This is a topic that has been reviewed forever amongst various breeders of black poultry. I've always been interested on the different methods breeders use to maintain the green sheen
There are various approaches breeders have used to maintain the green sheen or to obtain it.
It has been noted that old english game breeder would take their dull blacks and breed them to Black Breasted Reds( BBReds) to obtain the green sheen. with the belief that Mahagony contributes to the green sheen While others claim it is (s+) recessive Sex -Linked gold which contributes to the green sheen.
I had a cochin breeder tell me that (S) Sex- Linked Silver will contribute to the green sheen. I decide to give this a try. I had a black bird with a silver hackle. I breed it to blues and the solid blacks which I obtained from this breeding had the most brilliant green sheen I had ever seen.
And of course if your birds have the green sheen it can be maintained by select breeding.
Here are some various points I've pickup from different breeders and articles I've read. I haven't tested all of these approaches but maybe some of the other breeders on this forum have. If you have I'm interested in your info.
It has been expressed that if your bird is lacking a green sheen but has a sheen reflecting every color of the rainbow. In the breeding process the green sheen has been over shot. So breed this bird to a dull black and the green sheen will return,
If you bird is showing purple barring or puple sheen. It is questioned on whether this is genetics. Some people claim it may be from lack of certain nutients. Does any one have any info on this?
Now I'm trying to remember what to do if your black bird has a blue sheen, I'll have to look that one up.
Here are quotes from people who are well versed in genetics. If you have bird which have exceptional green sheen you better hold onto them for all its worth.
Originally Posted By: R. Okimoto
My Black Australorps are Sex-linked silver and they have very nice beetle green sheen. In Old English where the black is based on birchin they do make the cross to BB-red to recover the green sheen. This is probably not due to the sex-linked gold allele, but may be due to what people call the autosomal red factors. Salmon Faverolles are sex-linked silver and still have yellow hackles and saddles. They have to have autosomal red factors to maintain red where they should be silver. I'd bet that most black lines are sex-linked silver because it is easier to breed a clean black when you can clearly see the partially silver feathers rather than mucking with gold feathers that can look fairly black.
The green sheen is caused by a feather structure difference and isn't only due to pigment. You need the black to get the sheen, but the sheen is due to a combination of structure and pigment. It really isn't a color. If you remove the black all you have is a white feather. White Leghorns would probably have just as much green sheen as black or brown Leghorns, but you can't see the sheen because there isn't enough black pigment.
Blue feathers like you see in parakeets and bluejays are due to feather structure interacting with black pigment. They need a little black pigment in the feather to absorb some light so that you see the refracted blue light. If you put a bluejay feather in oil it will turn clear and when you look at it under a microscope you see a few black melanosomes in the feathers. If you remove the black pigment from a blue feather you get white feathers. If you remove the black from a green parakeet feather you get a yellow feather because blue plus yellow was making green.
Originally Posted By: KazJaps
I’m 100% certain that green or purple sheen has nothing to do with the S locus. When I 1st looked into buying some Indian Games (Cornish), the common tip by Indian Game breeders was to make sure I bought birds with a green sheen & to watch out for purple sheen birds in the flock. Sure enough, the 1st flock I looked at had some birds with purple sheen. The next flock, the breeder made a point to mention the birds had a good green sheen, i.e. part of the selling pitch. All were sex-linked gold with Mahogany.
I’ve Silver birds, no Mh with very good green sheen (Silver Sebright crosses) & yet other Silver lines with dull green sheen (Blacks, coming from Mealy/Birchen Greys). My Black Orps (from Blues), Black d’Uccles, the Black Pekins I had, all were sex-linked gold, very good green sheen. The Pekins had yellow-legs. I’ve got a S/s, Mh/mh Indian Game cross roo with good green sheen, yet old photos as a young cockerel show he did go through a stage with purple sheen. The only bird I have at the moment with a purple/green sheen is a black Indian Game/Blue Orpington cross hen. She is sex-linked gold, Mh/mh+.
