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Let's talk Eye Colour

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1 Let's talk Eye Colour on Wed Jul 02, 2014 4:49 pm

Buff

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Question that maybe some more experienced breeders could offer some advice on. I was out looking at eye colour today on my birds. The two breeds I'm looking at are cochins and orpingtons. Now I checked the SOP and it states for cochins of all varieties reddish bay. On my black cochins I'm seeing some almost solid black almost like demon eyes this is the best way describe it others look lighter grey. It's the same with some of the black Orp's too. I have seen lighter eyes change to brown as the birds ages. Can anyone shed some light on this.



Last edited by Buff on Fri Jul 11, 2014 10:20 pm; edited 1 time in total

2 Re: Let's talk Eye Colour on Fri Jul 04, 2014 10:23 am

KathyS

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I don't have much experience with incorrect eye color, so I'm not sure how helpful I can be here.    According the the Standard, incorrect eye color is not a disqualification, but a fairly minor cut for points.  Still, we want to breed towards all of the correct traits in our flocks, so it is something to watch for and be aware of when selecting your breeders.  Eye color can change considerably while they are maturing as you mentioned.  In my breeds (Cochins, Chanteclers, Buff Orpingtons and RIR's) the chicks start with pale greenish-gray then gradually change to the correct reddish-bay. The dark brown you are seeing would be correct for black or blue Orpingtons, so I wouldn't worry there.  
If you have a hen that looks really nice in other ways, but her eyes are too dark, I think I would be tempted to use her anyway.  Especially in a more rare breed/variety where you don't have a lot of options. Make sure to match her up with a male that has good eye color and see what happens. But again, I'm only speculating.  Someone else feel free to jump in you have good advice for Buff!  Smile

http://www.hawthornhillpoultry.com

3 Re: Let's talk Eye Colour on Sat Jul 05, 2014 9:31 am

Blue Hill Farm

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Chicken eye colour is fascinating stuff!  Smile 

Taken from Genetics of the Chicken Extremities

The colour of the chicken eye is located in the iris, on both the front and backside of the iris, and in the connective fleece between the front - and the backside in which the blood vessels are located. This fleece contains black pigments. The colour of the iris is what we see from the outside.

Final eye colour can only be determined when a chicken has reached sexual maturity, because before that time, black pigment and also the distribution of carotenoids is not ready yet. All chicks are born with a greyish dark eye colour, bluish grey is possible too. The eye colour of hens can vary depending on how much eggs they lay, because carotenoids are out in the yolk as well.

There is a relationship between feather colour including the e-allele, leg colour, skin colour and eye colour. Birds with dark legs (id+)and are based on the feather colour e-alleles E (extended black) and ER (birchen) have dark eyes compared to birds without id+ and which are based on other feather colour alleles (e+, eb, eWh). But there are more factors playing a role. Also factors which counteract what is written above...perhaps that's why eye colour in chickens isn't thoroughly studied.

Feather colours which have influence on eye colour are the e-alleles E and ER which cause a brown eye if there are no other pigments or inhibitors present. E gives darker eyes than ER together with id+. Cuckoo or Barred (B) inhibits pigmentation in the eyes, the same for mottled (mo) Chickens based on wheaten (eWh) also show a lighter eye colour if there is no extra black in their feathers. Recessive white (c) has hardly any effect on eye colour, where as dominant white (I) does have influence especially when a chicken is based on E (extended black)

In summary, eye colour of chickens consist of:
1. blood vessels (red, orange) or the visible absence
2. black pigment on the front/backside of the iris, or its absence
3. opaque layer which causes pearl eye
4. carotene in iris (orange/yellow) or absence
5. genes which inhibit black pigment on one or both sides of the iris
6. genes which inhibit pigment distribution (cuckoo, mottled)

I'm not at all familiar with Cochins or their standard, but would guess your hen with the dark 'demon eyes' has dark legs as well? If so, she may be based on extended black and carrying id+. If the Standard calls for reddish bay eyes, I would be careful about using her because the gene responsible for dark brown eyes is recessive and carried on the sex-link chromosome. Which means she (or any dark eyed hen) will throw the undesirable gene to 100% of her male offspring. carrier males will not show it and may even have perfect bay coloured eyes, but will throw dark eyes to half their female offspring. Darn recessive genes are not exactly fun, or easy to get rid of...I too am dealing with this in my Ameraucanas.



Last edited by Blue Hill Farm on Sun Jul 06, 2014 7:00 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : fixed some stuff)

4 Re: Let's talk Eye Colour on Sat Jul 05, 2014 11:04 am

Buff

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Thank you blue hills farms that is some very helpful information. I'm going to have to check my "Demond eyed" ones now lol. This will for sure help me when I'm making finally cuts for my breeding program. These recessive genes sure can change things up. 

Thank you KathyS for your insight this too will also help me in my decision making. 

I will try and take some pictures too!

5 Re: Let's talk Eye Colour on Sun Jul 06, 2014 8:20 am

Blue Hill Farm

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No problem. I'm glad if any of it helped. Pictures are always welcome.  Smile 

And yes, recessives can definitely crash a party. Just don't let them end it before its time...because there is nothing to fear, only to face head on in my opinion. By concentrating your genetic material, you can bring both the good and the bad to the surface...then it's time to skim (and stir/or add) to the pot, depending upon what your goals are at that time.

