The Cuckoo Gene

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The Cuckoo Gene

Postby boyswithchicks » Thu Nov 14, 2013 9:17 am

Hi everyone,

Haven't posted on here in ages but just had a query regarding a number of Cuckoo feathered chicks hatching from a pen of Blue and Black Leghorns. There are 5 Blue roosters with approximately 18 Black hens and 2 Blue hens. I have hatched three batches of eggs from this pen and a large number of chicks are Cuckoo in their colouring.

I am only beginning to really get to grips with poultry genetics, with the "Learn as You Go" method being the most applicable. Would anyone out there know why I am seeing this colouration in the relatively large numbers that are occurring. I would say that approximately 40% are Cuckoo.

The split is equally male and female.

In terms of the parent stock, the Blue roosters and one Blue hen came as fertile eggs but that breeders pen as far as I knew was made up of Blue and Black birds. Some Black hens and the remaining Blue hen came also as fertile eggs and I know very little about their background. The remaining Black hens were bred here from a Black Rooster and a Black Hen. The rooster in this case has quite a lot of white in his tail and is quite a striking bird.

I am not overly concerned about what has hatched, more interested in the genetics because if I was to sell these eggs as fertile, Blue or Black Leghorns and the buyer sees what I am seeing in my own flock, I am not sure that they would be that happy. As a result I have not advertised until I can get to grips with this. I suppose it may have something to do with the Blue Leghorns not breeding true but still, I would be interested to know what is happening from a genetic point of view.

TIA
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Re: The Cuckoo Gene

Postby Kracka » Thu Nov 14, 2013 11:17 am

with the Pekins - its normal to cross the Cuckoo with a Black to stop the Cuckoo colouring from fading away
and from that crossing, I thought the chances of Cuckoo vs Black chicks was 50:50
and I had it in my mind that the Cuckoo colouring was dominant (although I had heard the black chicks from this mating may not be good enough to keep in your straight black breeding pen - which implies there's more than just a straight dominant/recessive thing going on)

but from what you're saying, the Cuckoo colouring would have to be recessive?

have you got a photo of these chicks?

I've had chicks from a straight black to black Pekin mating come out with white dappling on their chest, almost reminiscent of a Mottle in the background - just wondering if these chicks are true Cuckoo or whether the colouring could be something else?
anyway, photo would help
hopefully Buzzard will spot this one & enlighten us all! :D
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Re: The Cuckoo Gene

Postby boyswithchicks » Thu Nov 14, 2013 12:57 pm

Thanks Kracka,

http://i1303.photobucket.com/albums/ag1 ... 0bb6bd.jpg

http://i1303.photobucket.com/albums/ag1 ... d4ff91.jpg


Not sure if these links will work but worth a try.

The complicated thing, (for me!) is that the chicks are coming from parents that are not Cuckoo so it is somewhat confusing. Have a look and see what you think. Happy to take more photos later and post if these are not clear enough.

Cheers.
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Re: The Cuckoo Gene

Postby boyswithchicks » Thu Nov 14, 2013 1:14 pm

:D Tried another way but can't do it!!!!
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Re: The Cuckoo Gene

Postby Kracka » Thu Nov 14, 2013 1:31 pm

I can't find my Poultry Standards book - lost somewhere in the mess of shifting office
but my understanding of Cuckoo markings is a line across the feather - actually multiple lines
they look a bit like lacing on the body - darker blue with lighter blue centres
I get that with the Blue Pekins (which wasn't what I was hoping for!)
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Re: The Cuckoo Gene

Postby buzzard » Thu Nov 14, 2013 1:37 pm

IF it is cuckoo, or barring it would have to be in the parents, you might not be able to spot it

boyswithchicks wrote:.. I would say that approximately 40% are Cuckoo.

The split is equally male and female.



this is important to know and it implies it's coming from your roosters, (if its sexlinked barring)
so a pic of male and female cuckoo chicks side by side is also important for us to see, this will able to see if they are split

in short you will have to do some test matings to try and figure out what is happening, but without anymore info then we are just guessing
take a male cuckoo chick and mate over some cuckoo hens, and wait for the results, then you will be able to see if its being inherited dominantly and sex linked if some chicks are black and those are exclusively female then you know its sex linked)
if this doesn't happen then you know you have a novel form of barring. I have heard about this in leghorns, and would be possible since some people have used whites before and what is in whites can be a bit of a surprise
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Re: The Cuckoo Gene

Postby buzzard » Thu Nov 14, 2013 1:43 pm

PS
I think I can see a blue cuckoo chick in one of the photos, so this points to these 2 genes segregating independently ie this is all rather normal if one of the males is indeed a blue cuckoo
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Re: The Cuckoo Gene

Postby boyswithchicks » Thu Nov 14, 2013 3:00 pm

Thanks Buzzard and Kracka,

I will get some photos this afternoon of the roosters for you to cast your eye over. To be honest I am not happy with them. Some are a bit "brassy" which didn't show up initially. One does seem to have a wee bit of barring in its hackles but I will let you guys decide that.

In the meantime I have this link of a male chick that is a few weeks old, in fact one week younger than the picture of the pullet chicks.

[url][URL=http://s1303.photobucket.com/user/boyswithchicks/media/IMG_1956_zps10fa57d2.jpg.html]Image[/url][/url]

Cheers.
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Re: The Cuckoo Gene

Postby buzzard » Thu Nov 14, 2013 4:26 pm

this guy looks like he is split for barring
ie he has one allele for barred and another allele for non barred
because he is dark barred (no difference between the shade of male vs females) split is a common term for being heterozygous for a particular gene
When talking about the sex linked genes, males can be split - heterozygous, but females cant be split as they only have one sex chromosome that carries the gene sites
these females are referred to as hemizygous
so this is the reason why I suggest to keep a cuckoo male and cuckoo females to pair together and then if it is barring that your dealing with, then resultant females will be either barred or not barred (cuckoo or black) because they cant be 'spilt' - theyre one or the other
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Re: The Cuckoo Gene

Postby boyswithchicks » Thu Nov 14, 2013 9:08 pm

Thanks Buzzard,

I will keep a few just for fun and see what happens. I will say this though that all the chicks that have this colour pattern are all the same shade as the chicks in the photos. None of them are varied at all. There is no noticeably lighter male for example like you would see in a Barred Rock.

Like I said before, they are quite pretty so it will be interesting to see what happens.

These birds just keep on throwing up some bizzare colours. I have just been to check on a broody who was due to hatch a clutch of eggs from this pen yesterday. All ten have hatched successfully with the expected Blues and Blacks but one is bloody brownish with faintish wild type stripes. This is a closed pen, no other bird can get anywhere near these breeders so it beats me.

Will keep you posted.
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