Discussion in 'General breed discussions & FAQ' started by barb2604, Oct 9, 2012.

  1. barb2604

    barb2604 New Egg

    Oct 9, 2012
    iv been breeding dorkings now for a couple of years and learning as i go..i replace my rooster every year..This year iv had good hatch results..BUT..some of the chicks have got yellow legs..dorkings in every other respect except for a few with the yellow this a throwback? should i cull them??
  2. aoxa

    aoxa Overrun With Chickens

    You replace your rooster with one from your own hatch right?

    I don't think you need to replace the cock bird every year. Especially if you have one giving you really good results. The rooster that is responsible for these chicks with yellow legs, I would cull him as well as the chicks with the yellow legs.
  3. capayvalleychick

    capayvalleychick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 26, 2010
    Guinda CA
    There shouldn't be yellow legs showing up, ever, when breeding Dorkings. There must be another breed mixed in. Definitely cull the ones with yellow legs.

    Like aoxa said, there's no need to replace the rooster every year. If you add new strains, you will keep having unexpected results. Do some reading on the different methods of line breeding. The Heritage Large Fowl thread here on BYC is a good thread to read all the way through for information.

    That said, I think your current rooster may be of mixed breed, and shouldn't be used at all. And for the yellow legs to be cropping up, one of more of your hens are probably also mixed. I think it takes two carriers of yellow legs to produce chicks with yellow legs. Someone with more genetics knowledge than me can verify this. If you have any way to do single matings with each of your hens, you could find out which one(s) are producing the yellow legs and cull those. Purebred Dorkings never produce yellow legged chicks.

    Where did you get your birds? I know that there are breeders on both coasts who are mixing other breeds.

    I'm sorry that this is happening to you. I know how frustrating it can be to have defects pop up.

    Oh and [​IMG]
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2012
  4. aoxa

    aoxa Overrun With Chickens

    I have had mixed results with legs when breeding a buff Orp hen to a barred rock rooster. I got some with pink legs and some with yellow. My hen was definitely pure, and very nice too. Though hopefully someone will confirm or deny that you need 2 copies of the gene to come up with yellow legs. I really can't say with 100% assurance. The hen may be perfectly fine and the rooster is your only problem. I sure hope that is the case. I wouldn't keep any chicks that came from that rooster. They may have a hidden fault that will pop up just like it did this year.

    I would never suggest taking in new blood. I know people that have been breeding the same line without new blood for 20 years. Like the very old saying dictates: "Don't fix something that is not broken". IE: Don't add in new blood if you are having good results.
  5. 3riverschick

    3riverschick Poultry Lit Chaser

    May 19, 2009
    western PA
    My Coop
    I agree completely with aoxa,
    Your desire for biodiversity is crippling your breeding program. Biodiversity and classic animal breeding are two different things which will never mesh.
    Let me explain. It's a confusing arena of thought. On the one hand we are told to help save the rare breeds. That we need diversity in the gene pools to make them robust again. That's good as far as it goes. On the other hand, we have folks touting biodiveristy who claim we should breed open pedigrees ( new blood every generation creating an animal as unrelated as possible to the rest of its breed) to create biodiversity within a gene pool resulting in more robust stock. That's good as far as it goes. However, the two schools of thought can never exist within the same breeding program. Why? Because they spring from different basic philosophic parameters. What? I just want to know how to fix the legs in my chickens! Why do I care about philosophy? Because it deeply affects the results of your breeding program.
    What kind of creatures does classic animal breeding theory produce? Answer: Animals bred to specific "points" or "hallmarks" within a specific biological framework which will produce a creature better able to fufill its stated purpose.
    A better dairy cow, a better hunting dog, a better laying chicken, etc. Classic animal breeding theory says that while we are breeding a more robust animal, we are also perfecting the traits which make it easier and more profitable for that animal to succeed in its stated purpose and that all hallmarks of a breed are important to this purpose. With better structure, the dog runs more swiftly and scents out its prey more keenly. The racehorse runs more speedly while not fighting against an inferior structure which threatens to slow it down. The bird accomplishs its task to make more meat or eggs because its structure allows this. Structure is tied to color in that coloring can indicate genetic inheritance in fowl. An inheritance which can affect the utitlity for which the breeder is striving.
    So what does biodiversity breeding accomplish? These animals are bred under a philosophy which honors health and utitlity. The purpose is to breed a land-race which is robust and most able to do its job correctly. (notice the term is "land-race", not "breed", they are two different things and this is important)
    Sounds like the same thing doesn't it? It's not. Why? Because biodiversity advocates and breeders do not honor breed hallmarks except as they apply to robustness and utility. They are happy to create a race of creatures which perform their function without regard to specific hallmarks of the breed. Ah, there it is in a nutshell. Without specific attention or regard to specific hallmarks of the breed.
    Say what? Here's your answer: Classic animal breeding theory says every hallmark is part of the more perfect performance of a well-bred creature.
    Biodiversity says only those hallmarks which are an interagral part of the creatures health and utility are important.