One of my long term breeding goals is to make my birds unwanted recessive genes work for me, rather than against...that way I can eventually, hopefully, rid myself of the worst of them, all while keeping the best. When the good out number the bad, I'll know I'm doing something right.  cyclops 

And yet it is the mystery of the gene that makes breeding chickens so fun and interesting.  I love you Otherwise we'd all have perfect SOP specimens running around and there would be no need for improvement.
 

6 eye colour Oh so interesting on Fri Oct 17, 2014 10:29 pm

FluffyBottom

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ok I am trying to wrap my head around this concept.... so please feel free to  help me out. I have standard cochins,  I had 9 egg hatch in the spring from two sets of breeding pairs amazingly enough no rooster all pullets. Ok so here goes nothing I have a black Rooster and there mother/hen was a black as well they produced 4 pullets 3 black 1 blue the three blacks have *demon eyes* or dark coloured eyes the  blue has amber eyes.... so does this mean the eye colour is coming from the father? he has amber/reddish bay eyes but he could be hiding a recessive gene? for eye colouring. Which is to bad as they have great feathering and just awesome corn yellow feet.... i love them but gosh darn this eye colour could pose problems.....
I will have to look at the other pullets from my other breeding pair but again I think this is the same case with the 5 pullets they come from a blue roo and a black hen both have the amber eyes and I think all there offspring have dark eyes not amber any thoughts Ill have to take some pictures and post.

7 Re: Let's talk Eye Colour on Fri Oct 17, 2014 10:32 pm

FluffyBottom

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i should mention to that hey were hatched feb-march 2014 no sure how long it can take for eyes to change colour but I am thinking they will not at this point

8 Re: Let's talk Eye Colour on Sat Oct 18, 2014 8:49 am

CynthiaM

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This is a very interesting topic.  I have been raising blue and black cochins for about 6 years now and I have not really paid a huge amount of attention to eye colour.  I will need to get out there and have a good look at some of my black girls and take them on my lap and get some good pictures of eye colour.  I am away right now, but might be able to do a close up photoshoot next week.  I do know that my blues have a very reddish brown eye colour because I have noticed how beautiful this colour is.  Perhaps I should be paying more attention to the colour of the eye, but have been focusing on foot and shank colour and lacing....on the back burner with that one I guess.  I will include a picture I took of one of my chosen cockerels from a couple of years ago.  That same eye colour is prevalent in the blues...but really, have never noticed the blacks' eye colour....I will.  This is a very nice close up of a blue cochin cockerel and those reddish bay eyes, beautiful.  Have a most wonderful day, CynthiaM.

9 Re: Let's talk Eye Colour on Sat Oct 18, 2014 9:03 am

FluffyBottom

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well all of my birds have amber eyes except the pullets that were born this year. I will have to take the best of my blue hens and breed them too the black and blue roosters and see what happens. I am all new to this and have some amazing foot colouring going on but needing to work on eye colour as mention SOP states a variety of reddish brown in all cochin colours. I find it all so interesting well kinda mind boggling at times ;0)

10 Re: Let's talk Eye Colour on Sat Oct 18, 2014 9:38 am

FluffyBottom

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Ok call me crazy or maybe it was just the dark rainy day yesterday here on the coast as I took a good look at eye colour this morning and each and everyone has amber eyes yes some much darker amber but they are all amber Thank you amber eye gods ... so know that I have indeed the correct eye colour and some awesome yellow feet happening I am happy..... I did lose my one hen whom I was breeding to my black roo she gave me 4 offspring only and those are the golden tickets for yellow feet and great feathering, my blue roo is giving my pullets great size to add into the mix, so I am interested to see what will happen this spring, I am hoping for some great size, good feathering, correct eye colour Very Happy, I would like another roo a splash if anyone has one or knows of one so I can have three pens rotating chickens hatched from pen A too Pen B /Pen B o C/ and Pen C to A so I can breed with that for hopefully 6 years. Any-who I am rambling thanks or the open ears

11 Re: Let's talk Eye Colour on Sun Oct 19, 2014 7:40 am

CynthiaM

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FluffyBottom wrote:ok I am trying to wrap my head around this concept.... so please feel free to  help me out. I have standard cochins,  I had 9 egg hatch in the spring from two sets of breeding pairs amazingly enough no rooster all pullets. Ok so here goes nothing I have a black Rooster and there mother/hen was a black as well they produced 4 pullets 3 black 1 blue the three blacks have *demon eyes* or dark coloured eyes the  blue has amber eyes.... so does this mean the eye colour is coming from the father? he has amber/reddish bay eyes but he could be hiding a recessive gene? for eye colouring. Which is to bad as they have great feathering and just awesome corn yellow feet.... i love them but gosh darn this eye colour could pose problems.....
I will have to look at the other pullets from my other breeding pair but again I think this is the same case with the 5 pullets they come from a blue roo and a black hen both have the amber eyes and I think all there offspring have dark eyes not amber any thoughts Ill have to take some pictures and post.

Always wondering about things, who did you get your cochin stock from? It is very nice to hear that you have the good colour on shanks and feet, that is a very good thing with trying to breed cochins to the SOP. Keep it up. Nice also to hear that they do have that reddish bay colour...have a wonderful day, CynthiaM.

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