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Silver White Gene in Large Fowl White Rocks
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katz0556@yahoo.com

Below is a excellent thread from Poultry Connection on the silver white gene. We have selected this blackish down color on our large fowl chicks for 18 years. I have not seen it on our leghorn or white rock bantam chicks. It has helped us to mix the chicks with the blackish slate color like a barred rock chick with our normal yellow down colored white rock large fowl chicks. This is some good reading even if the lines spilled over onto my page. The pictures of my white rock bantam trio shows what shade of  yellow leg color you can have on old hens. These females are between two and three years old. The ckl is from this years hatch. The white leghorn ckl is this years and the hen is his aunt that is for years old. All her chicks have super yellow legs. That you must select to have top type and color in rocks and leghrons.

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Silver gene

 
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dakers



Joined: 11 May 2006
Posts: 39

PostPosted: Thu Jan 24, 2008 6:40 pm    Post subject: Silver gene Reply with quote

How about some discussion to educate me further on the "silver gene". My white plymouth rock chicks are often grayish yellow. I've come to know this is desirable, & is a sign of the silver gene. From what I've heard, it's the bright yellow chicks that have more tendency to turn brassy or not be as bright white as the gray chicks. I've seen some white birds that turn yellow with too much sun or yellow feed, like Purina Show Chow. My white rocks don't turn yellow no matter how much of either of those things. In talking with other breeders, this is attributed to the "silver gene".

What experiences/info do you have to share on this topic?

Doug
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moo



Joined: 30 May 2005
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Location: Spokane Washington

PostPosted: Thu Jan 24, 2008 8:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My white wyandotte hens are silver and my cock is normal white. It seems that most of the chicks from that cross are silvers, with a few being white. Paul Ashbrook told me that when you keep crossing silvers together, you will start to get more black showing up, thats why you should always have a white in the breeding pen. In my breeder wyandottes it is easy to tell which birds are silver and which are not in the summer, the whites are almost always brassy and the silvers aren't.
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katschicks



Joined: 12 Sep 2002
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Location: Conway Mo.

PostPosted: Thu Jan 24, 2008 8:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dominate white bred to dominate white produces white. Recessive white can throw off colored white birds. Silver is not white. Good luck. Rog
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micofwis



Joined: 02 Sep 2003
Posts: 198

PostPosted: Thu Jan 24, 2008 9:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Doug, the silver gene breeders refer to is S, a sex-linked gene. Wild type is gold, designated s (small s). The mutation is silver (large S), which is dominant (not dominate) over gold. All female chickens are either silver or gold, as females carry only copy of those particular genes. Males carry two copies of silver, two copies of gold, or one of each. It is thought that birds carrying the silver gene, as opposed to the gold gene, will stay whiter. There are other genes that help with "whiteness", including barring, blue, both dominant AND recessive white, etc.. Your Wyandottes and Rocks are recessive white, and MAYBE dominant white as well. They are inherited from different alleles. Recessive white breeds true, unless crossed with colored birds. The gene for recessive white does a great job of masking red (pheomelanin pigment), but sometimes leaves a few flecks of gray or black. Dominant white gene masks black (eumelanin pigment) very well, but does a lousy job of preventing red. Neither dominant white nor recessive white are sex linked. Does that answer your question?

Mike, the Ameraucana guy from Wisconsin
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dakers



Joined: 11 May 2006
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2008 7:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I do have a partially barred feather once in a while, too. Regarding the gray chicks, over the past couple of years, I've given them a special toe punch to ID them as adults. Assuming type is equal to other matings, can you overdo it in breeding for the gray chicks?
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Kirk Keene



Joined: 13 Sep 2002
Posts: 62
Location: Southern Illinois

PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2008 9:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is a conversation I've had with Gary Underwood on several occasions, as most of us showing White birds seek the silver gene to some degree. My observation (in White Rock bantams) is that the siver gene does give you a phenotypically bright White bird. However, there seems to be some correlation with the gene responsible for pigment color on the shanks (meaning the bright yellow of the shank seems to be muted on a siver-gened bird). While Gary says there should be no connection between the two, there does indeed seem to be something to this. Yes, I am very aware that feed greatly influences shank (and bill) color, but this seems to be completely independant from that. I try to ply the middle of the road with my show birds, as I want a nice, bright White but refuse to give up a bright yellow shank as well. While I personally struggle to understand genetics at the scientific level, all I know is what I have seen from breeding White Rock bantams for 29 years and observing the results.

