Author Topic: Chick Phenotype  (Read 10403 times)

John W Blehm

  • Administrator
  • Ameraucana Guru
  • *****
  • Posts: 1833
    • Fowl Stuff
Chick Phenotype
« on: June 20, 2016, 03:42:30 PM »
The more you study, the better you can evaluate your chicks at a younger age.
First here are a couple definitions from Mike Gilbert...
Quote
Phenotype?  It is simply a five dollar word to indicate what the chick or chicken looks like.   
Genotype?  It is the set of genetic factors that a certain bird carries.
I've promoted culling day-old chicks based on phenotype for a long time.  Once you figure out which chick phenotype grows into the best show quality birds you will know what to look for and save money by not broodering and feeding "rejects".  My culls/rejects are sold locally to those that just want some backyard chickens. 
"Chick Uniformity" is a term I picked up somewhere along the line.  To raise a breed and variety that is uniform when they are mature the chicks must all look like "identical twins" " as someone mentioned on The Classroom@The Coop.  Breed from the best, year after year.  I don't want to sound pessimistic, but unlike raising chickens breeding takes a lot more dedication, time and resources.  If there are birds with the characteristics you want then it can be done, but it isn't for every poultry fancier. 
The E locus alleles produce the base primary colour/patterns to which varieties are build upon.  Click on this link to learn more about the E-locus and our varieties of Ameraucanas.
Check out the KIP calculator and see what some genes do.  Read - and study - the genetics websites that we have links to and are pinned under this Breeding subforum.  Do some searches on this forum using some key words to get more input. 
Here are a links to a few other topics on chick phenotype on this forum...
http://ameraucanaalliance.org/forum/index.php?topic=108.0
http://ameraucanaalliance.org/forum/index.php?topic=531.0
http://ameraucanaalliance.org/forum/index.php?topic=417.msg3052#msg3052
« Last Edit: June 25, 2016, 11:54:06 AM by John W Blehm »

John W Blehm

  • Administrator
  • Ameraucana Guru
  • *****
  • Posts: 1833
    • Fowl Stuff
Re: Chick Phenotype
« Reply #1 on: June 23, 2016, 12:21:29 PM »
The E-locus gene "E" stands for Extended Black.  It is the most dominant of the E-locus genes and creates the most melanized (black or dark) chickens, extending black to most areas.  Some extra unknown melanizing genes may be required to make 100% black birds.  We base black, lavender and white Ameraucanas on E.  It sounds obvious to use E to produce blacks, but since besides being black E based chickens are a solid color it makes a great background to produce other solid colored chickens like lavender and white.  Both lavender and white are produced by recessive genes...lavender (lav) and recessive white (c = colorless)...so two copies of the genes are required to produce the colors.  There is also a dominant white (I), but it is not necessarily needed.
Lavender (lav) simply dilutes black to lavender (gray).  It also dilutes red/gold, but that doesn't come into play here.
Recessive white (c) inhibits black and red leaving a white bird. 
Even though mature blacks are to be 100% black, day-old chicks aren't.  They are mostly black with cream/whitish chins, throats and bellies.  This chick phenotype is often referred to as "penguin pattern".  They also may have a small cream/white spot on each cheek that some call "clown face".   
Day-old lavender chicks should look the same, except for lavender instead of black down.
Day-old recessive white chicks should look kind of yellowish/grayish, like the photo below.  Beware of unwanted modifying genes that produce more blackish day-old chicks (see photo), since they don't mature into nice "clean" white adults.
« Last Edit: June 23, 2016, 12:38:02 PM by John W Blehm »

