Extracted from Breeding Leghorns
& Articles from Members of the Leghorn Club of Australia

 Breeding "Off" Colours     return to        return to homepage

Most of the lesser known varieties can be divided into two categories, those produced as natural sports, and most new varieties whether they are animal, vegetable or bird life are produced in this manner, and those that are man made, when there is a deliberate attempt to create new colours in a selected breed even though they may be already established in other breeds.

The first category could include cuckoos and blues or duckwings through a brown mating. In this article only Leghorns will be discussed and it will be agreed that White, Black, Blue, Brown and Buff are the established colours. All other colours will be classified as "off" colours. These will be divided into those that can be created using only Leghorns and those that have to introduce another breed to the Leghorn breed in order to establish the desired colour.
Within the Leghorn breed we can get Piles and Blue-reds relatively easily. To obtain Piles take a White male, as brassy as possible, and mate it to sound cockerel breeding Brown females. If the first mating is unsuccessful then go back to the Browns a second time.

Blue-red breeding is similar except that a Blue is mated to the Brown. In this mating, because of the genetic recessive gene in the Blue, then Black Reds (not Browns) will also be produced. It is advisable to toe punch the chickens - especially if Browns are also being bred, as the Black Red female and the Brown female are very hard to distinguish.

It is a cardinal rule when trying to produce these colours - be very severe and selective and cull heavily. As you will not produce good Blue-Reds from average quality Blues or Browns regardless of which colour you are trying to produce always start with the best stock available.
Other colours that can be produced are Duckwing, Columbian, Red and Gold laced. They are much more difficult because you have to go outside the Leghorn breed and then you have a problem with type that was not there when producing solely within the Leghorn breed. Whereas culling must be severe in the Leghorn bred varieties, in out crosses it is of paramount importance. The old axiom that size and type come from the female and colour from the male is usually correct.

To produce Reds, which is a very hard one to attempt, put a Rhode Island Red male over Buff females. There will be great variation in both colour and type in the progeny. Pick a male and female which are as near as possible to what you want - this will establish type yet more towards the colour you want. Mate the brother to sister and from this mating go back to the Red. Again pick a pair to mate together, stay with the Leghorn type and gradually improve the desired colour which is a dark chocolate red without black in the wings or tail.

Columbians can be created the same way. Do not use Sussex as the white leg colour is dominant. Try to get a single comb wyandotte male. Once again after each out cross always go back to a brother and sister mating to cement the improvement in colour into the type that you want.

1 was given a Rosecomb Bantam cock in Brown and another in Black by Neil Penny of Victoria. Now I have Rosecomb Bantams in white, black, blue and browns and in big fowls have browns and blacks and hope to add whites and blues this year.

There are almost endless variations one can achieve in the Leghorn breed. As there are sixteen recognised colours in the Standard and these can exist in cither rose or single comb that makes 32 varieties in large fowl and another 32 in bantams. So that makes 64 within the Leghorn breed. As we now have both cockerel and pullet breeding strains in black, blues and browns, that makes 70 varieties in total.

by courtesy of Les Busheft, Raymond Terrace, NSW ....
Poultry exhibitor for forty-five years after gaining first card when 15 years old. Best awards have been with Brown Leghorns, Large, and White Leghorns, in Bantams. Has always been interested in the rarer breeds and colours and has tried to retain some of those colours which few breeders have maintained.

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