Breeding Behaviour of Albinos and Lutinos

by Cyril Rogers (Circa 1964)

Over the years I have received a considerable number of queries regarding the breeding behaviour of Albinos and Lutinos. As there seems to be a steady increase in popularity among new breeders in these varieties I propose to discuss their breeding habits. The first point breeders should get firmly fixed in their minds is that an Albino or Lutino must be an Albino or Lutino form of one of the other colours. There are no such birds as pure Albinos or Lutinos.

Albinos, for example, must be a form one of the Blue series and, consequently, Lutinos are allied to the Green series. The Yellowface kind is, as could be expected, the Yellowface Albino form of one of the Yellowface blue series.

Having got that fixed firmly in mind it will be seen that although a bird is visually an Albino, or a Lutino, it must be something else as well. This fact has a big bearing on the colour of the young that are produced from any particular mating and, of course, the sex of the birds used also plays a decisive part.

Before I proceed further I feel that I should describe the sex-linked manner of heritance possessed by these Red-eyed birds. The sex-linked inheritance is just the same as that of the other sex-linked kinds, namely, the Cinnamons, Opalines, Slates and Lacewings, but for some unknown reason new breeders do not seem be able to realise the similarity between all White birds and all Yellow must describe the sex-linked manner of coloured sex-linked kinds.

I think that if I deal with the Lutino matings first my readers will be able to formulate their own ideas as to the inheritance of the Albino character which, of course, is exactly the same. A Lutino cock masking any Green series paired to a Green coloured hen will produce all Green coloured cocks that are "split" for Lutino and all Lutino hens.

The reverse mating; this is one that seems to mystify so many newcomers, results in all Green coloured cocks "split" for Lutino and all pure Normal hens of one of the Green series. These hens are of no more value for reproducing Lutinos than any other Green coloured hen with a long Green ancestry.

Two Important Matings

This, therefore, gives the breeder two matings: one where a Lutino cock is used and Lutinos are produced the first season and the other in which a Lutino hen is used and no Lutinos can he produced until the following season. These two matings are important to bear in mind by all breeders building up a Lutino strain. It is possible to have a dozen Lutino hens, for example, and if the Normal coloured cocks they are paired to are pure there will be no Lutinos among the progeny.

When a Green "split" for Lutino is mated to a pure Green hen the resulting young are Green coloured cocks and hens, Lutino hens and "split" Lutino cocks. Unfortunately there is no way in which the pure and "split" Greens can be identified visually. This can only be done by further test pairings; Lutino hens bred from such a mating are just the same kind of Lutinos as those birds having at least one Lutino parent, and this fact must always be borne in mind.

It will be seen that from the above mating only Lutino hens can result, and breeders may ask how can cock birds be produced. There are two pairings to give Lutino cocks among the young; they are Lutino to Lutino and Normal/Lutino to Lutino.

The first mating will, of course, produce Lutino cocks and hens only. The second pairing, however, results in Lutino cocks and hens, "split" Lutino cocks and pure Normal hens.

Fortunately these birds are readily recognised by their colouring and the breeder can re-mate them according to his own particular plan. Here again I must point out that the pure Normal hens are of no more value for breeding Lutinos than any other Normal hens.

Perhaps a few actual matings will serve as a guide to breeders as I know it is always more easy to understand when a definite pairing is examined. First of all let us take a Lutino Light Green cock and pair him with a Dark Green hen, and we shall get Light and Dark Green/Lutino cocks and Lutino Light and Dark Green hens.

Visually there is very little difference between the colourings of the Lutino hens, although they are, in fact, masking two different Green varieties. When the breeder has had more experience in identifying Lutinos it is often possible to pick out some of the birds that are of the darker kinds.

Select The Richest Coloured

It is always necessary to select the richest coloured birds for breeding and exhibition purposes and, generally speaking, they are the darker Green kinds. If a Lutino Light Yellow that looks to be almost identical to a Lutino Light Green is paired to a Normal Light Yellow hen all the young cocks they produce will be Light Yellow/Lutinos and all the young hens will be Lutino Light Yellows.

Should the fancier wish to find out what colour is masked by any particular Lutino hen I suggest that the best pairings for such a bird would be either Light Yellow or Light Green cocks. If, for example, the Lutino hen happens to be a Lutino Greywing Green/Yellow and she is mated to an ordinary Light Yellow cock, the pair would produce Light Yellow cocks and hens and Greywing Light Green/Yellow cocks and hens, the young cocks being "split" for Lutino.

In the past Lutinos have been crossed with practically every other colour and, consequently, they can be masking a whole range of different varieties. Where Lutinos are paired together for generations the same process of colour inheritance takes place behind the scenes as it were, and the colour variety can be handed down from generation to generation and not reveal its presence until suitable matings with non-Lutino birds are made.

I know that odd colour characters are at times introduced into a strain quite unknowingly by the use of Lutino birds. Lutinos, of course, can be "split" for the Blue series like any other Green coloured birds, and consequently, Albinos can arise from the pairing together of two Lutinos or any other pairing which can produce Lutinos. In the same way as a pair of Green/Blues will produce blue coloured chicks so will a pair of Lutino Green/Blues produce Albinos.

If an Opaline Green/Lutino cock is mated to an Opaline Green hen all the young will be Opalines, but some of the young hens will also be Lutinos. In fact, they will be Lutino Opalines and appear to the eye as ordinary Lutinos.

Opalines in Lutino Production

I mention this fact as a great many Opalines have been used in Lutino production, mostly on account of their good exhibition qualities. It is, however, possible to detect the opaline character when carried by some Lutinos by examining the birds in a good light when the shadow pattern markings of the Opaline can be seen.

The production of Albinos follows a similar pattern to those mentioned in the above paragraphs, substituting, of course, the Blue series birds for the Greens. With Albinos there is a slight difference in the suffusion visible on their rumps and flanks, and in this connection it would seem that the use of Grey series birds for crossing is beneficial as the suffusion seen on Albino Greys is decidedly less than that usually shown by Albinos of the ordinary Blue series.

I have mentioned the value of the Grey character when producing good Albinos, but I have always found the Lutino form of the Grey series not so rich in colouring as those of ordinary Green series and, there should not be in general used for introducing colour in a Lutino strain. Sometimes, of course, the breeder will use Grey Green to introduce substance and quality into his particular strain, but it should only be done with great care and only on special occasions.

There are numerous theories in existence as to the best method breeding well-coloured Lutinos, but 1 have always found that selective breeding, together with the use of Dark Greens, gives the most satisfactory results.

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