White Rock Roo x Barred Rock Hen = Blue Rocks???

Discussion in 'General breed discussions & FAQ' started by stefan333, Jul 26, 2013.

  1. stefan333

    stefan333 Chirping

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    I hatched my very first mixed chickens who are now 5 days old. Dad is a White Plymouth Rock (bought at TSC) and Mom is a Barred Plymouth Rock (bought from a local farm/hatchery). I hatched 2 babies, and when they first hatched, I noticed they had the same blueness that my Blue Orps had when I hatched them. Now that they have the tips of their wing feathers one appears to be blue, the other a lighter blue (almost lavenderish). I have both Blue and Lavender Orps who are either not laying or are in a different coop, so I've experienced what those colors look like. I've tried to research on the internet, but I get so confused at complicated chicken genetics (and I don't confuse easily). I do understand BASIC blue and lavender genetics, though, and I know they're not the same thing genetically, even though they can look similar. I'm curious: Is it possible that my White Rock is hiding some blue genes somewhere, and if so I thought both parents had to have blue genes to create blue offspring. And the chances of both parents having that are slim. Is it really possible to mix white and barred and come out with blue? I should probably wait to see how they continue to feather out, but this is rather exciting. I was also curious as to how people breed for blue in the first place if they don't have any blue/black/splash to begin with. Before Blue Rocks ever existed how did someone make them exist? I always read this: blue x blue + 50% blue, 25% black, 25% splash ...and so forth, but how does a breeder create blue in the first place? When a Blue Plymouth Rock never existed did a breeder have to introduce another blue breed into the mix to get the blue gene then breed back to the standard once it was introduced? I'm fascinated with blue genetics, I just wish I understood it a little more.
     
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

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    The blue gene is a fun one. It’s not one of those that is either dominant or not, but rather partially dominant. (Or is that incomplete dominant? I’m not sure of that terminology.)

    You probably understand a lot of this but I’ll try to be basic. The blue gene comes in a pair, not like a sex linked gene, so that makes it a little simpler. Which gene of that gene pair gets passed to the offspring is purely random.

    There is just one gene involved in B/B/S. It’s either blue or it’s not blue. Let’s use BL to mean blue and bl to mean not blue. The possible combinations are:

    Bl.BL – Splash
    Bl.bl – Blue
    Bl,bl – not blue, default is black. I’ll explain that later.

    If you cross a Splash (Bl.Bl) with a Black (bl,bl) all chicks will get a BL,bl and be blue. If you cross a blue (Bl,bl) with another blue (Bl,bl) you get 25% Bl,Bl (splash), 50% Bl,bl (blue), and 25% bl,bl (black). A blue with a splash gives you 50% splash and 50% blue. These per cents are the odds on each individual chick. You have to hatch enough chicks for the averages to mean something before you really expect to get these per cents.

    There is no telling what is hiding under that white on the white rock. There are two different genes that could cause it to be white, the dominant white or the recessive white. It may have either or it may even have both. Either dominant white or recessive white can mask practically any other gene. How that affects the offspring depends on which of these genes it is and what else they are paired with. White rocks are hard to predict with any assurance.

    What I meant about black being the default is that the blue gene works on what would normally be black feathers otherwise. What would normally be a solid black bird should be a solid blue bird if it has one copy of the blue gene. A bird that is normally red with a black tail will be red with a blue tail if it has one copy of that blue gene. A bird that normally would not show any black will not show any blue even if it has one copy of that blue gene, say a solid white bird. It seems with chicken genetics there are always exceptions but this is how it normally works.

    Your assumption is right. If you want to bring in something different, say blue to a breed that does not have blue, you breed to an outside bird and them breed back to breed standards. That’s how new colors and patterns are developed, plus many show bird breeders use that technique to introduce or eliminate certain things.
     
  3. stefan333

    stefan333 Chirping

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    Thank you so much. I had a light bulb moment when reading this when it comes to how the blue gene works. I've always been fascinated, yet confused, and now it's a lot more clear. Thank goodness I have 3 large coops, because I'm going to have plenty of room to experiment with my Rocks and Blue Orpingtons.
     

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