Time to Restore Our Utility Poultry (T.R.O.U.P.) in the U.K.
Poultry Genetics
The problems and interesting facts about breeding poultry
  • Egg Colour

  • is determined by the genetics of the parents

    The genes involved are unlikely to be in a simple relationship but some basic principles can be seen. If one breeds birds with white eggs to those with brown then the pullets produced lay a variety of tinted eggs. It is possible that there are factors for amount of colour - the white layer has none of the extra colour factors and a dark egg layer has most extra factors. It is also possible that there is an inhibitor factor as well to inhibit colouring. (has anyone got better research results for this that we can include?)

    It is known that the colour is sex linked - i.e. that the father is the most important determinant for the colour of the eggs in the next generation.

    Therefore your cockerel/ drake is the most important bird in controlling and improving your egg colour in the future.

    The other very important factor is yourself - you chose the eggs that are hatched - you control the quality of the next generation.
  • only hatch eggs that are of a good size for the breed
  • never hatch eggs that are the wrong colour for the breed
  • if you have a number of birds laying roughly the right colour - choose the best and be hard with your selections
  • if you have eggs that are not correct replace the breeding cockerel with one hatched from the correct colour and size

  • Every time you hatch (or if using broody hens allow to be hatched) chicks /ducklings that are from eggs that are not right for the breed - come from hens that are not productive - etc you are playing a part in the demise of utility strains in this country. The future of utility poultry lies in all our hands - every one of us

      Chickens:
      White :- Leghorns; Minorca
      Mid Brown - Rhode Island Red; Orpington; Wyandotte; Sussex:
      Dark Brown - marans; welsumer; Barnevelder
      Blue - Araucana; Cream Legbar
    WHITE :

    If you have a white egg laying breed and you are getting some creamy eggs there are several actions you can take:

  • do not hatch any of the creamy eggs
  • replace the cockerel with one hatched from a white egg
  • BLUE
  • The blue egg colour of the Araucana is a dominant gene - so when the Araucana is crossed with another breed - the female offspring will always lay blue or tinted eggs
  • This might be useful for the immediate future while the Araucana is not a particularly eggy breed these days but the demand for blue eggs at farmers markets for example is rising fast.
    - By crossing with a white egg layer from a really good laying strain it may be possible to produce a hybrid layer pullet with a good blue egg.
    - This would allow breeders to produce a much larger number of blue egg laying pullets for the laying market;
    - allow the best pure breed hens (most eggs of the required colour)to be kept in the pure breeding units
    - and increase the value of the cockerels bred from good blue eggs for hybrid production as well as pure breed lines
    - The cross bred pullets would not be for breeding from but by working hard at the same time to produce better and better parent stock each offspring hatch should improve.

      -one problem may be if we cannot get a way to sex link the chicks as well, then the cost of the pullet will be high especially as the cockerels will have no breeding value and should not be sold on.
      -What we do not want to do is compound past errors by flooding the pet market with hybrids of dubious value as breeding stock.

      A suggestion I found (from The coop genetics message board)is that the blue eggshell color may be influenced by the rate of lay. The chemical that colors the blue eggshell is a compound synthesized by the liver. If that synthesis is slow, a high rate of lay may mean that lesser amounts of that color is available for each individual egg. The rate of lay might be a trait that works against the blue eggshell color.

      Another part of teh blue egg production is that the blue porphyrin is throughout the shell and therefore must be continuously added as the shell forms, not just at the end when the shell is already complete as with the brown colouring. So if there is a limited supply of the blue eggshell pigment (due to rate of synthesis limitations), a high rate of lay could result in a lighter eggshell.
      The other very important part of this scenario is that we need Araucana breeders to start keeping simple records of the numbers of eggs their birds lay (hopefully with some information about the colour of the eggs) Personally I am not much interested in the tufts; muff etc - although there is strong evidence that the pea comb is genetically linked to the blue egg which is of interest - see the Araucana page for more details

    Haven't done the ducks yet - all information gratefully received

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    This site is being created and maintained by
    Jill Bowis of Kintaline Poultry and Waterfowl Centre, Benderloch, OBAN Argyll PA37 1QS Scotland
    01631 720223
    for the utility poultry breeders everywhere
    Any useful information you have for the site is gratefully received
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