Extracted from
Aviculture
magazine
published by Delta Press 1994

  THE Yellow Partridge (click for pictures)            return to homepage

a beautiful problem child
It is understandable that breeders and Judges can have problems with this colour variant. The breeder, because he doesn't have the opportunity to compare notes with other breeders and the judge because he only occasionally comes across the odd yellow partridge at a show - and, once again, has nothing to compare it with - so mistakes are easily made.

The history of the Yellow Partridge - also known as the 'Orange Farbige' in Germany
Both the big Leghorns and the bantams have had a struggle to gain acceptance, to 1935 - almost 60 years ago - they were already being bred using Partridge and Silver Partridge colours. When the Leghorn club was first established, bantams in all colour variants were admitted When the Leghorn Club for Bantams in all colour variants was established in Germany in January 1939, the yellow partridge variants were admitted.

The other standard or accepted colours were white, black and silver partridge. Further development was obstructed by a lack of - or inaccurate - Information about genetics and hereditary factors. The Second World War did the rest. After the war va­rious attempts were made but mere was no progress worth mentioning. The lowest ebb was reached in the seventies and for years there were no yellow partridges to be seen at either specialist club shows or at the big shows. The odd bird that was seen was usually aft accidental mutation.

The turning point
The German pedigree poultry breeding world, was slowly changing and this was to benefit the Leghorn bantams too. Incre­asing numbers of breeders were choosing new avenues to proceed in and specialising in rare breeds and colours. At the start of the eighties, a few breeders decided once again to fly breeding yellow partridges. Independently of each other - sometimes without even knowing who else was working in the field - and using various methods they started their programmes. As in earlier years, German bantams were used. The colours hardly caused any problems but obtaining the other specific characteristics of the breed was almost an impossible task. The most successful attempts were made with various colour variants of the Leghorn bantams. Before describing these attempt further, first a few general points about how the yellow partridge colour is passed on genetically. Yellow partridge is a variation of the wild colour and; additionally, it is possible to breed them with lacing (as in the partridge and silver partridge) or without lacing (as in the partridge, brown partridge, silver partridge and wild colour). Of course, many intermediate variants are also possible and that is why mere has to be a genetic factor for the golden base colour and the pencilling which will cause the background colour to become lighter. We shall call this genetic factor, (variously known as dilution factor, yellow factor or cream factor in the professional literature) yellow factor. Inheritance of this factor is recessive and independent of gender, so that it only occurs as homozygote. hi order to obtain yellow partridge Leghorns without introducing other breeds one has to ask how the yellow factor can be found. It has long been known that various silver varieties can carry this factor but because the silver-white cannot be made any lighter it is not possible to recognise which of the silver coloured birds carry it in a double or single form. By breeding partridge with silver, the first generation can, depending on whether the silver parent animal had the yellow factor, differentiate. Birds with recessive genes will, however, not be recognisable and it is only  by interbreeding the first generation that yellow partridges will be obtained in the second generation. Then, thorough checking of lineages will reveal which parent birds possess the factor. Correspondingly, this is also applicable .when starting with silver birds. There is one more possibility which must be pointed out and that is that silver x partridge (gold) crosses can produce me colour fault known as silver orange backs, as is seen in game breeds. The mates of this colour variant strongly resemble yellow partridge males but have a colour somewhere in between silver and partridge (gold). It is also possible that they will possess the (single or double) yellow factor, as described above. This can also only be determined in the next generation. It is also possible that silver orange backs will recur in following generations and it is advisable to selectively breed them out of the line. It can take many years to produce a pure breeding line so that no throwbacks occur. If this programme of breeding had been followed from the beginning, it is more than likely that yellow partridges would be far more widespread than is now the case - they might even be one of the most popular colour variants! But now for the next stage: once yellow partridge birds have been obtained, improving the standard will only be possible by using birds which have the gold factor. The first generation is always gold (partridge) but heterozygote for yellow par­tridge and in the second generation there will be 25% partridge (gold), 50% partridge (gold) with a single yellow factor and, in either gender, 25% pure bred yellow partridge. The progeny of these birds will breed true. Further, it has been ascertained that birds bred in this way are of a better quality than those bred from silver partrid­ge crosses. Should no yellow partridges be available, gold (Partridge) and silver partridges should be crossed until yellow partridge females are obtained. These will always be true bred as these females (due to the fact mat the silver factor is gender bound), cannot be untrue in gold. These yellow partridge females with the gold fac­tor will produce the -undesirable- silver , orange backs when crossed with males with the gold factor. For the further deve­lopment of yellow partridges, silver partridges and partridges have been used and the brown partridge has now also become avai­lable. To improve colour, the German bantam is also used.

