Theoretical, Science Fiction Question

3KillerBs

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If you were taking chickens to the stars as farm animals on new colony planets how many of a given breed would serve to make a sound foundation stock that can be bred indefinitely without serious genetic issues cropping up.

Also, if a disaster happened, what would be the absolute minimum necessary to save the breed?

I'm writing a SF story for National Novel Writing Month www.nanowrimo.org and its going to be a sort of Swiss Family Robinson in space thing with lots of farm life on a new planet stuff. I'm trying to figure out how many animals to put on the ship.
 

warren

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I don't know the answer, but Noah took 7 of each clean bird. I think it means 7 males and 7 females, but am not sure on that.
I would imagine that if you took pedegree birds, which are inbred to give them their characteristics, you would need more, but if you could take the original wild birds they would have a wider range of genes which you could then inbreed to reproduce the pedegree birds later on.
I am no expert so I might be talking rubbish, but I thought I would set the ball rolling.
 

Year of the Rooster

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Inbreeding with chickens isn't as bad than if you were breeding cows or pigs or other mammals. Many breeders use Father to daughter/Mother to son etc. etc. (line breeding) successfully without problems. Brother to Sister though, hightens characteristics (good and bad) and is not usually used.
 

Chickndaddy

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It might interest you to read some of Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern series. In the book where the colonists go to Pern it talks about bringing various animals (cows, horses, chickens, geese, ducks, dolphins, etc...) from earth in deep sleep. The Chronicles of Pern and Dragonsdawn will be the two to read.
 

amazondoc

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If I was going on a colony starship, I wouldn't take all that many actual animals -- but I'd take as many frozen embryos as I could stuff in all the nooks and crannies of the holds. In the case of birds, maybe I'd take frozen sperm and ova and do the fertilization after they were thawed instead of before.....
 

PurpleChicken

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This is really fascinating. I wasn't sure what to expect when I clicked this thread but Amazon got me thinking.

Could hatching eggs be frozen somehow and incubated later? The biggest problem on a ship would be feed and water. Is this what You mean by frozen embryos or is there another way to do it?
 

amazondoc

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With mammals, it is fairly easy to deep freeze embryos -- then thaw and implant them later. That's how a lot of ladies get pregnant these days.
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With birds, I think you'd have to freeze the sperm and ova -- or whole ovaries -- and then fertilize and implant them later. I don't *think* you could actually freeze the embryo in a bird, since in birds the embryo doesn't really form until after it's already in the egg.

If you take whole animals on the ship you've got to worry about space, oxygen, food, water, waste disposal, illness, and even simply the labor of taking care of them. And after you land you've still got all those worries, aside from the oxygen issue. But if you just keep a minimum number of animals alive, you can implant those frozen embryos whenever you want.
 

3KillerBs

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I'm very familiar with that one -- Dragonsdawn is a great favorite of mine.
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I decided against having the level of biotechnology that let them whip up genetically engineered animals at a moment's notice. I'm doing it the old-fashioned way and having them bring breeders and rely on careful selection.

Nothing wrong with McCaffrey's way -- but I don't want to write her story over again.
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MANNA-PRO

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