Haven't written in awhile. I saw @chicken danz mentioned me so I thought now would be a good time to check in.
My birds are doing well. I had a black australorp that developed a bulging stomach - looked bad. I was trying to decide what to do and it started getting better. Hopefully she makes a full recovery. No idea what her deal was.
My babies are doing great. I'm going to give them another 4-6 weeks and look at integrating them with the big girls. Anytime they are out in the yard together, one or more tends to goto bed in the big girls coop - a good sign I think. Their runs are next to each other, so they've got to kinda know each other already.
Funny story - I overfilled a molasses container and made a huge mess all over a large storage tub lid. Not wanting to waste it, I decided to give it to the chickens. They wouldn't touch it! Go figure. So, I dumped scratch onto the molasses and put it out for them. Still not interested. Crazy! So, being clever, I decided to leave it in the coop overnight hoping they'd be interested in the morning. Not at all! So instead of cleaning molasses off my lid, I was able to clean up molasses, covered in scratch and coop litter - along with what the birds deposited while walking on the lid. I definitely lost that one.
I saw a recent post about Heartland Hatchery. That operation is so tempting to buy from because it's so easy. There's tons of people in the KC area selling descendants from them. My single BCM hen is partially from there. That "seller" said she was excited to get BCM's but they laid eggs that looked no different from any other light brown layer. She called the guys who run it and was told (paraphrasing), "We look for egg production and sometimes the other 'features' don't come through." So, she had bought some higher end BCM stock and was breeding from them. Mine lays reasonably dark eggs, but certainly not really dark like some do.
I can't speak to the bird quality as I don't have experience, but I would probably avoid any of the more specialized breeds.