Mottled Orpington



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 colors 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 color 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 color

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 color 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 color 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.

But because the band and the ground color 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.

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 color of the black band.
All information was obtained with permission from Keith Gibbons
With the introduction of new birds into the USA there are issues with limited gene pool and the Mottled Orpington was no exception.

Several years ago the Mottled Orpington was imported to the USA.  The few hens that arrived were lost and only the roosters were available for propagating
the breed.  It was thought that the Jubilee would be a good choice in this task, however, that was not the case.    The Mottled Orp and the Jubilee actually
contain a
different mix of genes.    

We have done extensive research on the genetic color issue that has resulted from this cross and have discussed it with several breed
To date, April 2014, there are no Mottled Orpingtons in the USA, that we are aware of, that have not been bred from the original Mottled Orps that were bred
to the Jubilees.  While it has been several generations since the cross to the Jubilee, the red gene is still there.  A percentage of the resulting offspring
will have red feathers.  The roosters will display it, and although the hens do not, they do carry the red gene and can pass it on. The resulting
chicks with the red feathers
are not Jubilees and should not be crossed back to the Jubilees.  

This probably all sounds very confusing and it certainly would seem like one would be able to breed out of this gene, but it is not that simple with these two
particular varieties.  
We have decided to share one of the conversations we had to better explain this, please read on:  
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Mottle Orpington Breed Standards:

Eye Color -  Brown-red or Brown
Beak - Horn color (light gray) or white with some horn color
Legs - Black with white spots-  correct leg color is pictured below
Hi Nellie,
I have been talking to a lot of American breeders on facebook recently, and they are receiving some really bad advice regarding just this. I’m afraid now
they have crossed the spangleds to jubilees, you will never get rid of the red feathers. The females carry it, the males present with it, it can even skip a
generation, or two, and then re-appear!
When you were told to outcross, what they should have told you, was that will improve your jubilees, and is how to do it, you can only outcross a jubilee to a
spangled, nothing else, But, and it’s a big but, you must cull any spangleds that come out from the results of that mating because they will all have the red

The only thing you can outcross a spangled to to improve them would be a pure black, not a black from BBS lines, a pure black, and it’s usually the second
generation when bred back together, that will show spots, the first gen will have spots, but they will disappear as the chicks moult out into adult feathers.
Because to keep them, both parents must have the mottling gene, only one copy is passed on in the first mating, which is why offspring need to go back to
pure spangled, or it takes until generation 2 to lock them in, if bred back together.

Back to jubilee. You can out cross a jubilee to a spangled, but only once every 3 years anymore, and you will loose the mahogany, because jubilee is
a tri-band gene, and a spangled is a double band gene. So by outcrossing more often, you’ll loose the tri-band eventually, once outcrossed, and it really
doesn’t matter whether you use a spangled female, under a jube male, or the other way round, you MUST cull any spangled chicks, and the jubilee chicks,
MUST go back to a pure jubilee to lock in that all important tri-gene. The first lot of jubilee chicks, may appear a little darker than usual, as the black band is
a little broader from the outcross, this is also why they need to go back to a pure jubilee.

Hope that’s the information you needed. I’m really sorry, but the bottom line is, the spangleds you got from the jube outcross, should really all be culled,
unless you can use them to improve your jubilees further down the line, if they are better in type and size, that’s really the only thing you can do with them.

Yours Faithfully,
We have been ask by many people why we are not breeding the incredibly beautiful
Mottled Orpington.  We will explain this in the next few paragraphs so please read
(There is more information and breed standards on the Mottled Orp at the bottom of this page.)
Picture examples
Mottled Orpington with red bleed through
Mottled Orpingtons
Jubilee Rooster
Mottled Orpington with
red bleed through
The biggest visual difference is that the Jubilee is a mahogany base bird, and
the Mottled Orp with red feathers is still a black base bird. It is especially
apparent in the chest area, the Mottled Orp rooster is completely black with
white feather tips, but has red through in the hackles and saddle area.
The recipe for breeding out of the red feathers would be as follows: (If it could be done)

Step one: Breed Mottled to Solid Black - resulting offspring will have very little if any mottling -
Grow these chicks out and cull any with red feathers.  Take the best offspring from this mating
(with no
red feathers)
and breed brother/sister together.   The results will yield chicks with mottling.  You
would need to grow these out and cull any with red feathers.

Take the best chicks from this mating and breed to a sold black again
 (not related to the first black
.  Repeat step one for at least 4 generations using a different sold black for each generation to
promote good gene diversity.

The Challenge:  Since the hens hide the red gene there is no way to know if the hen chosen in
each generation is actually harboring the red gene
(without genetic testing) until it shows itself in
subsequent generations.  That's what makes it particularly difficult with the mottled orps as apposed
to other color varieties.   They are very unique as well as incredibly beautiful.
This variety is not available
This page is for information only