The Genetics of Chicken Colours by Sigrid van Dort - David Hancox and Friends.
how and why of chicken genetics has long been a mystery to many of us amateur chicken
breeders, and books on the genetics of chicken colours are few and far between. The
book 'The Genetics of Chicken Colours The Basics' is therefore a very welcome addition
to this field.
The book is written by Dutch amateur geneticist and chicken breeder
Sigrid van Dort with the help of her friends and is intended for amateur chicken
breeders who lack a formal background in genetics. Sigrid's co-author of the English
Edition is Australian David Hancox. David's contribution is based on knowledge gained
throughout his 45 years of experience in the field of chicken breeding.
One of the first things one notices about the book is the large number of photo illustrations.
The author's claim that the book consists of about 2/3 illustrations and 1/3 text
appears correct. The numerous illustrations of both birds and individual feathers
make it easy to identify the more subtle differences in colours for example; different
types of barring may look similar when seen on a bird but are quite different when
individual feathers are compared.
The second aspect that stands out is the 'down
to earth' style in which the book is written. The author introduces genetics by comparing
chicken colours to vegetable or minestrone soup and uses this example throughout
the book to highlight how genetics work. For example, similar to soup, the colour
and appearance of chickens can be the result of a greater of lesser concentration
of say tomato paste, while at other times a colour can be the result of a adding
a completely new ingredient. By comparing the daunting topic of chicken genetics
to an everyday item such as soup the author demystifies the topic and makes it, excuse
the pun, easy to digest.
The book explains in simple terms how genetics create certain
colours and the factors that influence the way colours are inherited. The author
also discusses how different genetic factors combine to create colours and provides
numerous examples of the results of particular crosses. The book includes special
sections on topics such as: the red colour of the Yokohama breed, feather patterns,
and has exercises for readers to test their understanding of chicken genetics.
a quarter of the book's more than 200 pages describe in words and through photos
of both hens and roosters the wide range of standardised colours and the genetic
'recipes' that are responsible for their occurrence.
In light of the easy to read
style and the ability of the author to explain complex material in an easy to understand
manner I hope she will also expand or write a further book on chicken genetics covering
aspect such as crests, beards and leg feathering and the differences that can be
found in Frizzles and Silkies.
I expect that this book will be well received by Australia's
amateur chicken breeders and fanciers, and commend the author on presenting the topic
in such an easy to understand manner.
About the reviewer, Erik Berrevoets has bred
and kept chickens off and on for the last 30 years and his knowledge of genetics
prior to reading the book did not exceed that of a year 12 biology student.