Color Varieties of Seney chickens
Many color varieties were created for the Seney breed of chicken and as many were discontinued for various reasons. One important factor was cost and space. Seney birds were BIG! They may look like fancy bantams in a picture, but some of them rivaled the sizes of White Rocks and Brahmas. Housing many color varieties was not a sustainable proposition. While I could create any color of a chicken, I could not house them all or afford to feed them all. And what do you do with a ton of eggs each day? I got to the point of hard boiling them and feeding them back to the chickens as food. And we ate a LOT of chicken!
That fact was, I could have created any color variety know to a chicken... from scratch, and made them into a Seney. That might seem like a simple thing to do, but when I say scratch, I mean by starting with birds that do not have the color or type already. Many color varieties are very complex because of necessary modifier alleles and the Seney type is extremely complicated because of the sheer amount of special alleles needed to make it.
One of the colors I worked on for a long time was Mille Fleur. Another was Porcelain. These can be very complex to assemble. I never really felt that I polished the colors, but most were every bit as good as any from a hatchery. No Bantam was ever used when creating a color. That would have been too easy and I needed to prove that I could make the color for standard sized birds without cheating. Furthermore, I did not wish to fight size reducing genes. Seney chickens needed to be BIG.
I decided to end my tenure just as the final Porcelains were completed. That was my last goal. In-fact, I don't believe I have any photos of them. I was very disheartened when I came to terms with the ragged-feather phenotype that was linked to (or a result of) the Lavender gene used in creating a Porcelain. As you may find on my site, I always bred for sustainability. That one bad trait made them unsustainable in my eyes.
Below you will find the established color varieties of Seneys that I createdfollowed by some special projects that I was working on before I stopped raising chickens.
The Wheaten color is the original color created and was the first color to achieve the "extreme" feather leggings.
Male Wheatens should have burnt orange hackles and saddles with the center of the hackle feathers being bronze. Black should not be dominant through the hackle or saddle. A slight amount of black at the very distal ends of the lower hackle feathers is okay. Birds with the slight black at the ends of the hackle generally have black beards. The back will be part black and part red. The shoulders will be red. Variability in the color of males is normally in the beard and the point in front of the tail. Some are cream or black colored there. Male tails will exhibit a slight edging of brown.
In regards to female color, the Standard of Perfection clearly shows that female wheaten breeds have been accepted in several different shades of wheaten. The Seney Wheaten exhibited two shades that were affected by a red modifier allele.
The Mille Fleur color I created from scratch is the original Mille Fleur color described in the Standard of Perfection. They were slightly darker than the current "show" Mille Fleur Bantams for this reason. The problem with the color "Mille Fleur" is the fact that present day judges award ribbons to lighter colored Mille Fleurs than those described in the Standard of Perfection. Part of this may have stemmed from the color prints in the books which can be misleading at times. The new Mille Fleur color has an undercolor that is cinnamon instead of the slate color as required in the Standard of Perfection. Because of this, the "show" Mille Fleur Bantams from other breeders are lighter in color in general. This caused me much grief in deciding which way to go with the Seney Mille Fleur color. I decided to stick with the description of the Standard.
I should point out that any young chicken with the mottling alleles (that creates the speckles) will not have as many spots as two-year olds and older.
No Mille Fleur chickens were used to create this color.
My Speckled Mahogany chickens were much like the color of a Speckled Sussex. However, one must pay close attention to detail. And therein lies the difference. A Speckled Mahogany Seney had more dark "Red" in the males where a Speckled Sussex will have more black to achieve its dark coloring.
This was the color that I wanted to create almost from day-one. At one point the project was abandoned for lack of progress. Then one day out of the blue, one cockerel began to grow golden feathers. Wow! The "key" recessive allele for this color survived and finally met up with another (homozygous). Males had a distinct black and gold look. The hackles were golden yellow-orange with a slight bronze stripe in the middle of the hackle feathers. There was no black in the hackles. A slight amount of black at the distal ends was acceptable. The hackle feathers had a ghost barring pattern because of the key allele. This was a "true breeding" golden phenotype (unlike the sex-linked silver|gold heterozygous condition in males of other breeds). Female Crème Wheatens had a golden-orange wheaten color with no black in their hackles. Unlike "golden" females of other breeds, mine were not silver based and therefore bred true for color.
This color is extremely difficult to create. While I could recreate it, I would not. Why? To get the alleles requires crossing out into a breed of chicken that is highly inbred and carries too many genes that I would need to get rid of. It just isn't worth the time. (Many years)
Making a Porcelain from scratch is not for the faint at heart. They are incredibly difficult to get right. I have always loved this color and my final goal was to create it. As soon as it was complete I ended my tenure with chickens.
The two adult pictures above are of the Porcelain project birds before they were completed. Obviously they do not look like porcelains and they do not even have all of the Seney traits. The female on the right is the base color for the Porcelains. She did have one mottling allele and was used for breeding. The hen on the left has the new tassel feature on her head. While it did help to eliminate some of the comb on single comb varieties, it was not as appealing as I once thought it would be.
The two lower pictures were the last photos I had of the Porcelain chickens. The pictured cockerel has all of the Seney features (including the new tassel feature) in the single combed variety and had the color completed. He looks a bit worse for the wear because he is in a transition phase between feathers. His tail was low because he was a bit intimidated by the lighting and handling.
