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I have a big farm (without animals so far) and want to get chickens. They can run freely in the farmyard and the garden, having approx. 1500 m² with grassland, sand, a dunghill and copse. I'd like to take an egg or two sometimes, but they should merely be left to their own, including the brood. As I don't want to get more than one rooster I'm worried about incest and harms I could inadvertently cause the animals by it.

Can I breed multiple generations with one rooster only? Can inbreeding have negative effects, cause diseases or disabilities? If so, is there any rule of thumb after how many generations I should get some foreign chickens – or maybe just a rooster? – to introduce new genetic material?

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When you get the chickens get them from different breeders so they are not related and maybe get different types of chickens (nicer to look at some variation in colors and behaviour) and it is easier to identify them.

You will, at some point, have to give away or in other ways limit the number you have so it is best to plan for this.

Chickens do already have very similar genes, so to some degree they are inbreed when you get them.

A number of problems can arise if heavy inbreeding happens, like blindness, deformity and albinism. Some chickens lay smaller eggs or eggs without the outer shell, other chickens can have changed behaviour or are more likely to die from disease, but it can take many generations before you will experience this type of problems.

In conclusion, you can successfully breed several generations with one rooster, but this depends on the quality you start with when you get them.

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