Many of the basic concepts of genetics and inheritance can be illustrated by examples from Silkie chickens.
Black, Blue, and Splash
These colors are controlled by the Blue gene, Bl. This gene is an example of incomplete dominance. A silkie with only one copy of the Bl allele (Bl bl+) will be blue. A silkie with two copies (Bl Bl) will be splash. A silkie with no copies of Bl (bl+ bl+) will be black.
A commonly asked question is what do you get when you cross a black and a blue? Or a how about a blue and a blue? These questions are easy to answer with the use of a Punnett square. For example, this is a Punnett square showing the results when a blue is crossed with a blue.
As you can see, crossing blue with blue results in 25% splash, 50% blue, and 25% black chicks. Click on the link for examples of Punnett squares showing the results of other crosses.
The majority of white silkies get their white color from the recessive gene, c. This gene is an example of epistasis, where one gene controls the expression of another gene. In this case, a silkie with two copies of the c allele will be white, because this combination “turns off” the expression of the other color genes.
More silke genetics information is coming soon!