Ditto, a notebook, pen cards, bandettes on each and colored rings, gives numbers and year of hatch at a glance, new software, freeware and higher level paid called Evans Software, and sales records of all chicks and eggs received.
I keep my chickens in pairs or trios, those not kept for breeding go in a bigger layer pen for eggs. All roos get culled at least four times in their first year, I keep 2-3 of each breed.
A notebook, a pencil, a toe punch & numbered pen tags. Also a pretty good memory & an understanding of the birds I breed. I can pick a half grown bird out of a pen & without checking toe punches can almost always tell you which mating it came from. That's the most important part of a breeding program, know your birds & what they produce.
We too are just starting out, so welcome to the club!
So far all we've been using is a notebook, and photographs.
Most of our photos are numbered (bird's leg band number - will be in the future replaced with wingband number) and the date. We are doing the photos more than anything for teaching ourselves how to spot early development of faults or merits that we see in these birds later on. Also, so we can look back and see progress of the line, as well as see if there are traits we've culled out that are recessive and they show up in later generations from birds of similar breeding to the cull birds.
We looked into I think it's called Kintrecs? I think Rhonda has played around with it more than I have - I just don't trust my laptop enough to put all that data on there!
I have a folder that someday will be our "stud book" with a conformation photo, pedigree, weight records, vaccinations, show records, etc. of each of our breeder birds.
Right now our birds aren't good enough to waste the printer ink... but I can dream!
This is only my 2nd and 3rd year working with patterned varieties - progressive photos have been a huge help. When I started working with them (patterns), I just assumed all chicks would end up with the same (hopefully) correct pattern when from the same parents . . . wrong!! So I'm learning which early patterns develop into correct patterns as they mature - photos are invaluable to me at this stage of my learning.