Last edited by Kirk Keene on Fri Jan 25, 2008 12:13 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Bill McGee



Joined: 16 Feb 2003
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Location: Sparks NV

PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2008 12:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

KIRK - While I don't want to get off on another color, I agree with you that there IS a correlation between feather color, in your case silver/white & beak, leg color.

I've experienced the same thing in yellow leg Blacks, where there is a distinct correlation between undercolor & beak/leg color. It's also been acquired from observation/experience & not from genetic explanation
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Kirk Keene



Joined: 13 Sep 2002
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Location: Southern Illinois

PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2008 12:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bill:

I had forgotten about the correlation between shank/bill color and black plumage on yellow-legged birds. I bred Black Rock bantams for several years (and yes, a few Black Cochin bantams) and it seemed to be a constant up-hill battle between the two. Good yellow legs meant white undercolor (mostly on the base of the tail on Black Rock males), while the preferred undercolor seemed to go hand in hand with dark legged birds.
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moo



Joined: 30 May 2005
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Location: Spokane Washington

PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2008 12:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In my white wyandottes, I have seen no difference in leg color between the birds with silver and the birds with out silver. But it could just be my white birds, everyones lines are different.
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Bill McGee



Joined: 16 Feb 2003
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Location: Sparks NV

PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2008 2:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

KIRK - exactly - There is other "observed" correlations with Black Cochins.
MOST, not all, chicks can be sexed at a very young age (before combs color up on males). Pullet's beaks get darker from the day they hatch, while males tend to stay about the same
The amount of yellow down they have when hatched is a great indicator of adult plummage color. A dark downed chick will be dark (undercolor, beak,eye & sometimes, face) as an adult..

I have read that the "old timers" have claimed that dark (gray) downed white chicks were always the best whites. If I remember right, Fred Jeffrey's wrote something about that in his book Bantam Chickens & there have been articles in the ABA yearbook by different breeders indicating the same.
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dakers



Joined: 11 May 2006
Posts: 39

PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2008 2:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good info. I haven't noticed lighter leg color developing from the gray chicks, however, I've also fed them lots of Purina Show Chow for the first 5 months or so. The Show Chow is a yellow colored feed due to Taegetes (marigold) extract.
Doug
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pips&peeps



Joined: 28 Oct 2007
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Location: Newman Lake, WA

PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2008 7:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As a novice white ameraucana breeder, last year being my first, I noticed that the grey downed or champagne downed chicks turned out the best.

I admit I am not very well versed in genetics, but the yellow down chicks had a tendency to grow into birds with red in the feathers. I believe there is a discussion somewhere in cyperspace about down color.

As to shank and beak color I am breeding for slate legs and neutral beaks so I would say that I don't know how yellow pigment affects the brightness of the white feathers.

Jean
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dakers



Joined: 11 May 2006
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 26, 2008 8:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kirk,
To reinforce what you said about leg color, I just observed in the 4 white rock chicks I have that are one week old, the one very gray chick has much less yllow pigment in its legs than the others.
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Bill McGee



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PostPosted: Sat Jan 26, 2008 9:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

More a question, than an answer.

Is the grey down a diluter or inhibitor of yellow to the legs?

Is there a difference in SKIN color between the gray chicks & the yellow ones?
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micofwis



Joined: 02 Sep 2003
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 26, 2008 9:55 am    Post subject: Down Color Reply with quote

I don't think you can judge shank color until chicks are older. Color takes time to develop.
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Bill McGee



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PostPosted: Sat Jan 26, 2008 12:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree that color takes time to develop, but I don't necessariy agree that you cant judge shank color until birds are older.

I believe there are indicators in newly hatched chicks that through observation (from newly htched to adult) that the breeder can rely on to determine which chicks are going to turn out to be the best adults.

The only examples I have are in other colored breeds, so I will use that.
In the Buff Orpingtons I hatched, the chicks hatched with yellow legs. Because of my inexperience in Oprs I was surprised to see that. One had a greenish tint, but was culled because of other disqualifing faults, so I never learned if it would have turned the necessary pinkish white. The ones I kept all turned out to be the the correct leg/shank color. Now I don't know if this is normal, but it did tell me that even though it wasn't expected, these yellow leg chicks can/do mature to be the correct shank/foot & beak color.