Carefoot mentioned that the purple barring might be caused by irregular feather growth, eg due to poor nutrition, ill health, etc. Also, there is his finding that roos carrying recessive white (in his cockerel Partridge Wyandotte line), had lighter shade of gold (bright lemon) on hackles, robin-breasted red shoulders & reduced intensity in black plumage. Dutch Cream Light Browns (recessive cream-ig/ig, e+/e+, s) also have the darker red wing bows in the roos.
I haven’t seen the original report of where Mahogany was 1st described by Brumbaugh & Hollander. Is there any mention of the bronzing effect of their Mh gene on black? I’ve been assuming this trait was from Mahogany, but haven’t come across this in print, with reference to Brumbaugh & Hollanders’ study of this gene.
Gayle..i had one blk orp cockeral last year with several feathers with very distinct purple barring .almost like it was drawn on the dark green....non of the rest of this orp group had this..all of the rest of this group had a rich green ...husband had hatchery australorps that had distinct purple sheen , while a show australorp rooster had only a rich green sheen..all of the birds were fed the exactly same feed..raised either shipped chicks or hatching eggs..i could only assume it was in the genes..but it would be interesting to see if there is a dietary reason.
That cockeral never appeared to be ill in any way..very livley and bright eyed.
A couple of australorp breeders were talking about this subject on thread in australian website several years ago asking where the purpeling was coming from..one of ray connor people that he worked with said as you did above..purple was caused by too much green in the breeding shed, choose flat black to dull black females corrects the problem..thought that was interesting..
Also some of the blue english have extreamly dry feathers..beautiful lacing and decent color..but i wondered why the blk orps were so soft in feathers while the blues were so crispy dry..i wondered if something was missing in diet? Or genetics. The english seem to ration their energy between putting on body mass and feathering very slowly. I just cant figure out why the feathers are this dry, easy to break.
yes usually the best approach is to breed your purple sheen black bird to a dull black bird. If the green sheen appears thats great, but if the purple sheen keeps coming back it may be genetic or the chicken may have a metabolism problem which would be genetic also. I would not allow a purple sheen bird in the pen with my green sheen birds. I would keep them marked and separated, because if they are from a faulty genetic coding, you don't want your good green sheen birds contaminated with this fault.
ritterhahn 11-01-2009, 09:03 AM Commercial feed (as in layer ration?) and free ranged? Are these birds for exhibition? Usually, one only bothers about the fine aspects of phenotype in exhibition specimens, in which case one would need to do better than commercial feed and free roaming birds. Pen them up for their protection and feed them game bird ration (animal protein) for best feathering.
The matter of sheen is complicated. In my experience, there are four basic types of feather lustre:
(1) green, (2) red/purple, (3) blue (I have only ever seen this on the wings – I do not know if it could be made uniform throughout a bird), (4) matte – the absence of any sheen.
Feather sheen is a matter partly of genes and partly of feather structure (sheen is the way the feather reflects light). There is no consensus on what specific genetic backgrounds affect sheen: the gold colouration gene is supposed to enhance the green, whereas autosomal red yields the reddish-purple.
In such an instance, you must fall back on pedigree breeding and selection for the desired trait: Breed green to green, and cull birds with purple/red sheen to their feathers. Keep track of your breeding pens, keeping careful written records of the parents and the quality of their offspring. In time you should see results breeding green sheen to green sheen; the records will allow you to see the bloodlines that produce the best offspring. For intensity, you can cross with birds that exhibit the greatest intensity of green sheen – Sumatras from quality lines, for example, have a brilliant, metallic green sheen.
When I was young, a friend in my poultry club selected for the reddish sheen on his black Chabos – just to see what the result would be. That was quite a sight: a solid black bird flashing crimson in the sun.
ritterhahn 11-02-2009, 11:59 AM I intended ‘blue’ to refer to a variety of sheen, not the colour. Yes, sex-linked silver rather than sex-linked gold cleans up black, and thus makes a good blue. The gene lavender I have heard is best expressed with birds possessing the matte trait – all matte birds I have seen (few of them) had rather poor feathering – I wonder if this is the real cause of the poor feathering in well coloured lavenders?
