nothing about.
Lg -- lacing. dominate gives the Partridge Plymouth Rock females the lacing pattern. Same for Silver Penciled Plymouth Rocks.
Sp -- spangling. dominate. Jeffery call this trait a pattern. I think of it as black restrictor. It removes black from all of the feather except the very end making a black inverted V. Best known examples Silver Spangled Hamburg and Golden Spangled Hamburg.

Above information found on ultimatefowl. com/wiki/

Blue to Blue = 50% Blue, 25% Splash, 25% Black
Splash to Blue = 50% Blue, 50% Splash
Splash to Black = 100% Blue
Splash to Splash = 100% Splash
Blue to Black = 50% Blue, 50% Black
Black to Black = 100% Black

Two doses (dun splash or khaki) breed true, so 100% dun splash or khaki.
Dun Splash x Black will give (100%) Dark Brown Dun
Dun Splash x Dark Brown Dun gives (50%) Dun Splash, (50%) Dark Brown Dun
Dark Brown Dun x Dark Brown Dun gives (25%) Dun Splash, (50%) Dark Brown and (25%) Black
Dark Brown Dun x Black gives (50%) Dark Brown Dun and (50%) Black

*Mottled (recessive)

Solid + Solid = All solids
Solid + Mottled = 100% solids, all carrying mottled
Solid (carrying Mottled) + Solid = all solid, 50% carrying mottled
Solid (carrying Mottled) + Solid (carrying Mottled) = 75% solids [50% carrying mottled, 25% pure solids], 25% mottled
Solid (carrying Mottled) + Mottled = 50% solids [all carrying mottled], 50% mottled
Mottled + Mottled = 100% Mottled

*Cuckoo/Barred (Sex-linked Dominant)

Cuckoo (B/B) + Cuckoo (B/B) = all cuckoo
Black male + Cuckoo female = females black (non barring), males cuckoo (B/b) -carrying non-barring/black
Cuckoo (B/B) male + Black female = all cuckoos, all males (B/b) -carrying non-barring/ black
Cuckoo (B/b -carrying non-barring/black) male + Black female = of males: 50% Cuckoo [B/b -all carrying non-barring/black], 50% Black, of females: 50% Cuckoo, 50% Black
Cuckoo (B/b -carrying non-barring/black) male + Cuckoo female = of males: 50% Cuckoo, (B/b -carrying non-barred/black, 50% pure Cuckoo (B/B), of females: 50% Cuckoo, 50% Black.

* Sex-linked Gold (recessive) & Sex-linked Silver (dominant)

Gold + Gold = all gold
Gold male + Silver female = all gold females, all silver males (S/s) -carrying gold
Silver male (S/S) + Gold female = all silvers, all males carrying gold (S/s)
Silver (S/s -carrying gold) male + Gold female = of males: 50% Silver [S/s -all carrying Gold], 50% Gold, of females: 50% Silver, 50% Gold
Silver (S/s -carrying gold) male + Silver female = of males: 50% Silver -carrying Gold (S/s), 50% pure Silver (S/S), of females: 50% Silver, 50% Gold

* Self Blue(recessive)
Black + Self Blue = 100% Blacks, all carrying Self Blue
Black (carrying Self Blue) + Black = All black, 50% carrying Self Blue
Black (carrying Self Blue) + Black (carrying Self Blue) = 75% Blacks [50% carrying Self Blue, 25% pure Blacks], 25% Self Blue
Black (carrying Self Blue) + Self Blue = 50% Blacks [all carrying Lavender], 50% Self Blue
Self Blue + Self Blue = 100% Self Blue

Crele....................Crele............100% Crele.......................................100% Crele
Crele....................B.B. Red......100% Intermediate...........................100% Crele
Intermediate.......Crele...........50% Crele & 50% Intermediate.........50% Crele & 50% B.B. Red
Intermediate.......B.B. Red......50% Intermediate & 50% B.B. Red....50% Crele & 50% B.B. Red
B.B. Red..............Crele............100% Intermediate...........................100% B.B. Red

When breeding for egg color --

Blue X Blue = Blue
Blue X White (eg, Leghorn) = Blue to Light Blue
Blue X Brown (eg, RIR) = Green
Blue X Dark Brown (eg, Maran) = Olive Brown

