In spite of the fact that our birds inherit important determining genes from both parents, exciting research in epigenetics has recently shown that these same inherited genes can be turned on and off by exposure to environmental factors such as diet.
It seems that when enough methyl groups (which consists of a carbon atom bonded to three hydrogen atoms) attach to a section of DNA or a histone (a protein that DNA strands can wrap themselves around), a gene can become less active or turned off. Or desirable genes can be switched on when enough acetyl groups (which consist of two carbon atoms, one oxygen atom, and three hydrogen atoms) attach to histone.
Genes turning on can produce remarkable results but likewise silencing an undesirable gene can also be a good thing if blocking means better health. I dream about the implications of gene control facilitating good human health and disease prevention but I also dream of how understanding and controlling our birds genes could produce the perfect bird, we all strive to produce, but we just aren't there yet!
For now, I must be content to keep a close watch my birds and look for feather changes that I can be attributed to what I am feeding them. When you get their nutrition right, genes do their thing and the results is improved feather quality so much that the feathers hug the body like a glove and even look more intense and even confirmation lines dramatically improve.
Take a look at the Border show standard. The beautiful confirmation lines of a show Border are only reached when good birds achieve perfect health. Even a day later after supplementing with the right vitamins, you can see their heads and backs round and suddenly birds that you thought were not even good enough to take to a show, when the genes are stimulated with the right vitamins, these same birds magically look like real winners!