John W Blehm

  • Administrator
  • Ameraucana Guru
  • *****
  • Posts: 1833
    • Fowl Stuff
Re: Chick Phenotype
« Reply #2 on: June 23, 2016, 01:31:10 PM »
With blacks watch out for any brown or other off color on the forehead.  Sometimes things like that aren't noticed unless you take each chick in hand and really study them.  Don't just look for black chicks with cream bellies.  Consistency or uniformity is what I look for.  If the chicks grow into the best show quality blacks than I would select for that day-old phenotype. 
Even though we are discussing the color and pattern of the chick's down remember to check the color of the pads of their feet, since shanks/legs and feet are affected by feather/down color.  You want to see some flesh colored (pinkish) skin on the pads.  E-locus genes can affect skin color and not just feather color and pattern.
« Last Edit: June 23, 2016, 01:49:27 PM by John W Blehm »

John W Blehm

  • Administrator
  • Ameraucana Guru
  • *****
  • Posts: 1833
    • Fowl Stuff
Re: Chick Phenotype
« Reply #3 on: June 23, 2016, 02:31:41 PM »
ER is called birchen and sometimes crow wing. Birchen is also the name of a color/pattern variety of chickens that is based on the E-locus birchen (ER) gene.  You can tell a birchen Ameraucana male from a silver Ameraucana male by the area known as the wing triangle.  The wing triangle is black on a birchen (aka crow wing) and white/silver on a silver (aka duckwing).  Birchen is not a recognized variety of Ameraucana, but it is the same pattern as our brown reds...the only difference is where birchen is white/silver brown red is orange/gold.  This means that our brown red variety is also based on the birchen E-locus gene.  ER may give two different adult phenotypes...with or without lacing in the breast.  We want some lacing.
The birchen/brown red pattern is normal for ER chickens without additional modifying genes.
When you add extra genes like, one copy of blue (Bl/bl+), pattern (Pg), melanotic (Ml), Columbian (Co), plus some unknown eumelanin extenders (to darken feathers in more areas) you get laced blue or the variety the APA/ABA refers to as "blue".  The one blue gene modifies black to blue/gray and the pattern gene with melanotic and Columbian create the lacing as seen in Andalusian blue.  Some laced blue chickens are based on E, but Dr. Ron Okimoto said...
(quote from Classroom @ The Coop: Blue & E/ or ER/, posted May 02, 2006)
Quote
Some of us speculated that Andalusian blue used ER instead of E because ER would be more amenable to secondary pattern genes like Pg. I recently tested some Andalusian Blues from McMurray. I had a mixed batch of chicks so I could only tell the gray ones as blues the blacks could have been something else. There were three gray chicks that produced gray chick feathers. Two were homozygous ER/ER and the third was heterozygous E/ER. My guess is that E probably causes the dark birds and that the show quality birds are probably ER.

The day-old phenotype of birchen (ER) is a pretty much a solid colored chick, without the cream/white seen in E chicks or as least with much less.
« Last Edit: January 01, 2018, 07:01:56 PM by John W Blehm »

Mike Gilbert

  • Lifetime Member
  • Ameraucana Guru
  • *****
  • Posts: 1398
    • Red Stag Acres
Re: Chick Phenotype
« Reply #4 on: June 23, 2016, 05:10:02 PM »
So that is another good reason not to be crossing blues with blacks more or less indiscriminately.   When I see somebody advertising BBS, it tells me they probably don't know what they are doing.   But all of us were in that place at one time or another.   The more you learn, the more you realize what you don't know. 
Mike Gilbert
1st John 5:11-13

John W Blehm

  • Administrator
  • Ameraucana Guru
  • *****
  • Posts: 1833
    • Fowl Stuff
Re: Chick Phenotype
« Reply #5 on: June 24, 2016, 04:53:28 PM »
The E-locus gene called recessive wheaten (ey)was originally called "yellowish-white" and that is why there is a "Y", for yellow, following the lowercase e.  Later the wheaten (eWh) gene (E-locus gene...not the variety called wheaten) was discovered and it is generally referred to as "dominant wheaten", but sometimes just "wheaten".  The current consensus is that both ey and eWh are E-locus genes, but another theory was that there was just eWh and with modifying genes it doubled for ey

Here are some quotes dealing with dominant wheaten and/or recessive wheaten...

