Mottled Wyandotte chicks feathering up nicely

Breeding Mottled Chickens

Genetics of Mottled Chickens

Black Mottled Wyandotte
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Black Mottled Wyandotte

Mottling is a simple recessive which means a bird needs two copies of the gene to express it or show the gene and it can carry a single copy, or be a “carrier” and not show it.  Other simple recessives include single comb and yellow skin. Some carriers of certain  simple recessive genes can give little clues that they are carriers and look slightly different to non-carriers but you have to look quite hard and know what you are looking for.

The Mottle

Mottling is a white tip to feathers. Usually the area behind the white is intensely black and on a black bird this shows up as not having green sheen.  As birds age mottling usually develops bigger white spots and on more feathers.

tricolours 2008 049c
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Statistical Expectations of Breeding Mottled Chickens

The genetics and statistics applies to all mottled poultry; including all colours of mottled (blue, black, chocolate, lavender, red, buff), millefleur, spangled OEG, porcelain, speckled or tolbunt.

Mating Mottled Offspring Non-Mottled Offspring, carriers  Non-Mottled Offspring, Non-carriers 
Mottled to mottled 100% 0% 0%
Mottled to carrier 50% 50% 0%
Mottled to non-carrier 0% 100% 0%
Carrier to carrier 25% 50% 25%
Carrier to non- carrier 0% 50% 50%
Non-carrier to non-carrier 0% 0% 100%

Mottled Carriers

Carriers usually show no mottling but can have the odd mottled feather on the body or  haze of small mottles around the head.

Varieties of Mottled

Any colour  or pattern of chicken can be mottled; all they need is two doses of the mottled gene, i.e. homozygotes.  Even white which will hardly show the mottle can be mottled and breed accordingly. Tolbunts are laced or sometimes other patterns plus mottles.

Young Laced Tolbunt
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Young Laced Tolbunt
Tolbunt Wyandotte hen
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Barred Tolbunt Wyandotte hen

 Mottled Carriers

Usually mottled is considered a completely recessive gene which means it doesn’t show at all when heterozygous and the bird simply “carries” the mottled gene.  Sometimes  a bird that is a carrier, sometimes referred to as split for mottling will have some white tips to feathers, white frosting around the head or even largely white feathers especially on the wings.

Spangled Wyandotte cockerel carrying the mottled gene showing the odd white feather tip.
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Spangled Wyandotte cockerel carrying the mottled gene showing the odd white feather tip.