Thank you all for the help. I've received a few private messages pointing me in the right direction. I've also heard about the closed borders in Texas, and while I could try to drive out for a show, I would really like to enter or bring birds to better be advised. I am still searching for a mentor, but in the mean time am preparing my birds for spring. I've done some evaluating of my Marans and thought it might be beneficial to post my work here for those who are also new to the whole endeavor of breeding to the standard. I would like to mention they are far from anything to talk about, but I think I can make a step in the right direction this year if I make some smart decisions. I also realize that more than just these photos should be considered when making breeding decisions, and each bird will be held and evaluated before a final choice is made.
I have several older hens I will be moving to the laying flock, and four pullets that will be replacing them. While their type and color is still pretty bad, it is much better than the original birds that look like nothing more than mixed breeds. All pullets are 6 months old and half sisters, and the unrelated cockbird is almost 2 years old.
Green leg band- Her tail is still growing in, but appears to have a good angle so far. Shank feathering is correct. Copper color needs to be more prominent and extend fully to the top of the head and ear. Her back is far too long and chest is not deep enough, though I believe it may fill more with maturity. Thigh feathering is moderate.
Red leg band- Her hackle color is nice and vivid, but it needs to fully extend to the top of her head and ear. She has color leakage on her chest. Tail angle appears too high with incorrect slope of back. Her chest has a good fullness to it that should improve with maturity and shank feathering is correct. Thigh feathering is too loose
Cockbird- His back and tail angle are correct, but he is overall too upright and short of back. He needs tighter feathering on his thighs. Wattles are overly large and comb is not correct. Tail is too spread vertically. His color is incorrect and his ear is black. Stubs are present between the inner and middle toe
(Green band pullet can be seen on the left in the photo above ^)
Yellow band- Her hackle color is lacking and does not reach the top of her head or earlobe. Her back is too long (though I believe her tail angle may be correct?) Her wing carriage is good and shank feathering is correct. Thigh feathering is too loose
Blue band- I was unable to get a good profile shot of her, and only have front views. Her hackle color is my favorite. It does not leak into her chest and extends to the top of her head, but is still absent from her ear. Shank feathering is correct. I like the tight feathering of her thigh. However it appears her back and tail angle are wrong. I will have to reevaluate her in the yard to be sure.
My question for you all is if hatching this spring from the cockbird and pullets would be worthwhile or a complete disaster. I'm considering hatching and seeing how the offspring come out, then just tossing the new pullets in the laying pen and cockerels in the pot if they don't turn out how I hope. I'm thinking that the cockbird can slightly shorten backs while more firmly cementing a correct slope to the back and tail. However I'm concerned he may muddle the hackle color in the generations to come.
I had another unrelated cockerel I was considering as a breeder, but he ended up being a mess type-wise and having side sprigs in his comb. There aren't many shining examples of the breed I can obtain a cockerel from
Thank you for any advice that you can administer and I apologize for the monster of a post.