Blue Chicken Genetics

Or, why I am becoming a crazy chicken lady.

Blue chicken genetics is fascinating. You may remember that I purchased four blue birchen marans chicks a few weeks ago, and also got four free crosses. Blue birchen marans are pretty rare, and it’s hard finding good pictures of them online. Just to describe what they are, here’s a quick rundown.

Marans (always with the “s,” even if there’s only one of them) is the breed of chicken. It’s a French breed that lays chocolate brown eggs. (This is fascinating in and of itself because the brown color isn’t in the shell as with most eggs; instead, it’s a pigment that the chicken overlays on the egg in the oviduct. Basically, it’s spray painted on. I have absolutely no idea what the genetic, survival of the fittest purpose of this extra step is.)

Birchen is a pattern of either gold or silver on the head that shows up as this kind of netted effect from the crown through the neck on the hens. Google birchen hens to see what it looks like.

And then there’s the blue. Blue in chickens is more of a gray with a blue tinge. It’s a lovely color. The blue gene is a recessive dominant, which basically means this: If a chicken has one blue gene, any black coloring is lightened to this blue color. If a chicken has two blue genes, any black coloring is lightened to white. Two-gened chickens are referred to as splash because they are predominantly white with some blue splashes.

Okay, this is where I get really obsessive. I have found a chicken calculator online.

Yes. A chicken calculator. You plug in the phenotype (or actual genes if you know them) of the parents, and get a punnet square of the resultant offspring. Then you can continue with the line.

I was really curious about the crosses I got, and what they would look like.

This is their father, a splash marans (well, a picture of what the father looks like–not the actual father:
splashcockerel

And this is what their mother looks like, a silver laced wyandotte bantam:
slwybtyp

According to the chicken calculator, all the offspring should be unicolor. Which bummed me out because I was hoping for some lacing, which I think is beautiful. But, keep in mind that there are lots of genes that can achieve the same effect–and these genes don’t necessarily all show up in the phenotypes you’re describing.

And lookee here. This little percher appears to have blue lacing.
stuff-011

Comments (4)

  1. Melanie wrote::

    That chick is so darn cute!

    Saturday, May 23, 2009 at 12:20 pm #
  2. Gina wrote::

    Oh, you DO have lacing there! I am so thrilled that you got some uncommon-breed chickies. :)

    Monday, May 25, 2009 at 3:44 pm #
  3. Jenni wrote::

    Thankyou for posting this! You have answered some questions for me and some I didnt know I had (: Ive got some eggs from 2 blue parents and some eggs from black and splash parents. Im excited to see what I get !

    Monday, October 5, 2009 at 8:26 am #
  4. vennesa wrote::

    wow interesting, i have got my first cross bred chicks on the ground by blue australorpes and silver laced wyndottes, looks like i got a bit of a mixed bag some are all blue and others look as though they are going to be laced.
    i also some how fluked a couple of brown partriges… very srange indeed.

    Monday, October 18, 2010 at 5:57 pm #