I can tell you positively that Black Cochin Chicks that hatch black, with little or no yellow/white down will mature to birds that are way to dark. They will never get the proper leg/shank color & will tend to be dark faced, wrong eye color & probably purple sheen. I learned that by noting the difference between chicks & how they mature. I can confidently cull birds based on these "indicators" & don't have to wait until they mature.
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MattL



Joined: 18 Sep 2002
Posts: 479
Location: Lima, OH

PostPosted: Sat Jan 26, 2008 12:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have found that the Sta-White or Silver Gene birds never have the bright yellow leg color and bill color of the ones who are not Sta-White. Also, continual breeding of the Sta White birds will fade the leg color to almost a pink flesh color as we see in alot of White Cochin bantams. I have found this to be true in Rocks, Wyandottes, Leghorns and Cochins. I also have not the time or patience to understand the genetics guru mumbo jumbo but have learned from over 30 years of actually mating and raising the birds. Bill, likewise on the Blacks, it's easier to get good birds with the black leg color & beak color and alot more difficut to maintain the yellow legs as described in the standard. Kirk told you the secret, you need to keep some of each.
MattL
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micofwis



Joined: 02 Sep 2003
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 26, 2008 12:50 pm    Post subject: Leg Color Reply with quote

Egg laying and age will also fade the yellow pigment, sometimes to the point one can hardly tell if the skin is yellow or white. Since egg laying and longevity would be considered desireable traits to have, I can't see why the exact shade of yellow skin or beak should be a big deal. Getting and keeping feathers that stay white seems like a good thing to me. Not much challenge in breeding solid white birds otherwise. Sorry if using genetic terms seems like mumbo jumbo to some of you. I'll try to be more careful on this board.
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dakers



Joined: 11 May 2006
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 26, 2008 3:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good question, microfwis; regarding why does the color of the beak and legs, matter? It depends on the hobbyist's purpose; if your purpose for raising chickens is to watch them in the backyard and hear a rooster crow, is doesn't matter. Just like it doesn't matter to me that my Jack Russell Terrier's ear's go up instead of down, like they're supposed to, or that my "lab mix" in not a pure bred black lab.

But, with my chicken raising, I'm trying to breed the white plymouth rocks as best I can to a Standard of Perfection. The Standard says the leg and beak color should be yellow and the feather color should be white, everywhere. If I don't try to match as many characteristics as possible to the Standard of Perfection, I won't do very well exhibiting my poultry at poultry shows.
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micofwis



Joined: 02 Sep 2003
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 26, 2008 5:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I understand that Doug. I got my APA master exhibitor certificate about ten years ago. But IMHO to the extent the standard conflicts with productive traits or calls for genetic impossibilities there should be changes made to it to allow for such things as faded yellow pigment in producing hens. Or if you can't get stay-white feathers without the silver gene that causes faded beak and shank color, then perhaps the standard should not call for a bright shade of yellow. If the only choices are to breed brassy whites with bright yellow shanks or productive birds with faded shanks that don't do as well in the show room, I'll take the faded shanks and egg production every time.
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MattL



Joined: 18 Sep 2002
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Location: Lima, OH

PostPosted: Sat Jan 26, 2008 10:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

But IMHO to the extent the standard conflicts with productive traits or calls for genetic impossibilities there should be changes made to it to allow for such things as faded yellow pigment in producing hens.

No one has said the non silvers were any less productive than the Sta Whites. That is often the excuse for the Sta White breeders when they are cut for poor leg color. Even the best production Leghorn retains some yellow pigment. Most of the Sta Whites never had it.

Or if you can't get stay-white feathers without the silver gene that causes faded beak and shank color, then perhaps the standard should not call for a bright shade of yellow

Another one of those, I can't breed it to the standard so lets change it to fit my breeding plans type of guys eh Microfis. It won't happen on my watch. If my memory serves me right you breed Americana's. I have been around long enough to remember when they were admitted to the Standard but that's a whole other story. That was in the 70's, the Rocks were one of the first breeds admitted. We all should be breeding for productivity first and those who do not will not be around very long.
MattL
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micofwis



Joined: 02 Sep 2003
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 27, 2008 8:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

No Matt, they are Ameraucanas, not americanas. Maybe your memory does not serve you all that well? I also breed Chanteclers and Wyandottes. And I have bred Rocks, Leghorns, & other yellow legged breeds over the past 35 years. Good producing hens lose yellow pigment in their skin, including the epidermis of their shanks. That is a fact of life. So production IS related to the skin color of yellow legged females, unless they are cockerels or pullets just starting to lay, and that has nothing to do with the S gene. There are other genes besides S that makes a bird white, so I'm not convinced that S is the sole cause of faded skin pigment. When there is some science to document this hypothesis I would like to see it.
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micofwis