As to blue and green sheens are they both based on Ml? If so, the more black (genetically speaking) a bird has, the greater its propensity to express the green sheen? I am not so convinced about the effects of sex-linked gold on the colour of the sheen (sex-linked silver birds can have good green sheen; perhaps a gene associated with sex-linked gold rather than sex-linked gold itself). Whatever the cause, the trait as seen is polygenic: the colour of the plumage, the iridescence or sheen, and the degree the sheen (or its suppression in matte). The degree of iridescence seen on ALL feathers is a matter of condition, and so really excellent food and sound conditions in the enclosure are necessary: a poorly kept birds can be seen to have dull, flat coloured feathers.
I am also convinced that a bird has to really be black to hold a green sheen. The Blacker the bird the better the green sheen. Some birds if they are lacking or have a poor green sheen maybe need more black enhancers melanizers breed into them.
Doc The green sheen is what you want on a black bird.
Breeding 2 birds both with extremely good green sheen and you'll begin to get the purple sheen. What you want is to breed a bird that is flat black to a bird with good green sheen and you'll produce chicks that alll show good green sheen.
Nothing prettier in the world than a chicken that is so black that it's green!
now as pointed out above many breeders stress that if your good green sheen birds start throwing birds with purple sheen. You have over shot your green sheen, and need to include some flat blacks in the breeding pens. Keep good records.
excellent information Gayle..I gave away the barred cockeral this spring..I might be able to go to thier house and take a few pics..he doesnt have any hens, hes a big back yard pet....the bars are a perfect line not bled out.. very distinct purple lines..When I have a little more time Im going to finish reading this....I am really interested in possible feed and environmental impact also..all of husbands purple hens are free roaming egg layers , they are not in any breeding pen..they look very much like the last photo..
From memory and from reading an explanation of this in Carefoot's book of genetics, I will attempt to give you an explanation. It is created by the pigment size, shape and density in the cells of the feather, different pigments are sized, shaped and contain different levels of pigment, thus giving the colour and sheen to each feather. The thing with GREEN sheen is it is common requirement of all black varieties. The common fault with the sheen is at times it appears purple or barred in it's lustre and these 2 faults are to be avoided and are the downfall of the lustrous green sheen required. In breeding they are to be guarded against at all costs and only breed from birds showing the rich green sheen, once introduced or fixed in a line the purple, barred or dull sheen is very difficult to erradicate.
The green sheen in all black fowls is very much linked to the gentics of the birds. However if you donn't select the correct birds in your breeding pen, you will loose the "beatle green sheen" so highly desired and end up with a flat black or purple sheen and well as completely balck legs, beaks and mulbury colured combs. In Australorps, selecting a male bird with a white coloured beak this will link to the colour on the feet as well as females (hens not pullets) that have a few white tips on the end of their flights. All these will only enhance your chances in obtaining the Green sheen. In Pekins similar except there your are dealing with the yellow pimgent in the legs and skin and there are pullet lines and cockerel lines. The males in your pullet lines will has execss white in undercolour, while the females in the cockerel line will tend to have darker / horn leg and beak colouring. Need to understand what you have there. So basically too much black in the mating and you end up this purple or flat black, if mating balanced you generally get green sheen. Note stress will cause purple barring, thats another issue.
According to these breeders Avoid using birds with purple sheen in the breeding pens because once it gets in the flock/line it is difficult to get rid of .
I recall another breeder expressing that baby chicks which had down which is black with the white , the penguin color down. Usaully had better green sheen when becoming adults, Then baby chicks which had solid black down at hatch. This is something which might need to be observed, to see whether this is an isolated incident or a possible absolute. But as the saying goes There is absolutely no absolutes.