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#1 2013-01-16 05:28:36

Island Girl
Member
From: Qualicum Beach, Vancouver Isla
Registered: 2011-07-06
Posts: 1403

Are we limiting the gene pool?

Anyone that 'knows' me, knows that I try hard to understand genetics but its not an easy task for me. I will not let it beat me though and even though I fear looking like an idiot I will put forth this question. It is my understanding after conversing with a few people that do know genetics and who breed birds, that it is not wise to limit your gene pool by pair breeding (or small group breeding) too early on in a breeds history. That this is especially true if you do not have a large gene pool to start with. That you may inadvertently breed out good qualities of the bird that you are not able to 'see'. Any thoughts on this? :chairhide:

XOX Monika

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2013-01-16 05:28:36

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#2 2013-01-16 12:45:37

Susan
Administrator
From: Saskatoon, Sask, Canada
Registered: 2011-06-28
Posts: 2540

Re: Are we limiting the gene pool?

I think that is an excellent point Monika. Last year I only used quint breeding (1 Roo four hens) and group breeding as well. I don't think I am at the point with my birds that I want to chance losing anything I might not "see" as you put it. This year I also have about 12 girls in with one Roo. These are my top ten percent. I am thinking group breeding is the *best* way to go and I will also probably rotate my three favourite Roos through the pen. I am thinking of how Roy Crawford does it. He keeps 30 girls and 15 boys. He rotates the boys in groups of five for one month each. I guess my point is that there is more than one way to approach breeding our EOs and not one way is the only way. :)

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#3 2013-01-16 12:51:53

poplar girl
Administrator
From: Athabasca, AB, Canada
Registered: 2011-06-30
Posts: 3159

Re: Are we limiting the gene pool?

Yep, I always have thoughts. :P

It depends on how you use pair breeding or small group breeding I think Monika. On this one I hope IPF of someone else joins in as my population genetics, ability to calculate inbreeding coefficients etc. is pretty shaky.

I am using pair breeding and small group breeding to manage the amount of inbreeding and to make sure I understand what traits my birds are carrying.

Here is an example for you. The recessive white trait. So far I have not had any EOs hatch like this but I know many have.

So let's take 3 examples:
Person A has 2 roosters and 10 hens. They let the whole flock mate naturally and hatch eggs. Of the eggs that hatch (let's say you hatch 100 chicks) 2 chicks are recessive white. What do you know about this trait that has popped up in your flock? You know at least one rooster and at least one hen carry this hidden trait but that is all you know. you know that any of your other 98 chicks could carry it but not which I ones.

Second case, Person B has the same 2 roosters and 10 hens but separates them into two groups, each group with 1 rooster and 5 hens. Again 2 recessive white chicks hatch, both from one group. What do you know? Well you know which rooster carries the recessive white trait and that one or more of the 5 hens in with him also carry it. You know that any of 48 other chicks from that breeding pen could also carry it. But you also know you other rooster and 5 hens and the 50 chicks they hatched probably don't carry it.

Thirds case, pair mating. With each of the 2 roosters you mate 5 hens but you keep each hen in a separate pen and mark the eggs. When you hatch you get 2 recessive white chicks and they are both from eggs from the same pair mating. So what do you know? You know which rooster carries it (as you did with case #2) and you know which hen carries it! You also know that the other 8 chicks (just for example) that hatched from that pair could carry it. You know it is not like any of you other hens carry it or your 1 rooster. But you know that your other chicks from the rooster that threw the two white babies could be carriers now too.

So it's a year later now and you want to include your best looking chicks from each of the above cases in this year's breeding program. With each case what do you know about the chicks? Do you know their parents? Do you know what traits they are likely to carry? You know what you can visually see but what traits is each hiding? And what more do you know about the parents of the chicks than you knew last year? How do you know how closely related the birds you put together are?

Some of it depends on how you use pair mating and small group matings I think. If you are only choosing your best couple of pairs and do not plan to mate any of your other birds then you are definately going to narrow the gene pool. A common old-school breeding strategy is to do that, mate two unrelated birds that are excellent quality and them mate mother to son and father to daughter and create a maternal and paternal line. By using that strategy you will definately reduce the diversity of you birds by a huge amount.

I am not doing the above right now. I am pair and small group mating so I know as much as possible about my parent and new birds but do not plan to only mate the chicks from a pair back to the parents, I will pair them with less related birds that I think have strengths where the other has a weakness. I do plan, over time, to select against undesirable traits and select for the traits I want but it will be as much as possible with an understanding of the genetics the birds have.