    So while the two schools of thought seem to start out with the same goals, they quickly diverge into two separate camps of breeding philosophy which can never exist in the same breeding program. The allure of the philosophy of "biodiversity" is seductive, but has no place in classic animal breeding. Classic animal breeding much more often uses the term "genetic diversity" instead of "biodversity".
    This is why you are having problems in your classic animal breeding program when you are swapping out roosters every season. For a biodiversity person, you have no problems. Leg color doesn't matter, nor does comb shape, number of toes, color of feathers, etc. as long as the bird lays the correct amount of eggs and/or puts on the proper amount of meat before butchering plus remains healthy thru all this.
    Now you see the problem...but have one more question...How do I maintain biodiversiy within my flock; breed classic animal breeding and still have lovely birds.
    In mammals, this is a bit more complicated to answer. Fortunately, we are talking about birds, which have a plethora of sex-linked genes and an exceptionally wide genetic base as a species. Birds, fowl to be specific, can be inbred much deeper than many other creatures. In other kinds of creatures, there are breeding schemes which rest on the "in-breed 3 generations, then outcross" philosophy. In fowls, this need not be the case. Granted, some breeds of fowl have smaller gene pools than others. But switching to biodiversity breeding schemes will not solve any genetic bottleneck will only difuse the breed hallmarks and make them harder to retrieve in the breed's small gene pool. So what to do?
    Selection is the key. Prof. Gerald Bell said it well. He is well regarded in animal breeding circles, "
    "It is the varied opinion of breeders as to what constitutes the ideal representative of the breed, and their selection of breeding stock that maintains breed diversity."
    Jerold S. Bell, DVM
    Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, N. Grafton, MA

    And again, concerning developing "excellence in the abstract" in animal breeding (this time, racehorses),
    "My own view is that you must try to secure the best and most suitable breeding through both sire and dam, bring it both inbreeding and outcrossing as near and perfect in the abstract as you can. Success will depend on whether any particular foal takes after his dam and the majority of his maternal ascendants or after his sire and the majority of his paternal ascendants."
    The Aga Khan "Memoirs"

    The conclusion, it is not the diversity one brings to their breeding program...but the selection one makes within their breeding program..which creates excellence and maintains genetic diversity in breeding animals.

    However you say, there must be some need to balance the two ideas of selection and diversity! How shall we then proceed? There must be some kind of balance needed between the need for genetic diversity and selection for us to gain best success in our breeding programs! Yes, there is. The answer is selection within your breeding program when using classic animal breeding theory.
    Fortunately for us, greater minds than ours in poultry breeding have been studying, experimenting and perfecting that conundrum for over 100 years. They have laid down their findings in lit and discussions for us to use. Have found the breeding laws which help us navigate murky genetic waters. One of my favorite authors on this subject is Danne Honours uncle's uncle. Danne is the Dean of all facets of breeding Buff poultry. His uncle's uncle name was Wid Card. A veteran poultryman and judge of high repute, Judge Card made it a habit to travel the shows and spend time discussing how the laws of poultry breeding were simple. Then he wrote a great little book on the subject whch Cornell allowed to be scanned online for free. A great aid to breeders, even tho it was written in 1912..because it focuses on the laws of breeding. Results which will not change when matings are done. Here it is:
    Laws governing the breeding of standard fowls; a book covering outbreeding ; inbreeding and line breeding of all recognized breeds of domestic fowls, with chart, 1912 (1912)
    Author: Card, Wetherell Henry, 1860-
    Publisher: [Manchester, Conn., The Herald printing company
    Now we have the "why" and the "fix" for your leg color problem in your Dorkings.
    Best wishes for continued success with your flock,
    Karen Tewart in western PA, USA