Personal breeding experiences
To get around the problem of how to introduce new blood into rare breeds or colour variants, I built my stock up out of various bloodlines. I already knew that the lacing in the female's plumage and the breast pencilling of the males was genetically dominant and so, to prevent excessive pencilling, my first line was created from brown partridge coloured birds. As the strong lacing of the silver coloured birds could have been an obstacle, I star­ted with very light coloured birds. Previous experiments had established that they could also carry the yellow factor. Problems also arose with form as neither of the initial colour variants were in good form in the early 1980's. I tried to breed this disadvantage out by using the best possible blacks. As was to be expected, this caused colour repercussions, but these were followed by improvement and the yellow partridges of today are still profiting from this late cross. In a second line, I crossed gold (partridge) with birds from the first line. There was a clear improvement in yellow partridge, almost no pencilling in the neck in the males and the expectation/prospect of a further improvement in form. This is why I cannot share the popular opinion that partridges (gold) are not suitable for crossing with yellow partridge. In fact, I believe the opposite, but only if birds, of both colour variants, which have as little lacing as possible are used. A much finer peppering is also shown. To date, the best birds have usual­ly come from this breeding concept. In a third line I did start with silver coloured birds. Although I obtained birds carrying the yellow partridge factor, serious problems arose after several years in the intensity of the yellow partridge colour so that I now only possess a few birds from this line. With regard to form, they were among the best, which was confirmed by the award of the first 'Excellent rating' to be won by any male in the 1980's and a 'Beautiful rating' awarded to a female in 1987. An attempt to cross into the German bantam line failed, despite excellent colour quality, because of bad form, which once again proved old experiences to be valid. The second attempt to introduce birds from another line also failed rapidly as a result of poor type, strongly sloping back lines and insufficient colour affinity, starting from brown partridge and silver partridge. A third attempt with an orange silver back male from different stock, which had good breed characteristics, also failed to give the desired result. The problems initially caused by the orange silver back male have already been mentioned, but even in this case I managed to create pure bred birds. In recent years, the most important task has been to unite the various lines, keeping in mind that the present preference (the single line) is retained.

Breeding results
At the start of the 1980's yellow partridge Bantam Leghorns were never seen at the big shows. In 1985, the results of the breeding programme started to become visible - 3 breeders showed 25 birds at the big shows at Hannover and at Munster. A year later there were even more, but after a few years numbers dropped again. But, from the continued improvement in quality during these three years, nobody could fail to guess that a rapid expansion in the numbers of en­tries was about to happen. A landmark in the breeding of Leghorn Bantams in ge­neral, and yellow partridges in particular, was winning the Golden Victory Ring at the Hannover show in 1989, when some 900 Leghorn Bantams were entered, in­cluding 49 yellow partridges - a record which has not since been equalled. Be­tween 1989 and 1991, the average num­ber of birds shown at the German Special Club Shows stabilised at about 70. As more and more fans of this beautiful co­lour variant are recruited, we will be able to depend on additionally increasing numbers. It will not go unnoticed that the opinions of the judges have been jointly responsible for guiding this positive de­velopment. Novice breeders must not think that a good stock can be built up quickly. It will take a least a couple of years and there will be disappointments to be overcome. But don't be discoura­ged: take heart and breed good birds -this colour variant deserves the effort.