Genetics of Chicken Colours book

It all started with this book.
Best is to publish the review of a reader who wrote this just after the book was introduced. When was that? In 2009? Meanwhile the book is revised in small parts a few times. Some things are added, although minor changes of new research.
But 99.9% is unchanged. Actually the little changes are references to research papers. A big update is still not necessary because the genes discussed are as they are and established.

The review of the book:

The Genetics of Chicken Colours by Sigrid van Dort & Friends, edited by David Hancox.
The 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 editor 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.

About 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. (wish fulfilled in 2011, Sigs ).
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.


This is still the most informative written review for potential readers of Genetics of Chicken Colours.
Meanwhile we are 10+ years further and the genetics of chickens are now part of many breeders’ lives.
On facebook lots of experiences are shared and I’m pleased that my ‘weird’ ways of describing gene actions are used throughout the world.
Not only what the genes do: ‘pushing black off the chicken to the outer ends’ or ‘leaking of ground colour (gold, silver or both) in hackle’ or ‘wheaten hates black’ but also ‘hysterical mottled’ when the expression of mottled goes mental for (still) whatever reason.
Who is familiar with talking genetics this way, experiences a feeling of excitement while doing so, 😀
We talk about genetics as if it is a psychological thriller and thrilled we are when something unusual pops up. And more and more breeders and pet breeders share this feeling all over the world because the language of genetics is international, it is the same everywhere due to the ancient research lingo introduced in the book.

Even research papers today still use the old nomenclatura of the genes in their introduction of a new discovery. That is lovely really. In the first decade of the 2000s geneticists were using only the new way of giving names to genes, which was abracadabra, now both. So the papers make sense to us too, in case you want to dive into them. Really good stuff for a Sunday morning. But if you prefer Donald Duck language, or thriller language, stick to the genetics book presented here and join one of the communities that share their discoveries or ask specific questions.

Below an overview of several different pages:

Genetics of Chicken Colours by Sigrid van Dort, overview of pages.
  • The Genetics of Chicken Colours book
  • is € 75 and € 2 bookwrap so it will arrive undamaged. Postage Europe: € 12,95 registered
  • (total € 89,95) Postage to the rest of the world € 17,95 registered (total € 94,95)Books are always sent registered
  • I sign your book with soft pencil so you can see it is not a printed signature and add a gift.

Genetics of chicken colours, incl. postage €94,95
World (US, Russia, Australia etc)

Genetics of chicken colours, incl. postage €89,95
Europe & UK


I hope you become part of the group of breeders who don’t buy old knowledge anymore ‘because it is’ and stop being confused by contradictory or ‘illogical’ comments.
The new generation of breeders, of all ages, rather sticks to science, instead of opinions. Of course there is room for tweaks, like gene expression and interactions of genes. When you’ve read this book you can recognise clearly what is opinion and what is fact 😉