    From Card's book, Page 6, regarding definition of Bar Sinister
    " popular and erroneous term for bend sinister .
    Definition of BAR SINISTER
    1: a heraldic charge held to be a mark of bastardy
    2: the fact or condition of being of illegitimate birth

    Last edited: Oct 11, 2012
    5 people like this.
  6. barb2604

    barb2604 New Egg

    Oct 9, 2012
    well thanks to all for the information.. very very much appreciated..I am going to stick with the bloodlines i know to be pure and retain my breeders from within that core. U have all been extremely helpful and given me much to read. :) Thanks ppl :D
  7. 3riverschick

    3riverschick Poultry Lit Chaser

    May 19, 2009
    western PA
    My Coop
    More than welcome, Barb. I think you will find a lot of answers in Card's book. I continue to reread it, smile.
    Per your original request about shank color in your Dorkings, a search, "inheritance of shank color in chickens"
    brings up 3 downloadable PDF articles on the topic.
    Knox is well known in poultry science circles.

    Karen [​IMG]
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2012
  8. 3riverschick

    3riverschick Poultry Lit Chaser

    May 19, 2009
    western PA
    My Coop

    Familiar science & fancier's journal, Volumes 3-4
    Pages 184 and 185 and on....


    Some time ago I purchased some colored Dorkings, whose grandparents emanated
    from a luxurious home in an aristocratic quarter, and about the same time I
    purchased some silver-grey Dorkings, whose grandparent was one of Baily's hens,
    and hence had lived in open quarters. As to age and size they were about equal,
    but I do not think if I had tried my utmost, and of set purpose, that I could by
    any possibility have had two sets of pullets more diametrically opposed to each
    other, for, while the colored Dorkings were soft and loose, or open-feathered
    birds, the silver-greys were hard and close-feathered¡ªso beautifully
    closefeathered that at a little distance it was difficult to distinguish where
    one joined another, and as tightly fitting and as close to the body as a lady's
    glove on her hand. On arrival, and in my ignorance, I admired the colored
    Dorkings the most; but when the weather began to get cold a marked difference
    was immediately observable, and which increased. In short, the colored Dorkings
    in cold weather resembled an East Indian black in the streets of London on a
    frosty day¡ªblue, shivering, and chattering, and always aiming at warmer
    quarters, while the silver-greys walked about in utter defiance of slush, sleet,
    and snow, and as comfortable as English lads frolicking on the ice. The colored
    Dorkings eat fully one-third more food, and do not lay more than one-fourth of
    the eggs. Since December, when the silver-grey Dorkings commenced to lay, up to
    the present time, they have laid every other day generally; besides this they
    have frequently laid numbers in daily succession, and occasionally I have had
    more eggs than birds, i. e., two in one day. I do not believe that even the
    black Minorcas could have beaten the silver-grey Dorkings during the last six
    months, whatever happens in the other half of the year. These are in truth
    splendid layers, and their food is plain and substantial, viz., barley, Indian
    corn, buckwheat, vegetables, and household scraps.
    In every respect they fare alike, but notwithstanding that the point of color is
    in favor of the colored Dorkings, they are the most unprofitable birds that ever
    belonged to me, while the others, on the contrary, are most profitable, and all
    the difference lies in the closeness of the feathers. This closeness of feather
    should not be confounded with abundance of feather, for I have some Cochin hens,
    aud the close-feathered birds lay more than the loose, open, and very
    abundantly-feathered ones. I now attach more value to close and tightly-fitting
    feathered birds than to color, and firmly believe by strict attention to that
    main point (not forgetting the others) to be able to defend the Dorkings against
    all comers. Modern breeders, in their desire to improve the size and color of
    the Dorkings, have done it in such a way as to deal a severe blow to the
    reputation of this splendid breed of fowls. For the purpose of being able to
    produce large cockerels and pullets at the autumn and winter shows, they have
    resorted to an artificially created warm temperature, so as to hatch a brood of
    chickens as near to the 1st of January as possible. This being done for some
    generations, loose-feathered birds is the result, and a very moderate supply of
    eggs the consequence. A remarkably large Dorking pullet which I purchased for my
    best trump card, laid the fewest eggs of any hen I ever had, and ultimately died
    from congestion or inflammation, produced by moderately cold weather. No bird
    commencing the summer with a decent constitution could have been more
    unprofitable, and in the way of food she was a glutton. When this bird arrived,
    our family circle broke out in raptures, and particularly in this direction:
    "What beautiful soft feathers 1 like touching some lady's muff!" Being densely
    ignorant on the matter, I of course was equally delighted, but did not mourn for
    her when she went the way of all flesh. When I hear (or see in print) some
    breeders saying that much depends on the character of the soil¡ªdry, gravelly,
    and chalky, in contradistinction to any other combination of geological
    materials¡ªwhether Dorkings flourish or not, I think of my damp and altogether
    unlikely place, and my closely-feathered Dorkings, and marvel at the great
    number of the most diverse opinions which can be held on any given thing, when
    the real and all-important point is altogether ignored. Of course the best place
    for birds which are bred up in hot-houses is a tropical country, but if English
    breeders want the large population of the British Islands for customers, they
    must breed to suit their requirements, and not for very exceptional customers in
    the neighborhood of Timbuctoo, which perhaps would have suited the large pullet
    spoken of. Notwithstanding that the black breeds arc generally the best
    egg-layers, yet in this climate it is better to have a close feathered white
    bird than a loose-feathered black one,
    and which is the reason why, here and there in this country, we hear of white
    Dorkings, Cochins, Leghorns, and Minorcas, laying better than darker-colored
    birds. I am very sorry, indeed, to see breeders virtually sacrificing closeness
    of feather for the sake of having early broods in some cases, and large birds in
    others, by resorting to an artificially-produced warmer climate, for closeness
    of feather once gone, or more properly a shunt having been given towards
    looseness of feather, cannot be again, in my opinion, attained by the same
    stock. To obtain closeness of feather, such breeders would have to commence dc
    novo with stock birds already possessing that indispensable qualification
    towards abundance of eggs. If we take two boys, one black and one white, and
    expose them to the influences of very cold, frosty weather, when stark naked,
    and for a number of days in succession, they will both die with, perhaps, a
    day's difference between their ends; and this quite irrespective of whether the
    one stood on a dry, chalky soil, and the other on damp ground. And what I am
    astonished at is, that the infinitesimal should be made so much of, and the
    momentous should be ignored as something of very little value.
    1 person likes this.
  9. 3riverschick

