Color genetics clarified

So, I was wrong. That’s nothing new. It turns out that blues crossed with blues make 25% black, 50% blue, and 25% *silver* (not chocolate). That would explain Harry’s stunning color. Not blue. And the color names are NOT as confusing as the corresponding genetics.

Here’s how it works: Blues are the result of two main color genes. One is the black gene, and one is the *partially* dominant dilution gene. In order to be blue, the duck must have two black genes, and one dilution gene. This means that each parent will contribute one black gene (thus, the baby will have two black genes) and either a dilution gene or not. The babies, thus, can be black (black with no dilution gene), blue (black with one dilution gene), or silver (black with two dilution genes). I’ll let the mathematicians & engineers in the family figure out how the proportions come out like they do, if they feel like it.

Now, what’s really interesting is going to be Ron’s color. He is a cross between a blue and a fawn & white. The fawn & white genetics are quite complicated. In short, he will have received the following (where he receives a single gene for a color mutation, he also receives a corresponding single gene for *not* exhibiting that color mutation:

One (partially dominant) dusky gene (which causes a duck not to exhibit the characteristic patterns of the mallard, from which most domestic ducks are descended)

One or two dilution genes (one causes black to turn blue, two causes black to turn silver. No effect if there is no black gene)

One partially dominant runner pattern gene (causes characteristic white patterns of the fawn & white duck)

One partially dominant black gene (causes feathers to be black…)

So… what the heck does that mean? Right now, he’s sort of yellow with a tint of silver, which may be the effect of having only one black gene and two dilution genes. The runner pattern does not seem evident, but then it is only partially dominant, so in adulthood he may show a lighter version of the pattern. But really, who knows? What would be even more interesting would be the offspring of two ducks with Ron’s genetics–they could be just about anything, including runner ducks colored like a wild mallard. And if the male were the fawn & white, another mutation, one that turns black to brown, would come into play (it’s a sex-linked gene, meaning that only the father can pass it to children).

Enough genetics for one night. Bed time.



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