Does It Matter If Chickens Inbreed?

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Last summer we bought a bunch of hens and baby chicks from a local couple. Of course we didn’t know it then, but there were a few roosters along with the young hens we’d purchased. Now that they are big enough to know that they are roosters and are jumping on the hens, I’ve been wondering if it matters that they are inbreeding with their sisters or possibly their mama. I don’t exactly want a bunch of deformed chicks running around!

After doing a lot of reading though, it seems it’s not really a big deal if your chickens inbreed. Eventually, you might want to introduce new blood into the line, but it’s not gonna hurt if siblings mate. A couple of signs that will tell you it’s time to get some non-related chickens in the mix is when hatch rates begin to significantly decline, or birth deformities begin to occur. Be sure to monitor egg production and fertility as well, as these can be effected after several generations of inbreeding. Be sure to get rid of any chicks with undesirable traits so as not to breed these bad genes into another generation.

But all in all, it’s unlikely to be a major problem. Some breeders actually prefer to continuously inbreed in order to get the most desirable traits possible. So, if your little rooster jumps on Mama hen… don’t worry about it, that’s just the way nature is designed!


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Kendra
About Kendra 1106 Articles
A city girl learning to homestead on an acre of land in the country. Wife and homeschooling mother of four. Enjoying life, and everything that has to do with self sufficient living.

8 Comments

  1. Animals in the wild dont typically HAVE TO inbreed, but they can if there arent any other options. Inbred offspring is better for the species than no offspring at all, but its hardly ideal.

  2. If there are any deformities in the chicks they don’t survive the harrassment of their fellow chicks. Chickens it seems believe in euthanasia, survival of the fittest, etc. Sometimes this cam be avoided by using a red light in the brooder, but if Mama is raising the clutch, no telling what might happen to that little chick who is born with a twisted leg or some other deformity.

    I agree as do others that it is good to bring in a rooster from another source or blood line. What happens with us, we raise one particular breed, Rhode Island Red, but it is hard to find a true breed and through time the traits you don’t want to see begin to come out in the chicks. You may have a lighter colored one etc. So we have a dark RIR roo from a different farm to help keep our flock dark and eggs a little speckled. It all depends on what you’re looking for in egg production and breed hardiness.

    Not something to be overly concerned with unless you are breeding commercially.

    • Hey Mrs. D I have 1 peahen, it was supposed to be a male but wasn’t so I am getting a peacock but am not sure if they are siblings so I ask does inbreeding affect peafowl

  3. Kendra,

    Thanks so much for this post, my husband and I were just talking about this as we are attempting our first hatching out of chicks right now. I’m happy to read you did the research for us! He figured it was ok, we have heard what Rosann said with our goats and it seems iky at first but I think we’ll get used to it after a couple of years.

    Jane in Alaska

  4. With animals it is called line breeding not inbreeding. To introduce a new genetic line it is called out crossing.
    Lots of chicken fanciers have what they call closed flocks, meaning they will not out cross to outside bloodlines. Many breeders do this to work on egg color, confirmation, and other traits they want to control.

  5. Yup and it’s that way across the board. Goats, chickens, rabbits, dogs… it’s only humans that have a real problem with inbreeding. In the wild animals inbreed all the time.

  6. Well said. I have raised chickens all my life and never experienced any birth deformity in my flocks. It seems that chickens are not discerning about their mating habits and we have never bothered them about it.
    In good flock management, we do tend to introduce more breeds or new “sets” to the flock every few years to keep diversity and variety. My grandparents culled and replaced yearly to keep the flock fresh.
    Thanks for the post; it was well written.

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