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Dumb Question About Genetic Diversity

Discussion in 'General breed discussions & FAQ' started by SkyWarrior, Sep 12, 2010.

  1. SkyWarrior

    SkyWarrior Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 2, 2010
    Wilds of Montana
    Okay, maybe not so dumb, but if I open a can of worms, please don't yell at me. [​IMG]

    I was thinking about getting some roosters (if my current crop of chicks doesn't have any) and breeding to perpetuate my flock. It occurred to me that as I'm looking at the big hatcheries, I really don't know how diverse the genetics of chicks they sell. I mean, if I buy chicks from Hatchery X and breed them, how much inbreeding/line breeding goes into these birds? I mean, honestly, you can harm a breed by having a limited number of breeding pairs because of hereditary diseases. I understand this well, having been a dog breeder and show handler as well as a musher. I've been reading books about chickens and I read about the ALBC and the conservation status. The thought that a basic farm animal and food supply could need conserving boggles my mind.

    So, I'm just more or less asking ignorant and naive questions. Are chicken genetics endangered with becoming less diverse? Should I be looking to purchase chicks from difference sources to vary the genetics? How ugly is the concept of outcrossing or crossing two breeds together? I'm not planning on showing or becoming a big chicken breeder -- it's just something I want to sustain my own flock.

    Thanks for your comments. I look forward to learning.
     
  2. ericsplls

    ericsplls Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I don't think chicken genetics are as complex as a dogs so are much more forgiving. I think for most breeds there are enough birds that genetic diversity isn't a problem. There are people that have closed flocks that have bred alot of generations off of two original birds without problems.
     
  3. ericsplls

    ericsplls Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Any excuse to buy more chicks is good also
     
  4. gottsegnet

    gottsegnet Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Nebraska
    I can't answer, exactly, but that's one reason we're looking at getting birds from two different places when we begin breeding. Do you have someone you can trade out roos with? That would be my ideal.

    My grandfather raised pigs and once he was ready to keep back piglets, he's get rid of his boar and get a new one from somewhere else who could do the job for all the sows on the farm, moms and daughters. I'm sure it's the same for chickens.

    And I've read that the increasing popularity of backyard flocks isn't helping the genetic diversity as much as one might like because they're all still coming from the same few places.
     
  5. Henk69

    Henk69 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:The problem in dog breeding is that the inbreeding is better organized. Champion males can be used by other breeders to fertilize their females quite easily (it is lucrative). Chickenbreeders need their own stock.
    If chicken offspring is worn down genetically, it is culled. Not so in dogs.
     
  6. gottsegnet

    gottsegnet Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Nebraska
    Oh, good dog breeders "cull" but in a different way. They're sold as "pet quality" and neutered or spayed. The problem isn't with ethical and serious breeders but with everyone who decides to have puppies for the fun of it, or like our old neighbors decide it's cheaper to deliver all the pups to the pound every year than get the dog spayed.
     
  7. Buttercup Chillin

    Buttercup Chillin Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 27, 2008
    SouthEast TX
    Generally, getting stock from at leat 3 different sources has been a commonly held way of keeping genetic diversity in chickens as well as developing new breeds. You can get them at once and cross breed them hatching out 100 chicks or more to choose breeders from for the next years breeders and have a closed flock. 100 minimum per year is usually used as a magic number. Using the rules of 10 or 10% for culling purposes. (Keep only 10% of each hatch and of each years hatch, culling the rest). We used to hatch out and grow out at least 300 chicks a year. Now I hatch year round but only raise a little over 100 chicks, that's all we need.

    Another way is to start out with your flock, next year bring in another source of the same breed, and so forth the following year. If you keep or hatch out 100 chicks each year you should have a good genetic selection to choose from for a sustainable flock. With very little new blood having to come in and endangering your flock. If you find a need for that at a later time, I would suggest that you get eggs and hatch them yourself.

    The real question is how many chicks do you want or need? Any that are not healthy or have any deformity should be culled (killed) immediately. A sustainable flock needs healthy chicks, or it won;t be sustainable for very long.

    By using the Stantard of Perfection for the breed of choice you should soon reach a good line of chickens to get you started...... However, be aware the the standard does not address, egg laying abilities, broodiness, proportions for meat, if you are raising chickens for meat, etc. The standard is set for pretty birds of such and such shape. It is not there for sustainability, at all.

    For a sustainable flock, cull heavily. The first few years will find you culling more than later depending on what you want in your flock. I let them grow out to meat size before I cull. Depending on the breed, that can be anywhere from 12-20 weeks or more for the largest breeds. If color and comb is important to you, then some need to grow out for 1 year or more. My Buttercup Roos take 2 years to fully develope their combs.

    It can be alot of fun and like someone said, you get to eat the end results.
     
  8. NYREDS

    NYREDS Overrun With Chickens

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    There are about eleventy two threads on here where this issue has been discussed.
    In this thread you have already gotten some bad advise. The notion that you need to start out with multiple strains of a breed to achieve success is 180 out. In fact the surest way to screw up a strain is to blindly outcross with another strain, never mind two other strains. It just isn't necessary.
    If all you want to do is produce chickens then cross what ever you want with whatever you want. If you're actually interested in "conserving" something learn & follow the principles of line breeding.
    I have been breeding a strain of Rhode Island Red Bantams for close to 25 years w/o adding any "new Blood". They lay well, hatch at over 90% & win fairly regularly at shows. Frequen &/or multiple outcrosses are not only not necessary they're usually counterproductive.
     
  9. jrobertson

    jrobertson Robertson's Rare Poultry

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    Quote:chickens are nothing like pigs. pigs cannot be bred 1 generation in without chancing major problems. if you breed a boar to his daughters or a sow to her son or even siblings together, there is a good good chance of at least half of the litter being born deformed or dead, if not all of them.
     
  10. NYREDS

    NYREDS Overrun With Chickens

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    Quote:chickens are nothing like pigs. pigs cannot be bred 1 generation in without chancing major problems. if you breed a boar to his daughters or a sow to her son or even siblings together, there is a good good chance of at least half of the litter being born deformed or dead, if not all of them.

    Let me add, it's absolutely not the same with chickens.
     

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