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PostPosted: Sun Jan 27, 2008 10:33 am    Post subject: S gene Reply with quote

Forgot to mention that Light Brahmas, Silver Leghorns, Silver Wyandottes, and a host of other varieties are yellow legged breeds that are pure (have two copies) of the S gene. If they didn't they would be Buff Brahmas, Brown Leghorns, and Golden Laced Wyandottes instead of what they are. So if S were the sole cause of faded legs, all these and more would have the very same problem.
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MattL



Joined: 18 Sep 2002
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 27, 2008 10:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good producing hens lose yellow pigment in their skin, including the epidermis of their shanks.
No one has disagreed with this statement but they must first have the yellow pigment to lose it. I have handled many a Light Brahma male with white legs and some pullets with white legs. I'll give the hens the benefit of the doubt if they have white legs. So you can't really blame that one on production. If you tolerate poor leg color in your breeding, that's what you will have. You can blame it one production if you like but I doubt that is the root cause.
MattL
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micofwis



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PostPosted: Sun Jan 27, 2008 6:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Unless all the S carrying varieties have poor leg color that pretty much rules out S being the sole cause. It could be two or several genes working in tandem that causes the problem, however.
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MattL



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PostPosted: Sun Jan 27, 2008 8:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think that's the correct assumption that several genes are affecting it. It also explains why some of the Light Brahma breeders cross the buffs in every once in awhile. I never had a problem with my LF Silver Wyandottes but the males would show some red in the hackle so I would guess there was gold in them as they cross gold and silvers back and forth. Good thread and enjoyed the exchange of ideas.
MattL
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micofwis



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PostPosted: Mon Jan 28, 2008 6:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks, Matt. I enjoyed it too. And thanks to Doug for posing the question.
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dakers



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PostPosted: Mon Jan 28, 2008 8:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, thanks to all. I'll continue to ID the gray chicks, but won't be concerned about significiantly increasing the % of gray chicks hatched; or I might lose yellow leg color. As Kirk and Matt, said, keep some of each.
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Kirk Keene



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PostPosted: Mon Jan 28, 2008 11:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

To clarify the Standard discussion, I want to point out that the American Standard of Perfection has in it's Interpretation of Standard; Condition, subsection (b) Faded Pigmentation: "A fading or bleaching of color from that described in the Standard for the beak and shanks or the pigment in yellow skin breeds is a defect when the result of poor health or condition, but shall not be considered such if the natural result of heavy egg production, age, or seasonal changes." As you can see, the Standard does not conflict with productive traits at all. If anything, it calls for production to be a major influence on how we should breed our birds.
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micofwis



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PostPosted: Mon Jan 28, 2008 6:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kirk:
How does a judge know why a hen has faded yellow leg color ?
He has no way to know if it is from production, condition, diet,
or genetics IMHO. But if I'm wrong please tell me why. Thanks.
You can always give her the benefit of the doubt, but when it comes to picking champions I suspect there is always that lingering doubt, that reluctance to put her on top. How many times have you seen it done?
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Kirk Keene



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PostPosted: Tue Jan 29, 2008 10:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Long before I began showing on a national scale, I was involved in 4-H & FFA. I participated in the State Judging contests with both organizations, and learned that a clear sign of production (along with fading of the pigmentation) was to look at a pullet or hen's vent to see if she were producing eggs. This was very important to know, as both 4-H and FFA judging contests are based on production birds, rather than Standard-bred birds. The shape, size, and elasticity of the vent can give you a very good idea of how long a bird has been in production. The shape of a female's body will also change immensely once she begins to lay. For instance, my White Rock bantam pullets are at their peak (as a show specimen) at 5 1/2 to 6 months of age. Shortly after, they begin to lay and their bodies become much less balanced, as weight shifts from their breasts to their abdomen. This is not only apparent in chickens, but also in ducks and geese. Females of these species will develop "bagginess" in their abdomens, which becomes more pronounced as they increase production.

I have had to occasionally remind a few fellow judges on Champion's Row that fading on a particular female was completely acceptable if she were producing. However, I have seen several examples do quite well. One that comes to mind was a RC Dark Brown Leghorn hen a few years back at one of the Southen Ohio shows. She went on to win Rsv. Champion Large Fowl, even though she was bleached white in the leg, face, and vent, but clearly in heavy production.
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longfeathers



Joined: 24 Aug 2002
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 29, 2008 1:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kirk,

Can you email me offlist at
longfeathersfarm@yahoo.com?

