Inbreeding - To Do or Not To Do?
Bird Breeders are often confused and left undecided when it comes to this subject. What are its benefits and consequences of inbreeding if a breeder would engage on it? How would a breeder apply it to his breeding stock? How close is too close? These are some of the questions in the minds of breeders whom are undecided to engage in inbreeding. Before we answer those questions, we should understand first what is inbreeding.
Inbreeding is a mating system whereby individuals of related ancestry /blood are inter-mated. The intension of inbreeding is to bring out the outstanding characteristics of the family. Many Champion bird breeders around the world have used this kind of mating system in improving their stocks. What happens in inbreeding is that when two related birds are bred, their progenies will be more homozygous (more purer). The consequences or the inbreeding depressions are: lowered immune response, reduced resistance against climatic influences, shorter body length, reduced fertility, survival rate, stunted growth, shorter life expectancy and physiological vigor. The more closely related birds are inter-mated, the more radical these consequences are.
Starting a family or a pure line, takes years to accomplish. Before engaging into it, a breeder must have a goal, “To breed the ultimate bird”. A breeder should layout his plan over the ideal bird. He must know the standard of the bird’s shape, size, deportment, color, markings, among others. He must have a judging eye, not only assessing a good bird but must also recognize the breeding potential of the bird by merely looking at it. Another important factor is that he must have the correct basic stocks to start with. The breeder must also remember that the idea of inbreeding is not to reproduce the original bird, but to improve upon it.
Once you have paired up a cock to several good quality hens, you must record, ring and keep track of progenies until they are mature before culling them. Selective breeding must be strictly performed. The selected half-brothers and half-sisters should be paired and mated together. The progenies of these pairings will be again subjected to a strict culling and selection basis, and then paired up to the original cock or hens. This will improve the established characteristics of the family even further. After establishing a uniform appearance of the family, it is fairly easy to maintain the general quality by breeding related birds of the family together, e.g. uncle to niece, 1st cousin to 2nd cousin and so on.
After several generations, there will come a time that you must outcross it to another family, because this family is now so closely related that they are showing signs of infertility, lack of physiological vigor, lacking size. It is better to establish to families (pure bred lines) from the start. So when this point comes in you can pair them up without having the trouble of researching the 2nd family’s ancestry.
Do not pair up full brothers and sisters! This mating is too close. It can cause all kinds of problems within the genetical make-up. This is where physical deformities are often seen as well the ones mentioned before. The only time when one should consider pairing is when both parents of these birds have died and or few progenies have been produced from them.
From time to time, the breeder will encounter a bird whereby; no matter to whom you pair it up will always transfer most of its characteristics to its progenies. This is called pre-potency. Remember that this is an important quality a stock bird should have. Unfortunately this kind of bird is very rare.
Inbreeding is a very important tool in establishing a world-class exhibition bird. If used correctly, our aim to promote our birds to world-class level is not that far to achieve. Bird Fanciers, what would it be, to inbreed or not to inbreed? That is the question!