North American Marans Club Line Registry
with permission from
SPPA Bulletin, 2001, 6(4):11
With chickens, inbreeding can be both beneficial and detrimental. Genetic homozygosity gives us breed uniformity in purebred stock, and the reasonable predictability of offspring to look and perform like their parents. However, in small, isolated populations of chickens, the gene pool is often limited to begin with. Rather than further improving predictability, inbreeding can then magnify genetic problems within the breed, often called inbreeding depression. This usually manifests itself as poor fertility, poor hatching, and decreased vigor and livability. Although sometimes plagued with these problems in the past, through good husbandry and the crossings of different bloodlines Marans are now alert and vigorous, with strong hatching chicks and good fertility. With the growing popular interest in the breed, the continued success of the Marans and its conservators depends upon monitoring the breed's gene pool. As part of the North American Marans Club's commitment to improving the breed, the Line Registry project was born (or should I say hatched?).
The main aim of this project is to gather data on the extant population of the Marans in North America and enter them into a computer program to formulate a centralized database accessible to breeders. The first phase of this project is entitled the "Line Registry" and will document the many different bloodlines that contribute to the gene pool of the North American Marans.
In the Marans, a line or strain consists of genetically related birds, and is often named after the person who imported that bloodline. Each importation of Marans brings in a unique complement of gene alleles, such as variation in conformation, growth rate, disease resistance, fertility, and eggshell color. Since allele frequencies are passed through family lines, documenting the various characteristics and geographic spread of the extant bloodlines in the North American Marans can be of great use in identifying breeding stock. If a breeder knows as much as possible about the new line's genetic makeup, he or she may make the most informed decision about which birds are most likely to complement or improve their flock.
I have developed a Line Registry form to send out to Marans owners to collect information about their flocks' bloodlines. These forms will record which bloodlines a person owns, some of their major characteristics, and the owners' observations about their birds. Eventually, I hope to develop online data collection for the Line Registry. If you would like to participate in this effort to document our rare breed, please contact me: North American Marans Club, c/o Katherine Anderson, 7 Walnut Lane, Santa Barbara, CA 93111, or through e-mail: email@example.com. A packet will be sent to you containing information about the project, along with a self-addressed stamped envelope. There is no cost to participants other than a few minutes of your time. You don't need to be a Marans Club member, or an active breeder or seller - the only requirements are that you have Marans and can provide information on the source of your birds.
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