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MM 46

Blue Gene

by | Mar 16, 2021 | Meyer Moment

Let’s take a Meyer Moment to talk about blue genetics. Chicken genetics are truly fascinating and complex. You don’t have to be an experienced breeder or geneticist to know that chicken feathers are some of nature’s most beautiful handiwork. Blue is one most sought-after color of chickens here at Meyer Hatchery and for good reason.

Read Full Episode Transcript

Hey everyone! Welcome back to The Coop with Meyer Hatchery – where we talk all things poultry in hopes of inspiring crazy chicken keepers and educating future flock owners. Each week we like to take a Meyer Moment to cover relevant happenings. 

Let’s take a Meyer Moment to talk about blue genetics. Chicken genetics are truly fascinating and complex. You don’t have to be an experienced breeder or geneticist to know that chicken feathers are some of nature’s most beautiful handiwork. Blue is one most sought-after color of chickens here at Meyer Hatchery and for good reason. 

Genotype is the term referring to the genetic makeup of any organism. Mendel’s law of inheritance states that for any genetic trait, a chick receives a gene from each parent. The blue coloring is made from two different genes, black, and splash. By “mixing” these two colors, we are able to achieve blue chicks. If we breed a black parent to a splash parent, 100% of the chicks should come out blue. The chick receives a gene from each parent, a dominant black and a recessive splash, which genetically is a blue chick.

When the breeding flock consists of blue birds, the resulting offspring will contain approximately 25% black chicks, 50% blue chicks, and 25% splash chicks.

Phenotype refers to the actual feather colors and patterns caused by the genotype. Since the color blue is a dilute color caused by the black and splash combination, there can be a wide variety of blue displayed in the resulting chicks. Blues can range from a faint light coloring to an almost black-blue color. Some of the genetically blue chicks can actually look very dark, almost to the point of looking like a black chick. If a male is ordered, every attempt is made to only send the blue phenotype.

Self Blue is the term used to describe a blue color in poultry that does genetically breed true. Usually, when a breed is genetically self-blue, it will be described as a lavender-colored breed. As an example, consider the Lavender Orpington versus the Blue Orpington, similar-looking birds but genetically the former will breed true while the latter will not. Self Blue parents will produce 100% blue (lavender) chicks without the dominant black and recessive splash color variations. 

You can almost always assume that if any breed is called just “blue” without the “self blue” designation, it may produce the black and splash offspring in addition to the blue.  Producing a self blue breed takes many generations of selective breeding to develop the pure genotype and the resulting strong phenotype expected in a self-blue breed.

We hope you enjoyed this Meyer Moment about blue genetics and that this info helps you build your own unique flock.  

Enjoy the rest of your week and as always, thank you for listening to The Coop!

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