Dr. J. Robert Smyth, Jr (1994 article p. 114):
Quote
Dominant wheaten (eWh) affectively suppresses id+ expression in the shanks and fascia, but its look-alike ey allele (recessive wheaten) has little or no effect.

KazJaps said “In Summary:”
Quote
•   eWh Dominant Wheaten suppresses id+ dermal shank & fascia pigment
•   ey Recessive Wheaten does NOT suppress id+ dermal shank & fascia pigment


Dr Ron Okimoto on E locus alleles order of dominance, and Recessive Wheaten...(quote from E-locus: Order of dominance (again!), posted August 12, 2006)...
Quote
The dominant wheaten allele has a unique mutation that separates it from e+. I haven't found a recessive wheaten allele yet. All wheaten samples that I've tested look identical to dominant wheaten. This may mean that the guys that claimed that other modifiers determined the dominance of wheaten may be correct...There probably is a recessive wheaten somewhere.
Recessive wheaten is a strange story, but Smyth has told me that he used to maintain a recessive wheaten line, and Morejohn had a Red Junglefowl line that segregated wheaten downed chicks from wild-type parents in 3:1.

Undercolour: (by Dr Okimoto)
Quote
Wheaten has a cream feather undercolor. e+ and eb have a gray feather undercolor even in the presence of Co. eWhe+ Coco+ heterozygotes have the gray feather undercolor and birds that I have that are eWheb CoCo (I crossed a New Hamp to a Columbian Wyandotte) also have the gray feather undercolor, but it is lighter and looks more silvery than gray. If you find that your birds are eWheb and they have a white or cream feather undercolor they may have melanotic. Birds with melanotic often have a white feather undercolor, but this may be an interaction with some other genes because I don't think that they all have a white undercolor.

Poultry Genetics
Quote
eWh (Dominant Wheaten)- cream day-old chicks, adult male Black Breasted Red, adult hen wheaten.

Sellers - III.  Chicken genes and comments
Quote
eWh   Dominant wheaten. Female body varies from light salmon to wheat color, some black may be present. Males are wild-type.
ey Recessive wheaten. Female: resembles dominant wheaten with more coarse black stippling on breast and back. Males are wild type.

Henk Meijers says…
Quote
Finally "Wheaten" symbol EWh, upper case because it was assumed dominant to the "partridges", but since that fact is doubtful (a further allele "recessive" wheaten has become obsolete) it is sometimes written lowercase. Wheaten is the most suitable allele for red expression and the least suitable for black expression. The hens are mostly wheaten colored with little to no black markings on neck and back. The black tail is also prone to lose color. The salmon breast color is relocated to shoulder and back. Roosters look wildtype but have less hackle and saddle striping, and mostly light underfluff. Melanizers however could mask those traits.

The Classroom @ The Coop
Quote
Mature dominant wheaten may have white/light undercolor/underfluff while recessive wheaten may have slate/dark undercolor.

KazJaps also said…
Quote
The ey tester line has slate-greyish undercolour, similar to e+ wild-type…and…

And of course there could be other modifiers that change the undercolour (ie unidentified eumelanin restrictors removing slate undercolour, other modifiers adding/enhancing slate undercolour).

KazJaps
Quote
But what is certain is that the ey Recessive Wheaten line has a different MC1R DNA sequence to eWh Dominant Wheaten allele (Thr143Ala).

Also check out the topic W/BW Chick Down.
« Last Edit: January 07, 2017, 02:00:43 PM by John W Blehm »

John W Blehm

  • Administrator
  • Ameraucana Guru
  • *****
  • Posts: 1833
    • Fowl Stuff
Re: Chick Phenotype
« Reply #6 on: June 24, 2016, 05:50:40 PM »
Our wheaten (and variations including blue wheaten & splash wheaten) and buff varieties of Ameraucana are based on the E-locus wheaten gene ey or eWh...without DNA testing we may not know for sure.  Understanding the phenotype differences associated with each may get us very close to knowing.

