The more I read about breeding the more I realize I don’t know. And with each tidbit of knowledge I give more and more credit to those who are raising high quality heritage breeds and participating in breeding programs.
In my last post, I talked about clan breeding which is a breeding system that allows you to mate and raise offspring from three pairs. It’s a rotation to ensure they you are never breeding too closely, however keeping your line true.
When you start breeding birds of high quality you want to keep those birds as genetically identical as possible. This ensures continuous examples of the breed and makes the offspring predictable.
It is always ideal to start off with three, unrelated, high quality pairs of the same breed when starting a clan breeding system. But sometimes that is not possible, especially if you are breeding extremely rare breeds. Sometimes it’s impossible to find three pairs of genetically superior birds to create a line. It’s often hard enough to find the single pair to begin with.
In this article I will share how to create 3 breeding pairs starting with a single pair. This can be done in 3 seasons.
The type of breeding that is taking place in this system is called line breeding.
What is Line Breeding?
There are differences of opinion in what constitutes line breeding. Some say it is simply breeding animals that are closely related. But a more narrow definition suggests that line breeding is breeding mother to son or father to daughter.
This can usually be done for quite a few generations without genetic deformities surfacing. But after a while fertility rates can drop. I will discuss different breeding methods in my next post.
The graphic below shows the breeding pattern starting from 1 pair and moving to three pairs over 3-4 seasons.
(I did not invent this formula, but it is a basic biology lesson on breeding. So full credit to whomever came up with this.)
Season 1: Mate the pair.
Season 2: Mate the same hen to the best male offspring.
Season 3: Mate the same male to female offspring.
Season 4: The best males and females from last season create your clan pairs.
You can see that this system moves back and forth mating mother-to-son and father-to-daughter. The only way it differs if that the single best male should be chosen.
Once you have established pairs you can visit my post Clan Mating System to see how the breeding continues.
You will be able to breed this clan system for several future generations however, with a flock this closely related you may find that your breeding program can benefit from some genetic diversity. In this case it is best to introduce that diversity from hens, and only at 25%.
What does this mean?
When you keep a cock, all of that rooster’s genetic information goes into every generation. So no matter then hen, each generation shares half of his genetic code. If you introduce new genetic information, any “flaws” with that rooster will appear in every following generation.
If you introduce new information with a hen, only her offspring will carry that information and each mating it will get more muddled into the flock’s original code.
Bringing a hen in at 25% means that that hen will only offer 25% of the new genetic information shown by the illustration below.
This type of introduction is a allows new genetic information into the flock but with caution. The second generation of offspring will carry 50% of the mother’s genetics. The third generation can become part of the breeding program.