Here is a list of some helpful links.
American Poultry Association
American Bantam Association
The APA/ABA Youth Program
The National 4H Website
The National FFA Website
American Livestock Breed Conservancy
The Poultry Diseases Network
Poultry Breeding and Genetics
Rhode Island Red Club Of America
Rhode Island Red Club Of America Message Board Forum
Plymouth Rock Fanciers of America
Plymouth Rock Fanciers of America Message Board Forum
Serama Club of America
Serama Council of North America
Ameraucana Breeders Club
American Silkie Bantam Club
American Buttercup Club
Belgian d'Uccle and Booted Bantam Club
Cochins International
Japanese Bantam Breeders Association
Modern Game Bantam Club
Old English Game Bantam Club of America
Rosecomb Bantam Federation
Dominique Club of America
The American Dominique Chicken
The American Brown Leghorn Club
The American Brown Leghorn Club Message Board Forum
United Orpington Club
United Orpington Club Message Board Forum
International Waterfowl Breeders Association
Chantecler Fanciers International
American Sumatra Association
Marans Chicken Club USA
Marans of America Club
Polish Breeders Club
American Brahma Club Message Board Forum
United Gamefowl Breeders Association
American Langshan Club
The Russian Orloff Club of America
United Peafowl Association
Ohio State University. Livestock.
Southeast Ohio Poultry Breeders Association
Ohio National
American Buckeye Club
American Buckeye Poultry Club

Protein -
Protein is essential to the structure of red blood cells, for the proper functioning of antibodies resisting infection, for the regulation of enzymes and hormones, for growth, and for the repair of body tissue. Protein can be naturally produced in the body from processing Amino Acids, but can be supplemented as raw protein also.

Meat and Fish
Dairy Products
Whole grains
Information from Ultimate Fowl

Amino acid -
In chemistry, an amino acid is a molecule containing both amine and carboxyl functional groups. These molecules are particularly important in biochemistry, where this term refers to alpha-amino acids with the general formula H2NCHRCOOH, where R is an organic substituent.[1] In the alpha amino acids, the amino and carboxylate groups are attached to the same carbon, which is called the αcarbon. The various alpha amino acids differ in which side chain (R group) is attached to their alpha carbon. They can vary in size from just a hydrogen atom in glycine through a methyl group in alanine to a large heterocyclic group in tryptophan.

Amino acids are critical to life, and have a variety of roles in metabolism. One particularly important function is as the building blocks of proteins, which are linear chains of amino acids. Amino acids are also important in many other biological molecules, such as forming parts of coenzymes, as in S-adenosylmethionine, or as precursors for the biosynthesis of molecules such as heme. Due to this central role in biochemistry, amino acids are very important in nutrition.

The amino acids are commonly used in food technology and industry. For example, monosodium glutamate is a common flavor enhancer that gives foods the taste called umami. Beyond the amino acids that are found in all forms of life, amino acids are also used in industry, with the production of biodegradable plastics, drugs and chiral catalysts being particularly important applications.
Information from Wikipedia

Amino Acids -
Amino acids play central roles both as building blocks of proteins and as intermediates in metabolism. The 20 amino acids that are found within proteins convey a vast array of chemical versatility. The precise amino acid content, and the sequence of those amino acids, of a specific protein, is determined by the sequence of the bases in the gene that encodes that protein. The chemical properties of the amino acids of proteins determine the biological activity of the protein. Proteins not only catalyze all (or most) of the reactions in living cells, they control virtually all cellular process. In addition, proteins contain within their amino acid sequences the necessary information to determine how that protein will fold into a three dimensional structure, and the stability of the resulting structure.

Amino Acids
Aspartic acid
Glutamic acid

Whole grains
Information from Ultimate Fowl

Protein and Amino Acid Deficiencies -
The optimal level of balanced protein intake changes according to age; for growing chicks it is 18-23% of the diet; for growing poults and gallinaceous upland game birds, 26-30%; and for growing ducklings and goslings, 20-22%. If the protein and component Amino Acids content of the diet is below these levels, birds tend to grow more slowly. Even when a diet contains the recommended quantities of protein, satisfactory growth also requires sufficient quantities and proper balance of all the essential Amino Acids. Few specific signs are associated with a deficiency of the various Amino Acids, except for a peculiar cup-shaped appearance of the feathers in chickens with arginine deficiency and loss of pigment in some of the wing feathers in bronze turkeys with lysine deficiency. All deficiencies of essential Amino Acids result in retarded growth or reduced egg size or egg production. Some deficiencies or even imbalances of Amino Acids may be related to management problems such as hysteria, pickouts and blowouts, and Fatty Liver Hemorrhagic Syndrome.
Information from The Merck Veterinary Manual

Fats are a concentrated form of energy which help maintain body temperature, and protect body tissues and organs. Fat also plays an essential role in carrying the four fat-soluble vitamins: A, D, E, and K. Fat calories in food are readily stored, while it takes energy to transform protein and carbohydrates to body fat.

