Time to cull more hens to free up a pen for this year's grow-out. Decisions were getting difficult. My "laying flock" is starting to look pretty good. (They are my back-up breeders.) One cull decision just became easy. Egg production in a pen of 9 hens dropped overnight from 6 eggs a day to two. This morning I caught one of my planned "keepers" chowing down on an egg in the nest box. She moved herself to the top of the cull list.
I moved the last hatch of the season to the outside brooder last night. It will be interesting to see how they develop. I'm hanging my hopes on a trio I got from another breeder last fall. Much higher fertility and hatch rate than birds from the other line, and some of the chicks look promising.
The other breeding pens got mixed up when the hens figured out how to get from one pen to the other through the new fencing. I know what pen I collected each hatching egg from, but I have no idea who laid it or who sired it. Maybe I'll have some happy accidents.
Due to the breeding pen mix-up I stopped hatching earlier than planned. Need to re-design the fencing to keep the birds properly separated.
I culled a cock who had placed well in a small show last fall. I don't usually name chickens, but this guy earned the name "Jerkface." Every hen in his pen had damaged skin under the wings. One hen escaped and moved herself into a different pen. He tore up another hen so bad I had to cull her. Extremely low fertility, probably because the hens didn't like him. Extremely low hatch rate from the few fertile eggs I did get from his pen. He was a good example of a decent show bird that shouldn't be used for breeding. I needed the room. He won't be going to any more shows. I did keep his father, who sometimes throws decent looking offspring even though he is not a good show bird himself.
Improving a breed that needs work is a long, slow process. Good thing I like chicken.