Another example is the wry tail. If what you saw in my gorrias is wry tail or the start of it then I know which parents carry it as all three hens from that pair mating last year seem like they could have it.  I looked online, it seems it is recessive so can hide in the birds but might not be just one gene which of course makes it complicated. So now what? Well I will take a closer look at the birds and see if I think it is wry tails first. Then I will decide if I should still mate them or not. If they do have wry tail and i still mate them and the chicks have it I know my new rooster also carries it. If the chicks don't have wry tail I know the rooster likely doesn't carry it but I will know all the chicks do. Ideally I would not use a bird with wry tail for breeding at all right? But then I eliminate 2 hens from my very small gorria breeding flock and all the good genes they carry as well. This way I can still breed them but I know I need to watch for this trait and over time I should be able to select against it and eliminate it.

Do those examples make sense?


Raising red cuckoo (marraduna) Euskal Oiloak and self blue (lavender) & black Belgian Bearded d'Uccles.

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#4 2013-01-16 12:59:19

poplar girl
Administrator
From: Athabasca, AB, Canada
Registered: 2011-06-30
Posts: 3159

Re: Are we limiting the gene pool?

:goodthread: by the way!!!


Raising red cuckoo (marraduna) Euskal Oiloak and self blue (lavender) & black Belgian Bearded d'Uccles.

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#5 2013-01-16 13:08:07

Maggiesdad
Moderator
From: Louisa County, Virginia
Registered: 2011-10-05
Posts: 1980

Re: Are we limiting the gene pool?

@ IG's OP - I would hazard a guess that this is only partly true. The problem for us and EO's is that we don't know the level of inbreeding already present in the stock that is available to us. That is why it is imperative to keep good records of parentage, flaws and attributes, and why it is important to ask folks to refrain from breeding hatchmates together and provide potential new breeders with already vetted and approved breeding pairs, instead of a dozen hatching eggs. A knowledgeable breeder will understand and appreciate the costs of raising birds to this level of readiness and not balk at the price.  The flip side of that, is that you have to work with what you have...

I believe this little book will address a lot of your questions... take a looksee and we will talk some more.

http://archive.org/details/cu31924003158312

Karen put me onto it in post #7482 of HLF on BYC...
http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/40034 … st_9985137

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#6 2013-01-16 13:18:37

Maggiesdad
Moderator
From: Louisa County, Virginia
Registered: 2011-10-05
Posts: 1980

Re: Are we limiting the gene pool?

That post in whole is excellent, PG!

poplar girl wrote:

Some of it depends on how you use pair mating and small group matings I think. If you are only choosing your best couple of pairs and do not plan to mate any of your other birds then you are definately going to narrow the gene pool. A common old-school breeding strategy is to do that, mate two unrelated birds that are excellent quality and them mate mother to son and father to daughter and create a maternal and paternal line. By using that strategy you will definately reduce the diversity of you birds by a huge amount.

This very thing is what Card's book addresses, and provides charts for breeding to. The key point is starting with excellent quality. If you start with mediocrity, it could take 10 - 20 years of masterful breeding to get them up to standard. If you start with excellent, your focus is maintaining.

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#7 2013-01-16 13:24:28

Maggiesdad
Moderator
From: Louisa County, Virginia
Registered: 2011-10-05
Posts: 1980

Re: Are we limiting the gene pool?

Next question is - do you have your copy of the APA SOP? The first 40 pages address critical information about the breeding of all fowl. I find the more I learn about chickens the less I know... :sad:

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#8 2013-01-16 13:32:20

Maggiesdad
Moderator
From: Louisa County, Virginia
Registered: 2011-10-05
Posts: 1980

Re: Are we limiting the gene pool?

If you are a speed reader and need more - I'm currently in this one... ;)

http://archive.org/details/matingbreedingof00lamo

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#9 2013-01-16 13:54:09

poplar girl
Administrator
From: Athabasca, AB, Canada
Registered: 2011-06-30
Posts: 3159

Re: Are we limiting the gene pool?

I should add one thing. The purpose of breeding and selection of animals like chickens where you want all the birds to match a certain SOP is to narrow the gene pool. The key is to end up with as many desirable traits as you can while eliminating the less desirable traits. So you are tying to keep good traits, both the ones you can see like feather color, and type as well as the ones that are less visual like vigour and disease resistance. But you are intentionally narrowing the gene pool to eliminate traits that you don't want like side sprigs, feather stubs, wry tail, and split wing, as well as weak birds and those with poor egg laying abilities. A good breeder will be able to do that.

