1. If this is your first time on BYC, we suggest you start with one of these three options:
    Raising Chickens Chicken Coops Join BYC
    If you're already a member of our community, click here to login & click here to learn what's new!

Genetic Diversity?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by PeiTheCelt, Sep 6, 2007.

  1. PeiTheCelt

    PeiTheCelt Chillin' With My Peeps

    289
    1
    141
    Sep 3, 2007
    Central NY
    So we're starting this crazy process that is chicken keeping, and are incubating our first round of chickies. But I'm already obsessing over the spring and what we'll do when they're of breeding age and all.

    We are planning on having ~12-20 birds, including a couple of roosters. Although we're *not* planning on letting all the fertile eggs that are laid hatch, I do plan on letting a few birds be born every year (that whole predation and "stuff happens" thing), but I'm worried about genetic diversity. I plan on, depending on how many babies we get out of this hatch, picking up a few non-related birds in the spring to add to the mix, but, these chickens are the result of a fairly closed system (mutts) on a friend's farm (I'm sure that she introduces some outside stock, but not much, 3 roosters and probably 15-20 hens, and I think that everything she currently has was born on the premises of other birds that were born on the premises, etc.).

    Now, looking at dogs (and European Royal Families of the 18th and 19th centuries) too much inbreeding can be a bad thing in terms of health (even if good for show quality genes), so how much should I worry? If I start with potentially very close genetic relationships in the original 8-10 birds, and introduce 2-4 more hens in the spring, will that introduce enough outside oomph to balance things, or should I aim for more? Right now we're not worrying much about breed purity, I just want to make sure that my birds are healthy, handsome, winter hardy and sweet.. Their parents seem healthy, and they've been bred for winter hardiness and good dispositions, but I want to make sure that things stay that way, and I am very new to this.


    I hope that makes some sense.. *grin* Thank you guys in advance! [​IMG]


    Pei

    (Of course if we get a high hatch % and 50% or better pullets this will make things more complicated, but we're assuming right now that we'll be doing good if we get a 75% successful hatch out of our 24 eggs, and hoping for 50% gender split, which will give us ~9 hens, and we'll keep the sweetest and handsomest two roosters.)
     
  2. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD Premium Member

    This is what I would do. Hatch your current flock and only keep the girls. Then find a free roo of some other kind and let him be the main breeder. If you only have one coop, only keep one roo per 8-12 girls assuming standard sized birds. It is always best to find a roo that is an "outsider" since you'll have less trouble integrating and it's easier than trying to find 12 girls for one "in roo". Don't forget to quarentene new birds though.

    You can mate father to daughter but not brother and sister. Genetic degregation starts to show up after a few generations, but may not be noticeable at first.
     
  3. PeiTheCelt

    PeiTheCelt Chillin' With My Peeps

    289
    1
    141
    Sep 3, 2007
    Central NY
    Thank you for the quick response! [​IMG] They'll be standards, so 2 roos to 8-10 females is too many? I'd seen 6-8 hens/roo, so was thinking 2 was a good number.. *sigh* Every time I think I know what I'm doing.. [​IMG]

    I wonder if I shouldn't talk to the hubby about picking up a couple of 1 day olds just before the girls hatch so they're all of a similar age.... Hmmm... I *had* been wanting a couple of Gold Laced Wyandotes.... [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG] (They haven't even hatched yet and I'm absolutely obsessed, what is WRONG with me lol)

    Thank you so much! [​IMG]



    Quote:
     
  4. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD Premium Member

    I would say with only 10 females, stick to one roo. Else you'll have some pretty pathetic bare backed gals in the bunch and most likely one beat up rooster.
     
  5. PeiTheCelt

    PeiTheCelt Chillin' With My Peeps

    289
    1
    141
    Sep 3, 2007
    Central NY
    That's one heck of an image.

    Thank you.. [​IMG]

    Quote:
     
  6. EmsoffLambs

    EmsoffLambs Out Of The Brooder

    62
    2
    41
    Jul 13, 2007
    Chilcoot, CA
    Here's what I learned in my genetics classes: To maintain the genetic viability of a population, only one outside individual must be added every seven generations.

    Now, this isn't very much, that's for sure. I imagine you would begin seeing some drop in production before that, but you certainly wouldn't end up with 2 headed chickens or anything.

    I'd also agree with silkiechicken. Bringing in a roo will add genetic diversity to every chick hatched. Adding a few new hens will only add that diversity to a few chicks.

    I haven't gotten into breeding chickens yet, but I have raised sheep for a number of years, so I know first hand that the males have a much bigger impact on the flock (whether sheep or chickens!) than any individual male. I keep my own females, but buy my rams. Chickes will work the same way.
     
  7. greyfields

    greyfields Overrun With Chickens

    4,889
    16
    261
    Mar 15, 2007
    Washington State
    Inbreeding is nowhere near as devestating to poultry as it is the larger mammals. Line breeding can be quite common without ever seeing recessive abnormalities. There is a long explanation I read once about this having to do with the answer to the question "What is a breed?"

    All chicken breeds were developed by intensive inbreeding of poultry with certain traits. Imagine a family tree turned upside down. That's how you get a poultry breed. Therefore the traits contained in the non-selected gense will rarely, if ever, appear. This is also why heterotosis works. The genetic 'gaps' are filled with the genese from the other breed and suddenly you have a very virile, healthy chicken hybrid.

    It's usually easy to pick up an extra roo for breeding; but you will probably do absolutely fine running a closed flock, too. Personally, I try to outsource roosters from different sources. But for a small backyard flock, don't think twice about it.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by