THE MOTTLED GENE ( mo )
The mottled gene ( mo ) was discovered in 1930 by Amundson and Milne and is one of the most controversial and least documented of all the genes.
In Orpingtons mo is partly responsible for the Mille Fleur pattern of the Jubilee Orpington and the normal mottled variety but although both these colours are influenced by mo they have a different mix of other genes that cause the two separate distinct feather patterns. This gene is varied in its expression from indistinct irregular mottles to a uniform even distribution and the desired even mottling is only obtainable by years of careful selection.
The mottling gene does not cause a white splodge on top of the normal feather colour but in fact when the feather is being grown causes a lack of pigment on the first tip of the feather , followed by a black band and then the rest of the feather takes on the bird’s particular ground colour
This is another recessive gene so in theory for a bird to express mottles both parents would have to carry the gene. However in practice a degree of mottling can appear on a bird that only had one mottled parent. I have noticed that my split mottled birds often have white wing tips and the odd faint mottles.
Mottled Orpingtons are a colour for the patient breeder and aiming for perfection is a slow and long process. Mottled Orpington growers can show little expression of the mottles and only after the first moult into their adult plumage do they show their full colour. But over the years after each consecutive moult the mottling can increase to show a greater expanse of white and thus causing a blurred and muddled appearance. Also the mottled expression on an individual feather can change so if a perfectly mottled feather was plucked on its regrowth it may either return the same, increase the mottling or show no signs of mottling.
Because the mottling gene causes a lack of pigment and is not a colour changing gene it can be introduced onto any solid colour but remembering that if any colour diluting genes are also present that the black band will either change colour or become less visible.
For example my Large Fowl Black Mottled Orpingtons still have a pigment free tip to the feather followed by a Black band and then followed by a Black ground colour to the rest of the feather.
But because the band and the ground colour are the same it gives the appearance of just a white tipped feather but if you inspect the feather closely the black band is a dull black and the rest of the feather is a brighter black with the desired Orpington Green sheen.
So if I chose to breed Mottled Blue Orpingtons then the action of the Blue gene would cause both the Black band and the ground colour of the feather to become Blue thus causing the appearance of a white tipped Blue feather.
Because the Mille Fleur pattern of the Jubilee Orpington contains a different mix of genes to the standard mottled variety it if possible to change just the colour of the black band.
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