People like me who are trying hard but really don't have a clue what they're doing run the risk of not being able to achieve this goal. That is where seeking advice from others and educating myself comes in! And also knowing that if I do get there it won't be without some mistakes along the way and that it will likely take me a lot longer than someone with more knowledge and experience.


Raising red cuckoo (marraduna) Euskal Oiloak and self blue (lavender) & black Belgian Bearded d'Uccles.

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#10 2013-01-16 14:30:43

debbiej
Member
Registered: 2011-08-26
Posts: 86

Re: Are we limiting the gene pool?

I think limiting your gene pool in a breed with limited genes is looking for disaster. Aren't all the EO's in Canada from the same genetic stock.Taking your best birds and rotating your best roosters to try and breed healthy birds with out life threatening genetic defects is the way to go.  Are your problems with wry tails, side sprigs,  etc. a simple recessive, or can it skip generations?
Breeding to the standard of perfection is a noble goal, the perfect bird. Problem is you don't have enough genetic diversity to do so at the moment. 
I feel that healthy birds are more important than pretty feathers. Chickens with crossed beaks can't eat. Chickens with crooked toes and legs can't walk. These are two common genectic defects from intense inbreeding.  Don't throw the baby away with the bath water

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#11 2013-01-16 14:52:20

poplar girl
Administrator
From: Athabasca, AB, Canada
Registered: 2011-06-30
Posts: 3159

Re: Are we limiting the gene pool?

debbiej wrote:

I think limiting your gene pool in a breed with limited genes is looking for disaster. Aren't all the EO's in Canada from the same genetic stock.Taking your best birds and rotating your best roosters to try and breed healthy birds with out life threatening genetic defects is the way to go.  Are your problems with wry tails, side sprigs,  etc. a simple recessive, or can it skip generations?
Breeding to the standard of perfection is a noble goal, the perfect bird. Problem is you don't have enough genetic diversity to do so at the moment. 
I feel that healthy birds are more important than pretty feathers. Chickens with crossed beaks can't eat. Chickens with crooked toes and legs can't walk. These are two common genectic defects from intense inbreeding.  Don't throw the baby away with the bath water

DebbieJ unless someone brings in EOs from Europe or crosses their EOs to another breed no matter what we do the gene pool of the North American EOs is not going to get any larger. We are stuck with what we have, the only thing we can do is manage that gene pool. There are several ways to do that and each has advantages and disadvantages and different people can use different methods and still reach the same end goal.

I disagree with you in regards to not having enough genetic diversity in the EOs to select to the SOP. Every trait an EO should have I believe have in at least one of my birds. The problem is I don't have all those traits packaged together in one bird! So that's where selective breeding and then selection come in.

As well, thankfully so far there have been very few serious problems show up in the EOs as a result of inbreeding. The undesirable traits that are showing up (recessive white, feather stubs, poor type, side sprigs, wry tail, crooked toes etc) do need to be selected against but as you stated no need to throw the baby out with the bath water, sometimes it might make sense to breed a bird with one of the above bad traits if they have other really good qualities. But then in future generation you will need to select against it. Inbreeding of itself it not the problem, it just increases the frequency of both the good and the bad traits and makes us able to see them so that selection become much more important.

And by nature recessive traits can "hide" in a bird and will only show up when you mate two birds that have the same recessive trait, that is why you see lots of problems become visible when you cross related birds. And you are correct that some traits are not just the result of one gene, some are due to multiple genes and that does make things more complicated but those traits are still inherited the same way, it is just harder to understand their inheritance. No trait (or almost no traits) just appears out of nowhere it is just not always possible to see the trait in the parents, that is why it is important to pay attention to the traits of a pair's offspring at it can tell you a lot about the parents that you would otherwise have no way of knowing.


Raising red cuckoo (marraduna) Euskal Oiloak and self blue (lavender) & black Belgian Bearded d'Uccles.

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#12 2013-01-16 18:20:55

Island Girl
Member
From: Qualicum Beach, Vancouver Isla
Registered: 2011-07-06
Posts: 1403

Re: Are we limiting the gene pool?

I am reading and  I am learning and I believe I am getting closer to knowing what I want to do this year for my breeding plans :jumping:  I really like the links to the books Md, the forward to the second book was very encouraging! I am setting time aside tonight for reading. I do have another question :P so while you do your breeding whether it is a pair, small group or flock, what are you doing with the excess offspring? Yikes, maybe that is another thread...yup I think so. I want to be able to go back and reread responses and not have to sort through posts.

XOX Monika

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#13 2013-01-16 21:55:26

Little Boy Blue
Member
From: Marble Falls, Texas
Registered: 2012-07-11
Posts: 83
Website

Re: Are we limiting the gene pool?