Sources -
Black Oil Sunflower Seeds
Information from Ultimate Fowl

Calcium -
Calcium is a very important part of a mature hens health, and laying eggs. Egg shells are almost completely made of calcium. Along with Vitamin D, calcium is a vital part of the egg laying process. If the calcium intake of your hens is not adequate, you can have problems with the consistency of their laying, and soft egg shells. High levels of calcium can cause problems too. Young fowl, and roosters typically don't need an extra source of calcium, and too much can be harmful to them. It is best not to feed a layer type feed to all your fowl for this reason. You are better off to give them a normal type feed, without added calcium, and provide a free choice source of calcium for them, like oyster shells, so the birds that need it for laying eggs, have access, but the birds that don't, won't have to eat the extra calcium that they don't need.

Crushed oyster shells
Boiled egg shells
Information from Ultimate Fowl

Phosphorus -
Phosphorus is needed for healthy bones, energy metabolism, and acid base balance in the body.

lean meats
Information from Ultimate Fowl

Calcium and Phosphorus Inbalances -
A deficiency of either calcium or phosphorus in the diet of young growing birds results in abnormal bone development even when the diet contains adequate vitamin D3. This condition, rickets, can also be caused by a dietary deficiency of vitamin D3 (Vitamin D3 Deficiency), which is necessary for absorption of calcium. A deficiency of either calcium or phosphorus results in lack of normal skeletal calcification. Rickets is seen mainly in growing birds. Calcium deficiency in adult laying hens usually results in reduced shell quality and osteoporosis. This depletion of bone structure causes a disorder commonly referred to as cage layer fatigue. When calcium is mobilized from bone to overcome a dietary deficiency, the cortical bone erodes and is unable to support the weight of the hen.
Information from The Merck Veterinary Manual

Vitamin D -
Vitamin D is produced naturally in the body when exposed to the ultra violet rays from the sun, and its main function is to maintain normal blood levels of calcium, and phosphorus. Lack of vitamin D can cause soft egg shells, and brittle, or thin bones in fowl. Vitamin D also helps keep your birds immune system strong, and can affect their over all growth, and development. Extreme cases of vitamin D deficiency can even lead to diseases like Rickets.

The best way to keep normal levels of vitamin D in you fowl's system is exposure to sunlight, but if you need to supplement, you can get it from the following sources.
Fish (tuna, salmon, sardines, mackerel)
Boiled egg yolk
Water soluble vitamin supplements
Information from Ultimate Fowl

Carbohydrates -
There are two types of Carbohydrates Simple and Complex both are a major source of energy.
Simple carbohydrates: Simple sugars are found in refined sugars, like the white sugar you'd find in a sugar bowl. But you'll also find simple sugars in more nutritious foods, such as fruit and milk. It's better to get your simple sugars from food like fruit and milk.

Complex carbohydrates: These are also called starches. Starches include grain products, such as bread, crackers, pasta, and rice. As with simple sugars, some complex carbohydrate foods are better choices than others. Refined grains, such as white flour and white rice, have been processed, which removes nutrients and fiber. But unrefined grains still contain these vitamins and minerals. Unrefined grains also are rich in fiber, which helps your digestive system work well. Fiber helps you feel full, so you are less likely to overeat these foods. That explains why a bowl of oatmeal fills you up better than sugary candy that has the same amount of calories as the oatmeal.

With that being said whole grains would be a source of complex carbohydrates and some simple carbohydrates.
When you eat carbs, the body breaks them down into simple sugars, which are absorbed into the bloodstream. Insulin is needed to move sugar from the blood into the cells, where the sugar can be used as a source of energy.

Whole grains

Riboflavin -
Riboflavin is needed for energy metabolism, building tissue, and helps maintain good vision.

dairy products
lean meats
turnip greens
Information form Ultimate Fowl

Copper -
Copper plays an important role in a number of enzyme functions in the bird. Copper is closely associated with iron metabolism as it is a part of ceruloplasmin which is an enzyme that plays an important role in the oxidation of ferrous to ferric iron, controlling the movement of iron from the reticuloendothelium to liver and then plasma, affecting red blood cell formation. A copper deficiency can cause microcytic hypochromic anemia. Another important enzyme dependent on copper is lysyl oxidase which is an integral enzyme in elastin and collagen formation in birds. A deficiency of copper can cause bone abnormalities due to abnormal collagen synthesis. Tibial dyschondroplasia is an example of a leg disorder in poultry that can be caused by a copper deficiency. Poor collagen and/or elastin formation can also lead to cardiovascular lesions and aortic ruptures. Copper is also important for feather development as well as feather colour via its role in disulfide bond formation. Iron has a very specific function in all animals as a component of the protein heme found in the red blood cells protein haemoglobin and in the muscle cells protein myoglobin. Iron has a rapid turnover rate in the chicken 10 X per day, so it must be provided in a highly available form in the birds diet on a daily basis. Any internal infection such as coccidiosis can also interfere with iron absorption and availability. Iron deficiency can result in microcytic, hypochromic anemia in poultry.

information from zoo tecnica international

Iron -
Iron is needed for the formation of hemoglobin, which carries oxygen from the lungs to the body cells.

