Beginners guide to genetics

 

Genetics are something that is frequently over-looked by a lot of bird breeders. It is a very complicated subject and I don't pretend to be able to give you all the answers on one website. Hopefully I will be able to explain the basics which will encourage you to find out more. The majority of genetics I will speak about will be based on cockatiel mutations as this is what I am most familiar with.

 It has taken me a number of years on and off and a lot of perseverance on behalf of a friend of mine Ray Grieg for me to understand the genetics involved in breeding mutation cockatiels. So don't worry if you don't get it first time, if you have any questions please do not hesitate to drop me a line if i can't answer your question I am sure Ray will be able to.

 I will concentrate on the two main genetic types for birds in general which are the Recessive Mutation and The Sex-Linked Mutation. These will be dealt with on an individual basis although they can be multiple mutations in one bird. In the examples below there are mutations referred to as splits these are birds that carry the gene to produce the mutation but the mutation is not visual in the birds. You will not know if a bird is split for any mutation unless you test mate it and see what you produce. If anyone is interested as in how to do this drop me a line. The mutations dealt with here are very basic further information on the new genetics can be found in Jim Hayward's book of Bumper Book of Cockatiel Mutations.

 Recessive Mutations

Recessive mutations include Whiteface, Pied and Fallow. The best way to explain this mutation is if you breed from a recessive cock or a hen then all the off-spring will be split recessive's. If you breed from a recessive cock or hen to a split recessive cock or hen then a percentage of the off-spring will be visually recessive and a percentage will be splits. If you breed a recessive cock to a recessive hen then all the off-spring will be visually recessive birds.

 Note: In these examples Normal is a bird that does not carry any mutation.

Mutation Cock Mutation Hen Off-Spring Cocks Off-Spring Hens

Pied Cock Normal Hen Split Pied Cocks Split Pied Hens

Normal Cock Pied Hen Split Pied Cocks Split Pied Hens

Split Pied Cock Split Pied Hen Pied & Split Pied Cocks Pied & Split Pied Hens

Pied Cock Pied Hen Pied Cocks Pied Hens

Sex-Linked Mutations

Sex-Linked Mutations include Lutino, Pearl, Cinnamon and Yellow Headed. The most important factor is you can't have a split sex-linked hen! You have to pair two birds with the Sex-Linked gene if you wish to produce a visual sex-linked cock. If you pair a sex-linked cock to a normal bird you will produce sex-linked visual hens in the nest straight away. This is why a lot of breeders like the Sex-Linked mutations as they can visually see the hens from the cocks in the nest.

 Note: In these examples Normal is a bird that does not carry any mutation

 

Mutation Cock Mutation Hen Off-Spring Cocks Off-Spring Hens

Lutino Cock Normal Hen Split Lutino Cocks Lutino Hens

Normal Cock Lutino Hen Split Lutino Cocks Normal Hens

Split Lutino Cock Lutino Hen Split & Lutino Cocks Lutino Hens & Normal Hens

Lutino Cock Lutino Hen Lutino Cocks Lutino Hens

This has been a real whistle stop tour of the genetics in birds and i am sure it will raise some questions. Keep looking out for further posts or post a comment or question in the forum section. I am more than happy to help out.

 
Steve Macher