    3riverschick Poultry Lit Chaser

    May 19, 2009
    western PA
    My Coop
    Here is the Summary of the Knox article on shank color whose URL was cited above in post # 7.
    Very interesting. I always wondered why the SOP stated what color the underside of the feet of
    any particular breed of fowl should be. Now I know.

    The genes WW, Ww, or ww are presumably present in all breeds and
    varieties of chickens, although evidence of their presence in the shanks is
    often masked by the deposition of melanic pigment in the shanks.
    There is a single autosomal gene difference between white shank color
    (the absence of lipochrome pigment, WW) and yellow shank color (the
    presence of lipochrome color, ww) the former being dominant to the latter.
    Dark blue and light blue shanks are caused by the deposition of melanic
    pigment in various cells of shanks that have a white skin for a ground
    color. Dark green and light green (willow) shanks are caused by the deposition
    of melanic pigment in the shanks which have a yellow skin for a
    ground color.
    Black shanks are caused by the deposition of melanin in the shanks and
    appear the same in black plumage birds whether they have yellow or
    white skin color; however, one can be distinguished from the other in respect
    to skin color by examining the bottom of the feet. In the one case
    they will be white and in the other yellow.
    The black plumage genes EE appear to have a general effect upon the
    deposition of melanic pigment and cause the deposition of melanic pigment
    in the shanks as well as in the plumage.
    Any gene that affects the extension of black pigment in the plumage
    seems to have a restricting effect upon the melanic pigment in the shanks.
    This is especially true in the case of the barring genes.
    Dark shank color caused by the black plumage genes, EE, is not sexlinked.
    However, it appears so when associated with modifying restrictive
    factors for the extension of black genes EE that are sex-linked, such as
    the barring factors.
    There is still the possibility that there is a sex-linked dark shank color
    gene which has not thus far been adequately differentiated from the effect
    of black and barring plumage genes.
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2012
  10. aoxa

    aoxa Overrun With Chickens

    3riverschick, You are very helpful :) Very much appreciated, even though I don't think I'll ever get into dorkings.

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