I look for the small stripe on the top of the heads of day-old wheaten chicks.  Maybe the intensity of this small line relates to the black in female's tails, male's muffs, etc...Just another question.  Mike Gilbert added...
Quote
I believe it signifies a reservoir of eumelanin pigment, or the genetic ability to produce eumelanin.  This is the pigment that makes the black color in the feathers.  It is needed for the tail and wings of wheaten females.

Other than the head stripe I don't look for any other markings, but other breeders hatch wheaten chicks with stripes on their backs, besides the head stipe good results.  Mike Gilbert said...
Quote
If they have a few dark markings the females will tend to have better tail and wing color.  But sometimes along with that you get a darker shade of wheaten female, and I always preferred the lighter shade.  Therein is the challenge of breeding wheaten Ameraucana females; light creamy top color while maintaining sufficient black in the wing and tail feathers.  It's a wonderful color but difficult to achieve.

Barbara Campbell (and others of us) would concentrate on a color/pattern characteristic and see improvement while another area's color/pattern would go down hill. 

Here are a couple other quotes from Mike about wheaten chick phenotype...
Quote
Years ago I thought wheaten and blue wheaten chicks should be culled if they had a dark spot or two in the chick down.  Turns out they are the ones with the best tail and wing color if they are females.  Live and learn.
Quote
Many years ago John Wunderlich, a renowned poultry judge and breeder, sent me (unsolicited by me) a setting of eggs from his Wheaten Old English Games.   Most of the eggs hatched, but I was disappointed that they all had spots and striping, not only on the head but also the back.  But I grew them out, and found the males had nice clean hackles and the females had very good wing and tail color.   So from that experience I changed my mind about spots and striping in wheaten chick down.  I don't think it has anything to do with the hackle striping.  Conversely, we all know you can get male hackle striping from raising nice white downed chicks with nary a spot or stripe.

Other than black stripes the most noticeable difference I've seen is that there are two color phases...one more silver and the other more gold.  Which is right?  There again I don't know, but it may affect the under-color of adult birds.  It would be nice if breeders were to identify some chicks and see which produced the better feather color/pattern.
 
With buff chicks select for those with buff heads, and not just buff bodies with whitish heads.  I believe these will mature into bird with the best buff undercolor (underfluff). Also buff chicks should only be buff without any dark markings.
« Last Edit: June 25, 2016, 11:59:00 AM by John W Blehm »

John W Blehm

  • Administrator
  • Ameraucana Guru
  • *****
  • Posts: 1833
    • Fowl Stuff
Re: Chick Phenotype
« Reply #7 on: June 24, 2016, 09:38:52 PM »
Wildtype (e+) is also sometimes referred to as duckwing and normal.  It is the E-locus of Red Junglefowl, which are the wild chickens domestic chickens were bred from.  Our silver (looks white to me) variety of Ameraucanas are based on wildtype (e+).  The "+", after the "e" means wildtype and it appears after other gene symbols too that are wildtype, like p+, s+ and b+.  Our silvers are silver (S) at the S-locus and that is about the only difference they have to wildtype color/pattern, which is gold (s+).  So if you replace the gold (reds, oranges, etc.) on a Red Junglefowl with white (silver), it's color and pattern should be the same as a silver Ameraucana.
The "chipmunk pattern" then on a day-old silver Ameraucana should be the same as a that of a Red Junglefowl.  Only the colors are different.  Note the clean lines, on the arrow, on the head of the Junglefowl chicks and select silver Ameraucana chicks as close to that look as possible.  The same applies to the eye stripe and any other designs you see in the pattern.
« Last Edit: June 25, 2016, 09:55:33 AM by John W Blehm »

John W Blehm

  • Administrator
  • Ameraucana Guru
  • *****
  • Posts: 1833
    • Fowl Stuff
Re: Chick Phenotype
« Reply #8 on: June 25, 2016, 10:49:03 AM »
Many genes influence shank color.  Adult shank/leg color is what is described in the standard, but when chicks hatch their leg color is not necessarily the same as it will be at maturity. 
Wheaten based chicks start out with flesh colored (pinkish) shanks that darken over the first few months. 
Wild type based chicks start with shanks that show just a bit of darkness. 
Extended black and birchen based chicks have dark legs when they hatch.