Donald
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micofwis



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PostPosted: Tue Jan 29, 2008 9:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kirk,
All very good points. When a hen stops laying her vent area shrinks and hardens, but the color does not come back into the skin quickly if at all. She may have been a good layer, but at some point she may be taking a rest or even be 5 or 6 years old. I'm thinking its going to pretty hard to judge the reason for the pale skin color in such cases. The fact that you have had to remind other judges to cut some slack to a contender would indicate that pale yellow skin is sometimes, maybe often, discriminated against when it should not be, contrary to Standard intent. Anyway, keep up the good work. I'm just happy to be breeding some slate shanked birds thus avoiding the whole issue. Nice talking with you.
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Robert Blosl



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PostPosted: Sat Feb 09, 2008 1:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have asked this same question about 16 years ago and Jim Volk told me not to get I rid of those white rock large fowl chicks that had Smokey or sooty down color as day old chicks. These are the stay white gene chicks he told me to use these chicks in my breeding program as it would help me to have a nice white color free of brassiness. Being I live in the very deep south about twenty miles from the Gulf of Mexico I get the Sun maybe more directly than others in the county. In fact I am the only major breeder raising white rock large fowl in the Deep South who has a nice white color free from specks or yellow quills. I had a problem with light leg color about 15 years ago and the color was like a silver queen corn. Light white yellow. I just choose birds that legs and beaks where yellow and went on from their. I have raised white rock bantams for five years and do not recall seeing any chicks with blackish down color. I have just started raising white leghorn bantams and will see if this pops up in the chicks this year. I remember a article from the American bantam association scrap book section about thirty years ago and a Cornish breeder said in this article that their where five different shades of white in chickens. I have always wanted to stay away from the brassy shade do to my location in the south. In the Northwest of Washington State I never saw brassiness in white rocks. The White Rocks that I saw and had as a kid where from Carl Hove of Seattle Washington and they where from Bill Hallback of Wisconsin that Carl got in the 1930s and 40s from Harold’s Dad. I have a few pictures of birds that I have or have raised or introduced to my bloodlines. In the pictures below, I have a trio of white rock bantams the females are between three and four years old and still show good yellow in their legs. The male is a ckl from this year hatch with good yellow leg color. The leghorn ckl is last years ckl and the hen is his aunt who is four years old. A little faded in color for this leghorn hen , but she had good color in her legs in her hay days as does all her daughters she produces. I have a picture of a red bantam and a immature white rock ckl large fowl you can see his color in his legs he this was a picture about five years ago. One picture has a ckl leaning down trying to get a bug. He is about five months old. All his brothers and sisters this year had bright yellow legs just like his. I guess the way I breed for white color is by selection and the fit of the fittest principle and using old hens who still can maintain their good yellow legs and beak color. If they have shape white in color that stays white in the sun they better have yellow legs or I will get rid of them. Excellent thread Doug and comments more of this kind of subject will be in the Ply month Rock Fanciers Club Newsletter that is coming out this year. If you want a free copy email me at katz@gulftel.com and I will send you a copy by email. Bob Blosl.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v11/katz0556/07%20Chickens/whiterocktrio2008.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v11/katz0556/07%20Chickens/whiterockckl2008.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v11/katz0556/07%20Chickens/P2030127.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v11/katz0556/07%20Chickens/008_6A.jpg
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GLHeywood



Joined: 17 Aug 2002
Posts: 5270
Location: South Dakota

PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2008 5:32 pm    Post subject: well Reply with quote

My white Cochin 's and White cochin frizzles all had gray dusky chick down and good yellow legs
I only kept the gray downed chicks for breeding
I disposed of the yellow downed ones for decades and never breed any ofspring new into the strain
I never fed corm just 16% purina crumbles in the 70' and 80's I always got good yellow feet and clean color beaks
So if this goes against the right way my flock were okay
this is one of the most interesting pieces of learning here. thanks every one
Glenda L Heywood
frizzlebird6@yahoo.com
http://www.gkpet.com
click on pet forum for articles
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Robert Blosl



Joined: 18 Sep 2002
Posts: 109

PostPosted: Fri Feb 15, 2008 12:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

For those who have contacted me that the pictures are not available here are the revised links on the white birds with yellow legs. Bob Blosl








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