Nice looking flock! Good to hear from you.
Since you are going to focus on the one flock, you know from the old breeders that you "build the barn first before adding the paint".
I always keep the best 3 cockerels and 6 pullets from each breed pen. There are two Columbian Wyandotte pens so that is 6 cockerels and 12 pullets AND the breeders from the current year.
As would often happen, depending on one or two cocks without a backup can have dire consequences when a predator or sudden illness takes that best bird.
Personally, I would keep the third cockerel. He has nice stature and his size would improve with nice sized hens.
The hens selected are really nice...even the one with the white lines in her tail.
You can do a brief breeding of brother and sister...say 25 chicks....and carefully cull defects. The nic between the siblings could offer you some really nice birds to add to the line....toe punch and leg bands are extremely helpful with them.
Yep...our flock was quickly out growing the space at our chickens sitters place so we ended up taking the flock back two weeks before we got their new coop painted. We would have painted it earlier, but spent a weeks and half after we got them back building the fencing to their 1/2 acre chicken run. So yep the barn was build before it was painted.
I don't have a set number that I keep from each pen. I always plan on keeping about 10% from each pen in every grow out group and culling the rest but some year I end up keeping 20% keepers because we get some good pairing and are able to replace the breeding stock with better stock. Other years I cull 100% of the flock mix up the breeding pairs and try for better the next year.
Yes, I have lost my favorite bird in the flock to illness before. It is never a big loss though. They are usually birds less than 18 months old (my breeding hens are 2+ years old except when I am building a flock) and I always have other options.
The worst loss I have was in the Summer on 2011 where we recorded 112 deg F temperatures in our area. That was w/o any heat indexing. We lost 80% of the flock to heat. Those that survived were better fit for Texas heat and in follow years when we got over 105 deg F (which seems to be the magic number when hens start dying) we got through with rarely any losses at all. So the flock greatly benifited from those losses because it came out a lot stronger.
Our second biggest loss was with our Basque flock. We had four hens and a cockerel on our property and send our cock bird and four pullets to a friends 30 minutes away. First a predator took one of the pullet at our friend's. Then a month later we lost three hens to a predator on our property. Then the next day a predator took the cock bird and two more pullets at our friend's. We were left with on hen, one pullet, and one cockerel to rebuild from. Fortunately the cockerel was unrealated to both the pullet and the hen so we still had a trio to work with the following year. Having back up was almost not enough with the Basque flock that year but we eeked through.
I will NOT be doing any brother sister mating. I already am 4 years into breeding Cream Legbars and have pedigrees and toe punches on everyone in the flock. On pairing turned out really good this year (three of my four best cockerels and two of my four best hens), but I need to keep the blood from the other lines in my breeding program to keep from working myself into a corner with my gene pool. I will work out a plan to offset defects in birds from one pairing/breeding group with mates from other breeding groups/pairing. I am not doing a sprint in my breeding plan I am doing a marathon. I want to breed a closed flock of Cream Legbars for the next 20+ years so I am working on breeding birds in the flock that are the furthest relationship to each other possible. I focus on improving every line in the flock.
Edited by GaryDean26 - 11/17/15 at 8:39am