Breeding Alexandrine Mutations: The Lutino
The First Generation G1
The Second Generation G2
The Third Generation G3
Generation Next Gn
What about the Lutino Cock?
Responsibilities of the Breeder
Disclaimer: I do not claim to be an expert on breeding Alexandrine mutations. I have some experience of breeding Ringnecks and cockatiel mutations. What has been presented above is an extrapolation of my experience and the information gathered from the net. If you find any mistakes or inaccuracies in the above please let me know. All feedback is welcome.
The Alexandrine is a beautiful bird similar in appearance to the Indian Ringneck. The characteristics that distinguish an alexandrine from an Indian Ringneck include red-brown shoulder patches, a wider neck ring and larger size. While the Indian Ringneck is available in several color mutations the Alexandrine is generally available only in the normal green. It is possible to produce Alexandrine colour mutations by hybridizing the Alexandrine with the Indian Ringneck. Such a program however requires a long term commitment, space and responsible breeding practices to be successful and to preserve the purity of both species. In this article a breeding program is outlined that breeds a sex-linked mutation such as Lutino into the Alexandrines.
To start the breeding program you need a good normal Alexandrine and a Lutino Ringneck. There are two options at the start of the program.
1) A Lutino Ringneck cock paired to a normal Alexandrine hen
2) Normal Alexandrine cock paired to a Lutino Ringneck hen
Option 1 reportedly produces low quality Lutino hens and split cocks in the first generation. The birds lack size and fertility problems arise during the breeding program.
For the purpose of this article we will focus on the second option namely a Normal Alexandrine Cock paired to a Lutino Ringneck hen.
Select the best Alexandrine cock available. Look for a large sized bird, with large and well colored wing patches. The wing patches are the trademark of Alexandrines. Do not compromise on this feature at this stage. The Lutino hen should be the largest you can find and free from any defects.
This pairing will produce all visually green birds. The birds will display wing patches which are smaller and duller than pure normal Alexandrines. The cocks will be split for lutino whereas the hens will not carry the lutino gene at all. The hens are therefore not useful in this breeding program and may therefore be sold as pets. The chicks from the first generation may be DNA sexed to identify the cocks. This will allow you to focus on raising only the birds useful to the program and plan ahead. All cocks from this generation are retained.
Select a pure
Normal Alexandrine hen with good wing patches to be paired to the best split Alexandrine cock from G1. This pairing will produce the next generation G2. In G2 you will get cocks that are split to Lutino, cocks that do not carry the Lutino Gene, hens that do not carry the Lutino Gene and Yes Lutino Hens! The hens produced at this stage will lack size and will have smaller wing patches than the normal Alexandrine. We therefore need to keep working and move to the next generation. The cocks produced in this generation may or may not be split to Lutino. Only test breeding with normal Alexandrine hens will reveal whether or not the Lutino gene is carried. It is therefore best to proceed forward using only the Lutino hens produced here.
Here we will pair a good unrelated normal green Alexandrine cock to our best Lutino “Alexandrine” hen. This pairing will produce results similar to those in G1.
All the chicks will be visually Green. All the cocks will be split to Lutino and the hens will not carry the Lutino gene. Again we will retain the cocks and the hens will be released from the breeding program.
The pairing in the fourth generation G4 will be similar to that in the second generation G2. A Split Lutino Cock from G3 is paired to an unrelated good pure normal green Alexandrine hen. The results will also be the same as for G2. You will again get some Lutino hens but this time hopefully bigger and better than those in G2.
The cycle is repeated where the pairing and results in G5 are similar to those in G1 and G3. G6 would be similar to G4 and G2. With each generation the size and features resemble more and more closely to the normal Alexandrine. Around the fifth generation it becomes very difficult to see any major differences between the normal and the Lutino Alexandrine.
In what has been described above we have been able to produce Lutino hens and Cocks split to Lutino (but visually green.) So how do we get the Lutino cock? The pairing required is a Lutino Alexandrine hen from G4 or G6 paired to a Split Lutino Cock from G3 or G5. This pairing will produce Split Lutino Cocks, visually green hens that do not carry the Lutino gene, Lutino hens and finally the Lutino Cock. Breeding a Lutino cock should only be attempted once the Lutino hen has been bred to a size and quality comparable to the normal Alexandrine.
Going from one generation to the other requires a period of 2-3 years. Arriving at a G4 hen would mean waiting for a period of 7-10 years. So if you are in the habit of eating instant noodles this program is not for you. Furthermore, while it is easy to predict the probabilities it is beyond human control what you actually get from a clutch. Even though you expected to get a Lutino hen from a clutch of four you may not get any or if you are lucky the only egg that hatched might give you the Lutino hen you were looking for. Patience is the key. If your record keeping is accurate and you are patient then you will eventually be able to get what you were looking for.
In any breeding program good record keeping is of the essence. In the program described above that could span 1 or even 2 decades the importance of accurate records cannot be over emphasized. All birds must be banded with unique IDs and their hatch date recorded with the IDs of the parents. Additional genetic information such as splits must also be recorded if known.
It is important to stress here that the birds that are no longer useful in this breeding program must not be sold to unsuspecting breeders as an Alexandrine or a Ringneck. Such a practice would result in polluting the gene pool of both species. It is best to sell these birds as pets so that there is little chance that they would be bred at all.