Maggiesdad wrote:

If you are a speed reader and need more - I'm currently in this one... ;)

http://archive.org/details/matingbreedingof00lamo

MD...I looks like we have the same reading list.  I started with The Laws Governing the Breeding of Standard Poultry, them moved on to the Heritage Livestock Association papers, then the Kansas Circulars, and am currently reading the the same refference as you are. I started the Call of the Hen too.  I guess that one is next on my list. :-)

Last edited by Little Boy Blue (2013-01-16 22:01:13)


Cottage Hill Black Copper Marans & Cream Legbars

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#14 2013-01-17 05:57:47

Island Girl
Member
From: Qualicum Beach, Vancouver Isla
Registered: 2011-07-06
Posts: 1403

Re: Are we limiting the gene pool?

Went to the local bookstore to see if they had or couod order Call of the Hen, sure for 50 dollars :(  best check out Amazon!

XOX Monika

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#15 2013-01-17 12:16:48

poplar girl
Administrator
From: Athabasca, AB, Canada
Registered: 2011-06-30
Posts: 3159

Re: Are we limiting the gene pool?

You don't like reading online Monika? Both of these books are available for free on the links MD posted. Neither is very long, i downloaded the pdf and did a quick read through one a couple weeks ago and the other last night.


Raising red cuckoo (marraduna) Euskal Oiloak and self blue (lavender) & black Belgian Bearded d'Uccles.

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#16 2013-01-17 13:12:03

Maggiesdad
Moderator
From: Louisa County, Virginia
Registered: 2011-10-05
Posts: 1980

Re: Are we limiting the gene pool?

Mike got his hard copy to be able to write in it. There is something nice about having it in hand and being able to flip back and forth, vs :surfing:  ..

To me, all of these books say the same things that the ALBC improvement pdfs and the SOP say, they just say it in different ways...

I'm the kind of guy that can read right over something and not see it,  - my sausage kept turning out crappy and my friend said are you following the recipe? I said yes and he said well you're doing it wrong... He came over, we made sausage and sure enough I had glossed over two crucial steps, thinking that wasn't really that important. :duh: My results are much better now.

So by seeing it over and over, worded differently, maybe the light will come on for me.  :please:

That and the knowledge that none of this is cut and dry, there is a lot of seat of your pants flying in breeding chickens...

My new favorite thread is Chicken State University on BYC ... I think there will be a lot of info to be gleaned from all the years of experience in there.
http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/73298 … e-fowl-sop

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#17 2013-01-17 13:52:48

gubi
Member
From: Walton
Registered: 2011-06-30
Posts: 1344
Website

Re: Are we limiting the gene pool?

Hey can you mods start a stickied locked thread with all the links for easy reference?  That would be great.
Thanks


Herd of Brown Swiss, a few sheep, red cuckoo basque, Silverspangled Appenzeller Spitzhauben, ameraucanas(EE), Welsummer, broodie silkies and a few more heritage hens

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#18 2013-01-17 15:45:03

NaturesPace
Member
From: Augusta county VA, USA
Registered: 2011-12-20
Posts: 915
Website

Re: Are we limiting the gene pool?

i was able to print the PDFs so i could have a hard copy to flip through. I also didn't get the Call of the Hen off of Amazon because the PDF printed so well.


More pictures and videos of chicks. www.outoforderacres.com

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#19 2013-01-17 18:40:15

Island Girl
Member
From: Qualicum Beach, Vancouver Isla
Registered: 2011-07-06
Posts: 1403

Re: Are we limiting the gene pool?

Talk about missing the obvious, :duh: I don't mind reading online at all, just didn't see it. I will go back and check right now. I love the idea of having the stickied locked referance thread, :thumbsup:  gubi!

XOX Monika

Last edited by Island Girl (2013-01-17 18:41:17)

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#20 2013-01-20 13:08:18

poplar girl
Administrator
From: Athabasca, AB, Canada
Registered: 2011-06-30
Posts: 3159

Re: Are we limiting the gene pool?

So I did sticky the reference list as well as close the topic, did I miss any references?
http://forums.euskaloiloas.com/viewtopic.php?id=1394

And how is that reading going Monika and everyone else? Any thoughts or comments so far?
I would really like to hear what everyone thinks on the topic of narrowing the gene pool once you put some thought into it as I think for anyone breeding poultry this is an important concept.


Raising red cuckoo (marraduna) Euskal Oiloak and self blue (lavender) & black Belgian Bearded d'Uccles.

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