Just giving this a try for the first time...
Well, I've got chicks practically coming out of my ears now! Over one hundred at last count, in 6 differnt brooding and holding pens. Yikes! How did I go from 2 ducks a year ago to 8 breeding groups plus layers, and a whole load of chicks?! But I'm enjoying the whole chickeny business immensely. Currently we have 7 Lincolnshire buffs, 15 Nankins, 3 mongrel chicks, 1 gold sebright, and an astounding 72 buff sebrights!
In case you're wondering 'why so many buff sebrights?' I'll tell you: purely to increase my chances of getting better birds than their parents. As a group, they aren't the best specimens. They need improvement in size as they are larger than standard. They need improvement in shape as some hens have whip-tails. They need improvment in colour and lacing as some are quite gold-y and some have less distinct lacing. And finally I will need to get the rosecomb set, as some hens have singles. Hence lots of chicks bred so I have more choice for next year's breeders.
The breeding groups consist of a senior cock and 2 hens, and a junior cock and 4 hens. The chicks are marked to tell which cock's group they came from, but I haven't pedigreed them by hen. The plan is to assess all the cocks together with their sires, choose the best of the bunch and a backup for each group for next year's breeding, focusing primarily on colour and lacing. Same with the hens, but will choose just the best 3 hens from each group, focusing on size and shape this time. If some of the parents are better than the offspring, they'll get another chance next year then.
I'll do the breeding on a massive scale again next year as well, hoping for even better birds. Hoping that after about 5 years I'll have some birds to be really proud of.
A big project altogether, but I like a challenge!