Red Cell
green leafy vegetables
whole grains
Information from Ultimate Fowl

Iron and Copper Defiencies -
Deficiencies of both iron and copper can lead to anemia. Iron deficiency causes a severe anemia with a reduction in PCV. In color-feathered strains, there is also loss of pigmentation in the feathers. The birds requirements for RBC synthesis take precedence over metabolism of feather pigments, although if a fortified diet is introduced, all subsequent feather growth is normal. Iron may be needed not only for the red feather pigments, which are known to contain iron, but also to function in an enzyme system involved in feather pigmentation. Ochratoxin at 4-8 µg/g diet also causes an iron deficiency characterized by hypochromic microcytic anemia. Aflatoxin also reduces iron absorption. High levels of iron salts can lead to formation of insoluble phosphates in the digesta, with reduced phosphorus absorption and subsequent incidence of rickets. Insoluble iron phosphates produce a colloidal suspension that may also adsorb vitamins and other trace minerals. Such problems will not occur unless supplements exceed normal levels by at least 10-fold. Young chicks become lame in 2-4 wk when fed a copper-deficient diet. Bones are fragile and easily broken, epiphyseal cartilage becomes thickened, and vascular penetration of the thickened cartilage is markedly reduced. These bone lesions in chickens are quite different from those seen in other farm animals and resemble the bone changes noted in birds with vitamin A deficiency. Copper-deficient chickens also show ataxia and spastic paralysis. Copper deficiency in birds, and especially in turkeys, can lead to rupture of the aorta. The biochemical lesion in the copper-deficient aorta is likely related to failure to synthesize desmosine, the cross-link precursor of elastin. The lysine content of copper-deficient elastin is 3 times that seen in control birds, suggesting failure to incorporate lysine into the desmosine molecule. In field cases of naturally occurring aortic rupture, many birds have <10 ppm copper in the liver, compared with 15-30 ppm normally seen in birds of comparable age. High levels of sulfate, molybdenum, and ascorbic acid can reduce liver copper levels. A high incidence of aortic rupture has been seen in turkeys fed 4-nitrophenylarsonic acid. The problem can be resolved by feeding higher levels of copper, suggesting that products such as 4-nitro may complex with copper. Most practical diets for poultry contain adequate iron and copper. Nevertheless, feed manufacturers often add small amounts as an insurance measure
Information from The Merck Veterinary Manual

Here are some excellent crosses for table fowl. --

For the list below the first breed is the rooster and the second is the Hen.
Example -- White Wyandotte X Light Sussex would be a White Wyandotte Rooster over a Light Sussex Hen.

Light Sussex x White Wyandotte
An excellent table chicken but care must be taken in selecting the breeders so the breast bone of the offspring is not too high. Care should also be taken in selecting the White Wyandotte hens, they must not have any black in the legs in order to get good white fleshed table bird. These are fast growing birds that are short legged, carrying lots of meat. Feathers are white with the odd black fleck. Almost all of these birds will be white fleshed.

White Wyandotte X Light Sussex
Take care in selecting the White Wyandotte Cocks, they must not have any black in the legs in order to get good white fleshed table bird. Some chicks will have a yellow skin but other than this, the resulting birds are much the same as the Light Sussex X White Wyandotte cross mentioned above.

Indian Game (Cornish) X Rhode Island Red
This produces a yellow skinned bird which can be greatly enhanced in color by feeding corn and allowing access to fresh green grass. The Rhode Island Red is a fast growing breed which dominates the slower growing Indian Game. Indian Game cocks should be at least a year old so that fertility is high. Since Rhode Island Reds are prolific layers, there is never any shortage of hatching eggs.

Indian Game (Cornish) X Light Sussex on Light Sussex
This is a second cross that was once very popular to produce a very meaty white fleshed table bird. The first cross results in slow growth but the second results in very fast growth.

In the Indian Game (Cornish) X Light Sussex on Light Sussex above, you will bred a Indian Game (Cornish) Rooster to a Light Sussex Hen then the (Hen) offspring of this cross would be crossed back to a Light Sussex Rooster

Thank you so much, Chris!! I was looking up definitions all day yesterday and wishing I could get answers in one place!! Then just now ran across all this helpful data!!! WOW! Awesome answer guide!!!!

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