Understanding poultry breeders terms
Traditional poultry-breeders have a mysterious language which I am convinced is designed to confuse the outsider and newcomer, Eventually I managed to get a scientific and simple interpretation of how poultry-breeding terminology related to the reality of poultry genetics. To share my discoveries I wrote articles for various clubs and magazines. I am putting them here where I hope they may be of interest and help to others.
None of this is exactly self–explanatory; don’t expect any breeding terms will be a representation of what happens in practice. Many Wyandotte exhibitors and breeders use these terms – so it helps to have an idea of what they mean. The inheritance of colours and patterns surprises many new breeders.
All this means is, in order to produce exhibition quality cockerels and pullets in certain varieties one has to have two separate strains; one which breeds exhibition males and the other exhibition females. In the case of Laced, Black and Partridge Wyandottes the two strains are really completely different varieties, The strains are given the names cock breeders and pullet breeders. A correct exhibition trio is all smoke and mirrors…a male from the cock breeder strain and females from the pullets breeder strain …their would offspring would be rubbish – neither one thing nor another. Contrary to some people’s expectation both strains produce the normal quantities of male and female offspring but only one sex from each is of any use for showing.
Pullet Breeders or Cock Breeders?
The two strains of Partridge Wyandottes are examples of the difference between cock breeders and pullet breeders. For the exhibition pullets to have the required distinct fine pencilling they are homozygous for the pattern gene. Pullet breeding cockerels display this gene by having a breast flecked with red – this makes them unsuitable for exhibition. The exhibition male, has to have a absolutely solid black breast – the cock breeding females that produce this characteristic show no pencilling. Another feature of the exhibition Partridge male is lemon yellow hackles; this is produced by the strain carrying a single dose of the recessive white gene. The Silver Pencilled Wyandottes are also bred from two strains like the Partridge, in order to get the solid breast on males and fine pencilling on the females.
Sex Linked Gold and Silver
Whatever you remember about human X and Y chromosomes making men and women, and sex linked examples being haemophilia where it gets expressed in makes. Forget the whole thing; chickens have Z and W chromosome instead and the male and female are to all intents and purposes the other way round!
Males have a pair of identical sex chromosomes, which are called Z – so they have ZZ, and the female has a dissimilar pair, Z and W. The genes that are located on the male chromosomes (Z) are called sex-linked. This effect of this is that a sex linked gene, which is only located on the Z gene, such as silver, can be passed by a cockerel to both female and male offspring. Pullets can only pass the sex-linked gene on to their male offspring. Sex-linked colours (silver and gold) in pullets is totally controlled by the cockerel. “Impure” silver cockerels have one silver gene and one gold gene so are able to sire both (silver) pencilled and (gold) partridge pullets. Barring is also a sex-linked gene.