The Classroom @ The Coop, Leg Colour Genetics
Quote
This is a very simple explanation on the genetics. Unfortunately, there is much more, as "plumage colour genes" can influence shank colour significantly. Another major influence on epidermal pigment shank colour is the E (Extended Black) gene, and to a lessor degree - ER (Birchen). These genes enhance black extension on to the epidermal layer.
Quote
Shank colour may change from day-old to adult hood. For example, W+ (White skin) and id+ (dermal pigment) is not usually expressed in day-old chicks.
« Last Edit: June 25, 2016, 10:58:28 AM by John W Blehm »

Holly Frosch

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 37
Re: Chick Phenotype
« Reply #9 on: February 08, 2017, 02:25:11 PM »
ER is called birchen and sometimes crow wing. Birchen is also the name of a color/pattern variety of chickens that is based on the E-locus birchen (ER) gene.  You can tell a birchen Ameraucana male from a silver Ameraucana male by the area known as the wing triangle.
When you add extra genes like, one copy of blue (Bl/bl+), pattern (Pg), melanotic (Ml), maybe Columbian (Co), plus some unknown eumelanin extenders (to darken feathers in more areas) you get laced blue or the variety the APA/ABA refers to as "blue".  The one blue gene modifies black to blue/gray and the pattern gene with melanotic and Columbian added the lacing as seen in Andalusian blue.  Some laced blue chickens are based on E, but Dr. Ron Okimoto said...
(quote from Classroom @ The Coop: Blue & E/ or ER/, posted May 02, 2006)
Quote
Some of us speculated that Andalusian blue used ER instead of E because ER would be more amenable to secondary pattern genes like Pg. I recently tested some Andalusian Blues from McMurray. I had a mixed batch of chicks so I could only tell the gray ones as blues the blacks could have been something else. There were three gray chicks that produced gray chick feathers. Two were homozygous ER/ER and the third was heterozygous E/ER. My guess is that E probably causes the dark birds and that the show quality birds are probably ER.
I like this thread, John.  :)

Questions:
Is your opinion that the difference between a properly laced blue and a silver laced would be the eumelanin enhancers (and Bl, certainly)? Or perhaps the blues are lacking a restrictor such as Db?

What do you think of the role of Co in shafting? I've come up with several individuals that are laced to varying degrees out of our brown reds (and crosses to black). F2s from crosses to black range from no shafting to seeing that center "explode" into lacing.

Mike Gilbert

  • Lifetime Member
  • Ameraucana Guru
  • *****
  • Posts: 1398
    • Red Stag Acres
Re: Chick Phenotype
« Reply #10 on: February 08, 2017, 05:12:11 PM »
Holly, if you mean Silver Laced as in Wyandottes, the Silver Laced pattern is based on eb (brown) rather than E or Er.     You can find the combination of genes that make up silver laced and Andalusian blue on the Sellers website.     http://sellers.kippenjungle.nl/page2.html#t16   
Co is an incompletely dominant gene, and as such would probably do more to the brown red pattern than just create shafting in my opinion.  Perhaps one copy rather than two might be a potential cause of shafting.   Shafting has not been really studied all that much as there is little commercial value in doing so. 
« Last Edit: February 08, 2017, 05:17:34 PM by Mike Gilbert »
Mike Gilbert
1st John 5:11-13

Holly Frosch

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 37
Re: Chick Phenotype
« Reply #11 on: February 08, 2017, 06:19:50 PM »
Thank you, Mike!

