Inbreeding Chickens?


12 Years
Aug 30, 2009
So all of my chickens are basically brothers and sisters. I have a few that are different breeds I've gotten from breeders. The ones that are brothers and sisters have had chicks of their own then those chicks have had babies with eachother....none of the chicks have come out messed up or anything. But will this affect them?


Covered in Pet Hair & Feathers
10 Years
Sep 22, 2009
My slice of heaven in Somerset, CA
Nope. Inbreeding is not that much of a problem with chickens. Do a search on "inbreeding" to find the other topic strings discussing why.


10 Years
Mar 30, 2009
the South
Inbreeding will result in problems within 3 to 4 generations which will cause your line to go extinct unless certain measures are taken:
1. Only breed from healthy robust birds.
2. Cull ruthlessly in every generation.
3. Hatch a lot of chicks in each generation.
etc. etc. etc.

Also, inbreeding is generally not utilized unless you are working with quality stock. It is always better to start with say 6 hens and 2 cocks than a simple trio.

Some of us do linebreed/inbreed utilizing various methods, but again, we are working with quality stock.
'Quality' is of course a subjective word. For example, some people breed for color because Poultry Shows are about who looks best on a given day; others breed for production traits or even for gameness. So, if you like your stock then for you they are quality.

Just remember the basic rules listed above. I wish you well in your breeding program. saladin
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10 Years
Oct 16, 2009
Though you may not see any obvious problems, they would emerge if you continue to in-breed.

It is a good idea to introduce totally new blood lines wherever possible to minimise diseases due to recessive genes,


Oven Ready

9 Years
May 9, 2010
It's important to remember that, yes, inbreeding can show up undesirable recessive genes but one of your birds needs to have that undesirable gene to start with.

Inbreeding is a good way to get rid of the undesirable genes, through culling. This is how show birds (and dogs, cats, horses, whatever) are bred.

Adding 'new blood' may introduce undesirable genes that none of your birds currently carry and then inbreeding can increase it's presentation in your birds.

Depending on what you want to do with your birds (if you are just collecting eggs), inbreeding is unlikley to cause major problems. You should monitor their progress, if you find egg production is dropping them perhaps you are losing vigour in your flock. If you are breeding for meat then you need to monitor both egg production and fertility. Susceptibility to disease is another. For some, poor egg production and low fertility is OK as long as the few chicks that make it have something desirable, like long tails, good posture, specific coloring.

As you've noticed, chickens are not morally offended by inbreeding and neither are most animals, in fact for some animals it's absolutely the norm.

In either case, in or out breeding, you should not allow poor quality birds (whatever *you* rate quality on) to continue their line.

As mentioned, there are many threads on this subject, they are well worth reading.


12 Years
Jan 14, 2008
I line breed which involves breeding only related birds but in a controlled manner. I often see admonitions on this site warning against the dire consequences of breeding related birds.
People who issue these warnings will tell you that it's absolutely necessary to add "new blood" on a regular basis. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact the surest way to screw up a breeding program is to randomly add "new blood'.
I have a closed flock [meaning no "new blood" added] of Single Combed Rhode Island Red Bantams that I have bred for 25 years. My feertility is nearly 100% & my hatchability over 90%. I do not have problems with illness or deformity. This is a show line that is probably among the best in the country. Last year I was only able to show 5 times. I showed against the best of the North East Reds & had Best of Breed all 5 times. Three of those times I also had Reserve of Breed. I sure don't see how I could benefit from adding "new blood" to this line.
There's nothing radical about my breeding program it's how most serious & successful breeders approach the breeding process. The people here who warn about the perils of inbreeding are people with little or no breeding experience. If you are happy with the quality of the birds you have there's no reason to cross in another strain. Look up Line Breeding & apply it's principles, you'll do fine.


11 Years
Sep 19, 2008
Agree 100% with NYREDS. Adding new blood willy nilly is counterproductive to improving a line. Hence, line-breeding. The point of which is to instill quality traits in a line and consistently reproduce those traits. While establishing a line it may be necessary to hatch large numbers, but once a line starts breeding true, the large numbers aren't as critical. When I started back into poultry after a 20 year hiatus with the Marine Corps, I wanted to establish my own line of Buff Cochin Bantams. Certainly you can choose to get birds from a single breeder and just keep their line going. However, that's not what I wanted to do. I crossed three individual lines together the first year in different male/female matchups, and have since carefully bred from only my own birds to establish a line of Buff Cochin Bantams. The first year, I expected a bunch of junk, and I wasn't disappointed. although I did get a handful that were useful for breeding too. It seems that crossing unrelated lines brings out the worst faults in the resulting offspring and you get to deal with those faults for a couple generations. For instance, side sprigs. The first year I would estimate around 20% of the chicks had side sprigs. Five years later, I have had a single chick this year out of 50 or so Buff Bantams with a side sprig and it was a pullet. Normally I'd see them on cockerels. Color flaws were also more prevalent. Bottom line is that line breeding can be done successfully and is the best way to establish a quality line in any breed. Breeding brother to sister is fine, especially, if both have attributes that you are trying to set in your line. Keeping good records is a must, even if it's by toe punching by pen number that is consistent year to year.


9 Years
Dec 1, 2010
Shelton, Wa.
i have to agree with new blood can bring trouble crowd..... i'm in no way a breeder, i don't show my birds, etc... i'm on my 4th generation of inbreeding, mixed breed=muts..... for 4 yrs, i had nice roosters, never a mean one..... thought i'd add some new blood last year... got some rhode island red hens, then a few months later had my flock killed by coons, so i hatched what eggs i had on hand..... well every single rooster that had red in him, 5 roosters, were very mean, attacked kids, wife etc..... it was only the roos with red in them, so it definately came from those rhode island reds..... these were bought from local feed store.. i'm not sayin all RIR are mean, but the ones i got were passing on bad genes... kinda bummed me out because they were beautiful birds.... so now i've gotta cull out the ones with bad habits..... all because i bought into the "new blood" montra........ never again....

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