Originally Posted by CanadianBuckeye
I have one small Buckeye tree :-) but no seeds ever........ I wonder if they are self pollinating?
My younger cockerels are growing out nicely, but I think their colour may be a bit light. More red than bay...... but pretty all the same!
Minniechickmama, about the hens- I see some photos where the hackle of the hen is darker than the rest, and also where it looks almost like the feathers are laced. While I really like the two-toned look, I assume it's not correct? should the hens be exactly the same dark red as the roosters, very even coloured? Or is it almost impossible to get that in the hens? Is it true that the hens get lighter with each moult?
It is NOT correct to have the neck feathers on the females or males darker. However, it does happen. Ideally, which is what we all shoot for with breeding but isn't easy, is to have a dark, even shade of mahogany bay throughout the bird.
As for the hens getting lighter? The only time they should get lighter is just before molt as their color is fading out all over their bodies and those old feathers are dying and losing their moisture and color. However, they should molt back to the same dark color they were as younger birds. Now, notice I use the words IDEAL and SHOULD.
I have a couple of pullets I have kept back that do have some black in their necks. So, why would I keep them? Because I have a couple of young males that I want to try breeding them with who do no express that black on the surface, and are a little lighter than I would like to see, in hopes that their offspring will be better than either parent.
My goal is to breed toward the ideal/SOP, and sometimes, that means doing it in steps with some, maybe even all my breeding stock. In any breeding flock, you will have two categories of birds, those who are show birds, and those who are breeders. Sometimes those two are the same bird, but often they are not. So, the goal to keep in mind whenever breeding is, can this pairing produce better offspring than the parents?
The next question would be, does this flock/bird, have enough good traits to continue breeding it, or would the time to get it close to the ideal/standard be too long?
I look at type first and foremost. If the bird has a narrow head, if it has too short of a body, if it has a very low tail angle, if it has a short keel... those are things I would be looking for. I only cull on color for things I really don't want to deal with at all, like lacing on the back - they are gone. Light, orangey colored pullets - gone. Cockerels with an odd looking head and face - gone. Cockerels who are noticeably, visually smaller than their 'brothers'.
I think any breeder who has been doing it for a few years or more will tell you, in time you will see what is happening with your flock and make that call of what you will and will not accept in breeding stock. I was so unhappy last year with my cockerels, I culled every one of them. Were they bad? There were probably a few in there that most people would have thought were acceptable, but I wanted to scrutinize them closely to attempt to eliminate some things I found unacceptable to keep around.
There is an old poultry breeder who said something like, your flock will only be as good as the weakest traits you allow to be in your flock. Sometimes that means accepting traits you don't like and will work on, sometimes it means getting rid of everything and starting over. It all depends on what you are willing to work with and for how long?