Lethal Homozygous (Y) Gene in quail

This short reply was written by me as result of a Facebook discussion

2013-10-24 - Italian Coturnix 2

2013-10-24 - Italian Coturnix 9

  • I select and breed all my animals for functional efficiency, as I have done all my life, not only in breeding my own animals but also when involved in establishing new cattle and horse breeds in the past, as well as advising Governments, large International Organisations and many thousands of Farmers around the world. I breed with poultry as they come out of the egg, without having to interfere with them to be able to survive and breed. I select and cull heavily, especially when the gene pool is as limited as it is in New Zealand for the breeds I am interested in. As for the Lethal homozygous Y gene associated with Golden Italian Quails, I failed to have read any article reporting hatchability between strains under the same commercial conditions and report on comparable results, nor have I found any reputable body advising to never breed Golden Quails to Golden Quails. In my own case, over a period of three months, using 480 quail hatching eggs (120 from each of the four strains I breed at present –  All purebred) I quote the following results for animals alive after 24 hours of terminating the hatch : Golden Italian – 74.3 % (Variation 66.7 % to 83.1 %) ; Tibetan – 83.2 % (Variation 79.1 % – 90.0 %)  ; Pharoah 75.0% (Variation 73.3 % – 76.7 %) and White – 68.9 % (Variation 56.7 % – 76.7%). I do not for one moment doubt the work that has been done in identifying and mapping the genetics of the Golden Italian Quail, but clearly there is more to it than say you have 25% embryo mortality and that is it. As an example there exist a plumage color mutation Yt2 that is dominant over the yellow (Y) gene and produce fawn or yellow birds almost exactly like the heterezygous Y, but is not lethal. There are also many other malformations and abnormalities controlled by one or few genes, as well as many other lethal genes in Quails. I am aware of a number of commercial operations using purebred Golden Italian strains of Coturnix coturnix japonica with great success. There are also some reports quoting 100% hatchability in purebred Golden Italian strains of quail. Any poultry will experience embryo mortality at some level and the results I have achieved with Golden Italians prove that I am on the right track and there is no real difference at present with the strains available to me in New Zealand. Inbreeding, indiscriminate breeding and failure to identify and eliminate hereditary defects are doing the damage to poultry breeds in New Zealand. I am also not against breeding fancy breeds – it is a lot of fun, but do it sensibly.