Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Peafowl 201: Genetics part 1: Colors

When we left off with our Peafowl 101 post I promised more on genetics.  If you read our previous post you might remember that every peafowl has a pattern and a color.  This will be a multi-part series on genetics/breeding, this is part one: Colors.  We will have more posts on the Sex-Link Colors and then Patterns.

As we discussed before, peafowl come in 12 Colors (India Blue, Bronze, Cameo, Charcoal, Jade, Midnight, Opal, Peach, Purple, Taupe, Violeta and White).  We keep 7 of these colors: India Blue, Bronze, Cameo, Opal, Peach, Purple and White.

Most of the colors follow the same rules while a few of the colors are referred to as 'sex-linked' colors.  Let's start with the basic colors to get an idea of how the genetics break down.  The colors that follow the basic 'Punnet's Square' rules are 

  1. India Blue
  2. Bronze
  3. Jade
  4. Midnight
  5. Opal
  6. Taupe 
I remember doing Punnet's squares back in high school biology (and I quite enjoyed it, nerd that I am.), husband is a scientist so he does most of this in his head.  If I didn't have him handy to refer to I'd be writing this all down!

In the peafowl world, the term split refers to a bird carrying those genetics but not visually expressing it.  For instance, this boy looks like an India Blue (Black Shoulder pattern) but he is also split peach.

India Blue Black Shoulder

Peach Peachick

Some of the female chicks are Peach like this chick to the left, some are blue like the chick below.
In contrast, this is an India Blue chick.

For the combinations listed below you can interchange where I have listed blue (short for India Blue) with Bronze, Jade, Midnight, Opal or Taupe and get the same results.

Blue X Blue = all blue chicks
Blue X Bronze = all blue split bronze chicks
Blue X Jade = all blue split to Jade chicks
Blue X Midnight = all blue split to Midnight chicks
Blue X Opal = all blue split to Opal chicks
Blue X Taupe = all blue split to Taupe chicks

Easy enough right?  Anything you breed that does not 'match up' color wise will produce split chicks of whatever color isn't blue.  The blue color is dominant so it will always visually display when you are not breeding two of the same color.

Now if you take any of these colors and cross them, all the chicks will be blue and split to both colors.  Let's use Bronze in this example (mostly because I love it so much).

Bronze Peacock

Bronze X Jade = all blue split Bronze split Jade chicks
Bronze X Midnight = all blue split Bronze split Midnight chicks
Bronze X Opal = all blue split Bronze split Opal chicks
Bronze X Taupe = all blue split Bronze split Opal chicks

Still with me?  Good.  ;)  The fun really starts when you start adding in the 'split' factor.  Because blue is dominant, crossing them to a bird that is split to another color would not give you that color (blue X blue split bronze will not give you bronze chicks).  You would need to cross that split bird with either one of that color or one that is also split to that color.

Bronze X Blue split Bronze = 50% chicks will be bronze, 50% will be blue split bronze
Blue split Bronze X Blue split Bronze = 25% bronze, 50% blue split bronze, 25% blue
**here is where it starts to get tricky because you will not be able to tell the difference between the blue and the blue split bronze. ** 

Clear as Mud?!

You can see how careful record keeping is imperative to breeding peafowl, well if you are planning on achieving a desired outcome at least.  ;)

In our next installment we will talk about the other colors, Cameo, Peach, Purple and Violeta.  Also known as sex-link colors.

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