Laced Wyandotte Colours

Laced Colours

Article from  the Laced Wyandotte Club

Gold Laced Bantam Cockerel (cock-breeder/exhibition male) Grant Brereton.
Gold Laced Bantam Cockerel (cock-breeder/exhibition male) Pic from Grant Brereton.
Gold Laced Bantam Hen (cock-breeder/exhibition male) Pic from Grant Brereton.
  Gold Laced Bantam Hen (cock-breeder/exhibition male) Pic from Grant Brereton.

As everyone knows we have four standard (laced) colours: Silver Laced, Gold Laced. Blue Laced and Buff Laced.

silver laced
silver laced

Look carefully at the names. Let’s imagine you are a complete newcomer to laced Wyandottes.  So I will explain what a Silver Laced looks like.  It is a pure white bird with a black edge to its feathers, which gives a sort of black scalloped pattern all over the body of the bird.  Got that?  I’m sure you can now work out what a gold laced bird looks like for yourself!  That’s right it’s a gold bird with a black edge to its feathers, which gives a black scalloped pattern all over the body of the bird. …..and?  No, just because a silver laced has a white body, gold laced isn’t always gold bodied!  Newcomers!  Why do they always think like that, what’s up with them? Daft? No imagination? Or what?  Why don’t they get it without being told, that it’s only the males that have a gold body; the females have to have a dark reddish mahogany brown (often so dark that the black lacing doesn’t show in the light of exhibition halls) body otherwise they’d be shafty.

Blue Laced Wyandotte Cockerel
Blue Laced Wyandotte Cockerel

Now we’ve got gold and silver laced worked there’s no chance you’ll know what a blue laced looks like.  Well, you might think if gold and silver laced have bodies of those colours then blue must have a blue body with a black edge; sounds very pretty.  Wrong. …Again.  Ok, now you’ve seen there is no logic in the system have a go at buff laced…..

Lovely buff laced hen
Lovely buff laced hen.

I am not usually one for looking at what is done on the continent and thinking it’s better than what we do here, but in this instance it is. 1) they give colours a name which tells you the colour of the feather edge and body. From one variety you can (more or less) work out what any of the other colours will look like.  2) They recognise the colours’ genetic make up and put on classes accordingly – for males and females.

Time for a change?

I think we can probably carry on muddling by, for a while, on the names, the confusion comes out in the wash, sort of, even if we actually aren’t all agreed on the colours of buff and blue laced with the consequence of gnashing of teeth after the judging.

Underlying the colours of laced Wyandottes are a few well known colour genes. Gold and its converse, Silver; Blue and its homozygote (blue splashed) White; Dominant White, which makes black or blue go white and  Mahogany which adds a rich reddish dark brown to gold.

Gold laced breeding cockerel
Gold laced pullet breeding cockerel

Quick explanation for how the genes work for anyone new to the subject

Gold is the normal colour of a chicken, Silver is a mutation which causes gold to be removed, which leaves no colour, i.e. white, instead.  Blue, comes from a gene called Blue, that distorts black pigment granules which makes them look blue.  But blue is really only the halfway house effect of the gene because when you get a double dose (homozygous) of the blue gene any black on the bird is nearly completely removed and results in the black areas being white with odd splodges of grey and black (commonly know as splash when talking about the whole bird.  Dominant White, wipes out black at a singe stroke leaving those areas white and it reduces the intensity of gold or red, a double dose of Dominant White still gets rid of black but makes gold and red even paler.. Mahogany is (generally agreed to be) the gene that puts the red into Rhode Island Reds.

Blue silver laced pullet was shown at the National
Blue silver laced pullet was shown at the National

These are the colours we actually have:

  • Silver Laced which possibly could be called Black Laced Silver/White we are all agreed on what that and what class it goes in,
  • Blue Laced Silver/White  is a just single step variation and is a non-standard laced at the moment.- but just to confuse the pants off everyone someone decided to call them “violettes”!
  • Gold Laced (Black Laced Gold) would be more consistent with the other names) is where the problems start.  The cock breeders are truly gold – the cock breeding females are gold too, are most attractive and look like they are what the standard seems to ask for as a Gold Laced female.
  • Red Laced or Black Laced Red  is a better name for our Gold Laced Pullet breeders. These have they the addition of a double dose of Mahogany – making the bird the dark mahogany colour we usually see on the bench, their cockerels too are dark, so dark the lacing hardly shows.  These pullet breeders are no more “golds”  than RIR are Rhode Island Golds  Like the RIR’s are called red our gold lace pullets look red, are genetically red and should be called red and given classes as Reds – how can we carry on showing them as gold? If shaftiness is an issue let’s adjust the standard slightly to accommodate the fact that it’s virtually impossible to avoid shaftiness completely on a gold.
  • Blue Laced Reds, complete with their double dose of Mahogany, is what we show as Blue Laced.  Why are they not called red when they are red.  (Oddly, the standard sounds like it is asking for birds a shade or two lighter than those we usually see on the bench that would mean a single dose of mahogany, which of course wouldn’t breed true, which given blue doesn’t breed true either means that mating two of these intermediately red blue laced would give produce only 1 in 4 of the correct coloured offspring.)
  • Occasionally one sees Blue Laced Gold, the background the same colour as Gold Laced cock breeders, these are bred in other countries, from photos of the Aussie birds I’ve seen this is colour of their Blue Laced and is attractive.
  • Anyone who sees the Buff Laced with their white lacing on a dark red body can’t help but wonder which bit is buff?  These are usually the result of mating two Blue Laced Reds.  The double dose of blue gene gives the white feather edge but has little effect on red.  Surely these must be White Laced Reds? Why don’t we face up to the fact that is what they are? *
  • The same double dose of blue on a gold bird gives a White Laced Gold/Buff Laced which really is a buffish colour A similar effect comes from dominant white but that does dilute red and gold so they will never produce the white lacing on such a dark red background gives a more buff colour than a double dose of blue.*

* Sometimes birds have white edges to their feathers produced by the dominant white gene, this has more effect on the red or gold – the latter actually becomes a shade of buff (yippee! At last the elusive buff!) the white laced gold really could be called a white laced buff.

There is the possibility some of the birds called citroen. Lavender Laced Golds and Silvers are probably on someone’s breeding horizon. So there is plenty of scope for a bit of fun in a non-standard class

The current status quo of classes and colours seems to have come about by accident rather than design, it isn’t logical, it’s fantastically misleading, it even confuses judges and exhibitors alike, it’s out of step with most of the rest of the world and takes no account of the increased knowledge we have about breeding and colour genetics. So let’s apply some common sense to the whole thing and call the birds the colours they really are and put on classes accordingly.

The Relationship between Colours, Genes and Names of Varieties of Laced Wyandottes

From the Laced Wyandotte Newsletter

After exhibiting a blue silver laced pullet in the non standard classes at the 2002 National I have been asked by many people how the bird was bred.  She was actually an expected by-product of trying to improve my blues, golds and buffs by using a silver in the line.  Sod’s law meant that the best one I bred came out as a non-standard!  But now it’s there I am quite sold on the colour scheme and it’s attracted a lot of interest from others who have bred it previously or seen it.  There are many routes to blue silver.  If you have blues or buffs and silvers it is easy to get there in a few generations.  The colour intensification caused by the Mahogany gene, which is seen in gold (pullet breeders), some buff and most blue laced, is the main problem because, if present, it causes reddening of the silver.  Obviously if the colour becomes accepted and popular, blue silver laced will follow the same standard as the current silvers with distinctly different cock-breeder and pullet-breeder strains.

Laced Wyandotte Colours

I have drawn up this table as I thought it may help anyone contemplating crossing different colours to know which genes are involved in the make up of the different laced varieties or it may provoke thought regarding the names of the colours we show, especially now that we are trying out the new blue silver colour.

The Names Aren’t Logical

It would be helpful if we had a system for naming our laced birds that describes the colours they really are. The current naming of colours doesn’t reflect the colour or the genetics of some birds, but rather inconsistently can be describing either the ground or the lace colour, so discussions about developing new colours and subsequently naming them is not straightforward.   On the continent the varieties of laced Wyandottes are named systematically, if a little unimaginatively, describing both the lace colour and the background.  They clearly differentiate between gold and red, unlike us in the UK where we pretend that gold and red are both gold!  See the table below for the difference between gold laced pullet–breeders and cock-breeders.

*C/B = Cock Breeder, P/B = Pullet Breeder  D/M Double mated i.e. exhibition males and females are bred from separate strains. S/M= Single Mated (at the current time) N/S Non standard. Potential other

laced colours: lavender and chocolate in silver, gold and red varieties, white or gold laced black which are not truly laced but genetically similar to Silver Sussex.   

The genetics of the real colours of laced Wyandottes