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.
Blue splash 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 black feathers;
(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.
Have fun :)