The Porcelains were absolutely beautiful birds when they were adults. I wish I had taken pictures before I parted with them. These were the only fancy standard-sized Porcelain chickens in the world. To get an indication of their size, this guy was only a few weeks old and was standing on the back side of a Rubbermaid kitchen sink dish-rack pad. No Porcelain bantams were using in making this color.
Would I suggest that somebody make this color? No. There are simply too many culls because of the ragged feather phenotype. I say "phenotype" because at the time that I stopped raising chickens I had not come to a definitive conclusion if the ragged feather phenotype was a linked allele or a byproduct of the Lavender allele. If it is a linked allele, then I would suggest that somebody hatch a thousand chicks and break the link before using the Lavender allele in a project like this. I did have some beautiful birds that were not ragged, so there is a possibility to fix the problem. (Note the hen in the upper right on this page.) I might have even broken the linkage. However, to make such a claim, one would need to segregate the split allele by crossbreeding to a non-lavender bird and then inbreed those F1 independently in a "line" to anothernon-Lavender bird so the one split lavender allele can work all by itself. You then need to hatch a tone of F3 chicks to get just a few Lavender phenotype again to see if you were lucky enough to get the split allele. (50% of the lines will be the non-split allele) In order for this to work, at least ten independent lines would need to be established. Yeah, that is a lot of work, time, money, and facilities.
Lemon Chiffon Lavendel
Lemo9n Chiffon Lavendel was never fully completed. This color project came about from experiments with the Porcelain project. It was never completed, but I posted the pictures I have for those that are curious about this project. In its basic sense, the color phenotype is a lemon colored hackle and saddle draped over a lavender color. (Hence, the name) This color IS NOT a Lemon Blue. The genotype is completely different. However, if one looks at Lemon Blue in the Standard of Perfection, they may look identical to where I was going. As with the Porcelains, this color suffered from the same ragged feather phenotype that came with the lavender allele, as can be see in the above cockerel.
Speckled Lavender seemed like a cool project... until I made them. They are not difficult to make at all. After completing them, I didn't really like the shade of lavender at all. In-fact, it appears that I didn't even take a full set of pictures to get a picture of a male. This color had the head tassels.
Pure lavender as a color is not all that difficult to make. I stopped going any further with this color, but kept it near the end in-case somebody wished to pick it up. The hen above is beautiful, but lacked the yellow legs. I could have perfected the color and type within two more generations. In the end, it was not one of my favorite colors. By now you may have a clue that I like bright colors.
There is one point we would like to make. There are many discussions on "self blue" and "lavender." They are one and the same for genotype. In other words, people are using two different words for the same physical color. Both color names require homozygous lavender (lav) alleles at its locus point on the chromosome. (lav|lav).
However, one must not confuse the color "self blue" with the color "blue." They are two entirely different genotypes using a different allele at a different location on a chromosome. To try to explain this, first let's call the (Bl) allele "blue", and (lav) allele "lavender." The Bl allele makes blue like that in an Andalusian Blue and a Blue Wheaten. The lav allele makes "self blue" (a.k.a. lavender). One way to remember this is to remember that the self breeding blue (using lav alleles) requires two recessive alleles (lav|lav) at the same locus point to make the color. Once the color is made and the female and male have this color (both are homozygous lavender),then they will ALWAYS produce this color by themselves. (No need to cross out to a non-lavender bird to make it)
The Blue allele (located at a different locus point than the lavender alleles) is a dominant allele that makes blue with only one allele (Bl). If there aretwo blue alleles(Bl|Bl), then the color that is produced is called "splash" and it is NOT blue at all. If a mating pair of chickens are homozygous for blue alleles (all are splash), they will always produce 100% splash birds. To make blue, they cannot do it by themselves (not self). They would need a bird with NO blue alleles to cross with. When you do this, you get 100% blue birds. (all are heterozygous for blue as in Bl|bl) The best way to stay out of one of these arguments is to drop the name "self blue" and call birds with lav alleles "Lavender" and birds with the Bl alleles "Blue." Also note, that you can get the blue phenotype with two blue mates, however, the ratio of chickens will be 25% no-blue, 50% blue, and 25% splash. That means that there are 50% residual chicks that do not adhere to the color blue. The benefit of the blue allele is that it does NOT have the ragged feather problem that the lav alleles have.
The color name "Meteor" actually describes the look of the male. The head and hackles will be a ghost barred golden that is streaked in black and white. This color will traverse to the saddle feathers that will be similar in color. The body of the bird will be black with white speckles. The name signifies that the head is the "meteor" and the saddle is the trail of light from it. The body is the black night sky with stars. I do not have a picture of the matching female. The genotype of this bird is very complex. There is no known color like it so we had to create a new color name. When you look at this guy and the female in the porcelain project above, you should begin to get a sense of just how differently these birds really are as a breed. One can't just put "this" with "that" and expect to get these results. And no, this is not "Spangled BBR".
I began to work on this color late; therefore, it was never completed.
Black Mottled was a step in the direction of Speckled Lavender. I considered bringing it forward if somebody wanted it, but like some of the other colors, it was late in development and I stopped raising chickens before it was completed. I do not have any individual pictures of this color, hence the reason she is with others.
I hope that you enjoyed looking at the pictures and maybe learned a tiny bit about chicken genetics. The chicken genome is a fascinating hobby with thousands of combinations that a person could come up with. Enjoy your birds!