I had intended laced as in Sebright, based on ER. I see via the link you provided that the difference is, indeed, Db. They also have the base of Andalusian blue indicated as E. There seems to be lack of consensus on E vs. ER, perhaps due to the c. 1990 Carefoot paper. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00071669208417468?journalCode=cbps20
« Last Edit: February 08, 2017, 06:26:29 PM by Holly Frosch »

John W Blehm

  • Administrator
  • Ameraucana Guru
  • *****
  • Posts: 1833
    • Fowl Stuff
Re: Chick Phenotype
« Reply #12 on: February 08, 2017, 08:58:12 PM »
ER is called birchen and sometimes crow wing. Birchen is also the name of a color/pattern variety of chickens that is based on the E-locus birchen (ER) gene.  You can tell a birchen Ameraucana male from a silver Ameraucana male by the area known as the wing triangle.
When you add extra genes like, one copy of blue (Bl/bl+), pattern (Pg), melanotic (Ml), maybe Columbian (Co), plus some unknown eumelanin extenders (to darken feathers in more areas) you get laced blue or the variety the APA/ABA refers to as "blue".  The one blue gene modifies black to blue/gray and the pattern gene with melanotic and Columbian added the lacing as seen in Andalusian blue.  Some laced blue chickens are based on E, but Dr. Ron Okimoto said...
(quote from Classroom @ The Coop: Blue & E/ or ER/, posted May 02, 2006)
Quote
Some of us speculated that Andalusian blue used ER instead of E because ER would be more amenable to secondary pattern genes like Pg. I recently tested some Andalusian Blues from McMurray. I had a mixed batch of chicks so I could only tell the gray ones as blues the blacks could have been something else. There were three gray chicks that produced gray chick feathers. Two were homozygous ER/ER and the third was heterozygous E/ER. My guess is that E probably causes the dark birds and that the show quality birds are probably ER.
I like this thread, John.  :)

Questions:
Is your opinion that the difference between a properly laced blue and a silver laced would be the eumelanin enhancers (and Bl, certainly)? Or perhaps the blues are lacking a restrictor such as Db?

What do you think of the role of Co in shafting? I've come up with several individuals that are laced to varying degrees out of our brown reds (and crosses to black). F2s from crosses to black range from no shafting to seeing that center "explode" into lacing.

When it comes to shafting I've never considered Columbian (Co) as a culprit.  Silver females are not Columbian, yet often show a lot of shafting.  Outcrossing silvers with blacks can eliminate/cover a lot of shafting and I assume eumelanin enhancers/extenders that come from pure black "E" birds blacken the shafts.  With outcrosses, of course, come problems also.  I believe those same or related enhancing/extending genes add more eumelanin/black to areas that should be silver/white. 
Your (and my) brown red to black outcross should bring along the genes needed to cover shafting from the "E" side of the mating and it sounds like some of your F2 birds show that.  Then breed from the best.  Hatch many and cull as needed to extract the genes needed for the phenotype desired.

Tailfeathers

  • College
  • ****
  • Posts: 378
  • Breeder & Exhibitor of WBS Ameraucanas since 2008
Re: Chick Phenotype
« Reply #13 on: February 09, 2017, 02:27:44 AM »
Note the clean lines, on the arrow, on the head of the Junglefowl chicks and select silver Ameraucana chicks as close to that look as possible.  The same applies to the eye stripe and any other designs you see in the pattern.

John, feel free to delete this after you see it but I thought I'd make a comment here that may be helpful.  I breed and show Welsummers, and while I'm absolutely clueless when it comes to the e+,  ey or eWh, or any of that stuff, I can tell you that I can see the Welsummers at hatch with 100% accuracy based on their headcap and eyeliner.

If the chick has a well-defined, sharp headcap and eye-liners it's a female.  If the headcap is more fuzzy and less defined and missing eye-liners it's a male.  Perhaps that would hold true with those Silvers and might be helpful to someone.
God Bless,

R. E. Van Blaricome
Seek Ye first the Kingdom of God, and all His Righteousness
- then these things shall be added unto you (Matt. 6:33)

Cesar Villegas

  • Associate
  • ***
  • Posts: 199
Re: Chick Phenotype
« Reply #14 on: February 09, 2017, 07:51:25 PM »
John, Under reply #1 you posted a picture of bad white coloring chicks. What makes them bad? Wont they feather out white?