Blue Genes

Blue Copper Marans rooster with splash and blue hens
Blue Copper Marans rooster with splash and blue hens

One of the long-term goals here at BuzzQuack is to get a breeding program in place. Right now, we are experimenting with Swedish Flower Hens and Australian Spotted ducks.

We will likely abandon the Swedish Flower Hen project because keeping a rooster in the city is too difficult. But, we have high hopes for the Australian Spotted duck project. We’ll talk more about Aussies at a later date. Today, we want to talk about breeding for the color blue, which is one of three Aussie colors.

Many people are familiar with blue-coated dogs (blue merles or blue brindles) and cats (Blue Russians), but the blue gene is also found in poultry. It’s a little trickier to breed for than the more standard colors.

There are guidelines for breeding for blue that will help breeders achive the colors they are after. But, it is important to know that when we talk percentages, we are talking about probabilities—meaning, the larger the breeding program, the higher the chances of you matching the probability.

If you’ve taken introductory level genetics or biology, you’ve probably learned the term heterozygote (e.g. a person with one brown and one blue gene will have brown eyes) and homozygote (e.g. a person with two blue genes will have blue eyes).

In poultry, a blue gene is a heterozygote. They must have the mixed gene to get the blue color.

Sometimes, you get what’s called a splash (typically, a white individual with splashes of blue).

PoultryKeeper  states that by breding blacks and blues together, you can produce  “twice as many as when just mating blues together although there are different shades of blue and some come out darker than others and if you are wanting the birds for showing or breeding, you only get about 50% of the ‘blues’ that show the desired shade of colouring.”

So here’s something that’s really fun–PoultryKeeper that shows what you can expect from your breeding efforts. Like we said earlier, your chances of getting these results increases with the size of your breeding program, but it’s a great general chart to get you started.

  • Blue X Blue = 50% Blue, 25% Black, 25% Splash
Blue X Black  = 50% Blue, 50% Black
  • Blue X Splash = 50% Blue, 50% Splash
  • Black X Black  = 100% Black
  • Splash X Splash = 100% Splash
  • Splash X Black = 100% Blue
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