Bearded Cuckoo Silkies
We are working on breeding the cuckoo silkie to meet the APA/ABA standard. I get numerous requests from people looking for "show quality" cuckoo silkies. IMO, there are none yet although a few breeders are getting very close. The cuckoo is not a recognized variety and there are a few serious breeders working to improve them overall. Currently, the obvious faults and areas of improvement are: red combs, light skin coloring, light eyes, overall type and confirmation.

I'm very excited about this chick. He is 3 days old in this pic. The toe placement is very good and the skin is dark. The body is also nice and round. He also has foot feathering on all toes. I'm hoping for a boy. I wish the beak was a little darker but you can't have everything!



Breeding Cuckoos

cuckoos are a fun gene to work with. It is a sex-indicating trait. Meaning that depending of how it is bred, you can tell males from females. Barred females can only have 1 copy of the barred gene while barred males can have 2 copies of the barred gene. I will explain: barring is defined by "B" which resides on the Z chromosome. Males have two Z sex chromosomes and the female has one Z and one W sex chromosome. There is no barring gene on the W chromosome so females can have only one. A male with 2 copies is represented as (B,B). A male with one copy is represented as (B, b+) where lower case b+ indicates a lack of the barring gene. A male with no barring is represented as (b+, b+). The female has one long chromosome and one short chromosome. The barring gene is on the long chromosome and not the short one, so therefore a female can have only one copy of the barring gene (always). A female with barring is represented as (B, _). A female without barring is represented as (b+, _). The underscore indicates her short chromosome lacks the location of that gene.


When a barred female (B,_) is crossed with a non-barred male, (b+, b+) results in all the male offsprings being barred and the females are non-barred. That's why the male cuckoo is so important. I get numerous requests from people looking for pullets, however, the key to breding all cuckoos is the male. When a barred male, (B, B) is crossed with a non-barred female, (b+, _), all the chicks will be barred.

See the charts below:


there are 4 possible combinations with each mating:

the 1st chart to the left shows that 100% of the males will have barring and 0% of the females will have barring.

the 2nd chart to the left shows that 100% of the males will have barring and 100% of the females will have barring.
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