We got gifted with some cute fuzzy chicks!
We’ve been putting together new episodes of Tough GRIT, one
of which talks about chickens (surprise, surprise), specifically the care of
newly-hatched chicks. Meyer Hatchery generously gave us a box of chicks for the
episode. We had a few more chicks than we needed, so I had the opportunity to
adopt a few. I chose four Blue Splash Marans pullets. ‘Marans’ (with a silent s) is the
name of the village in France
where the breed originated, pronounced muh-rahn, I’m told.
chickens have some really interesting stuff going on, genetically. Basically,
they’d have black plumage, but there’s an incompletely dominant ‘Blue’ gene
that dilutes black coloring. To break it down, Mendel-style:
(BB) If the chicken ends up with no blue genes, they’ll have
(Bb) One blue gene will partially mask the black color and
you’ll get that gray or slate blue color.
(bb) Two blue genes will yield a splash-colored chicken,
where the black is mostly masked and you get a pretty ‘Dalmation’ pattern.
If you build a Punnett square, you'll see that Splash x Splash will always breed more splashes, even though Blue x Blue gives a mixture.
Pretty awesome, right? Nothin' says good-lookin' like a good pair of blue genes.
There’s a lot more to know about blue chicken genetics, but I’m
digging in with a will. If you’re interested, this site is a good place to
start. Of course, you don’t need to know anything about genetics to raise
chickens well, but we like to know what makes our animals the way they are.
These chicks are between 2 and 3 weeks old now, in that
awkward adolescent stage, and after a few more weeks they’ll be ready to move
into their new chicken tractor. Guess that means I need to get to building it,
huh. I've never built one before, and we're debating between an ark-style, and having the coop on one end, like Caleb and his wife did.
If you've got any suggestions, let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on my Facebook page.
Have fun :)