Apologies if this topic has been discussed elsewhere - my searches weren't returning the answers I was looking for. The question in the title of my post I realize could have hundreds of different answers based on what a person was trying to do, so specific to me, I am: +keeping no more than 30 birds over winter +breeding long term for utility, which for me means good egg production, especially over winter, winter hardiness, excellent foragers, good longevity, good predator avoidance (behavior and coloring), self-sustaining (broody enough to be able to hatch and rear new chicks). Those are a lot of characteristics to breed for: I look at this as a 30 year hobby. I'm just starting out, currently have 22 hens and 2 roosters, and am figuring out what to add to my flock this spring. If I breed any of my current flock this spring, it will be to learn the process. I currently have 3 Wyandotte hens, 3 Plymouth Rock hens, 16 Orpington hens, 1 Plymouth Rock rooster, and 1 Orpington rooster. My dilemma right now is figuring out what to add to my flock. I plan to reduce my current hen population by 6, leaving room to add 12 more birds, after fall culling, for the winter. And finally, my current specific question: how many of those 12 I keep should be roosters?? It would be easy, management wise, if none of them were, but I worry that will damage my ability to have diverse enough genes down the road. The 2 current roosters are maturing, which makes for much happier hens (all my current birds are 40 weeks old right now). I worry about keeping an extra cockeral this fall, having 3 roosters to 27 hens for the winter. On the other hand, I worry about not having the best roosters to mate next year. In general, for a winter flock of 30 birds, how many roosters are necessary to have a varied enough population for an effective breeding program? Make sense? I hope? With 30 birds year round, how many hens to roosters to be able to mate and breed effectively?