Genetics and Breeding Show Budgies

All the features of a budgerigar are inherited not just the varieties such as Ino or Recessive Pied.

The following information is the holy grail of successful Budgerigar Breeding.  It is only conciously known by a relatively small number of the worlds greatest breeders, but subconciously many successful breeders adhere to these rules.  Much of the content of this section of the website has been reproduced and modified with the kind permission of the original author - Phil Hodgkins.

When you visit a long-stablished breeder, their birds will tend to be similar in many ways - they will have been inbred to a degree and will have many genes in common so their appearances will be alike. This is what you should also aim for - but only for desireable features. These genes these bird have will be inherited recessive, dominant or sex-linked and to establish them through out your own stud, it will be easier if you know their method of inheritance.  This means that you can apply the three rules of inheritance; dominant, recessive and sex-linked; to breeding that beautiful Best in Show bird.

To establish what inheritance rule applies for each factor can take a very long time - it may take several years before you have enough off-spring from particular pairs to see a pattern. There are a few things to look for that can shorten this period:

  1. Some chicks from a nest show characteristics that do not appear in either of the parents - these characteristics must be recessive. On average, 25% of the chicks will show the characteristic - but don't rely upon this fraction unless you have a very large number of offspring and even then 20-30% would likely to be the result.
  2. 100% of the chicks from a particular bird, show the same characteristic as the parent may indicate that the characteristic is dominant and the bird has the characteristic on both of its respective genes (double-factor).  Some breeders would refer to such a bird as 'prepotent'.
  3. If a cock with a characteristic produces 100% hens with this characteristic and no cocks unless paired with a hen with the same feature, the characteristic is probably sex-linked.

To do this, you will need to keep extensive records - the characteristics of each parent and off-spring.

When you have established the rule for a characteristic, you can use the rule to either spread it across your stud (e.g. large spots) or eradicate it (e.g. hinged tail).

  1. If a desired trait is dominant, you can safely get rid of birds which do not show it.
  2. If it is recessive, you can pair up splits for it, or a visual with a split, and know that you will probably get chicks showing it.

Unfortunately, there are many features of a budgie which are affected by many genes, e.g. the general shape/size of budgie, but you can still isolate many features that may rely upon a single gene (spot size, spot shape, number of spots, etc.).