Having just joined Backyard Chickens, after months of watching/reading others' posts, I have my first real chicken quandry. In April, I'm planning to separate my large flock (2 roosters, 8 hens) into two smaller breeding flocks (1 rooster & 4 hens). I want to lead with the fact that this is largely a test-year. We plan to use the majority of the grown chickens for meat (we raise Buffs because they are a dual purpose bird, and last year slaughtered 18 of them). We will keep two young hens to add to the layers, but we are more concerned with this years' chicks as a breeding experiment more than flock improvement (which we'll work on next year when we are more skilled/experienced and plan to start culling hens who are not laying as actively). So the plan follows: 1. Separate the two flocks into outdoor pens in early April (as long as the snow is melted and the outdoor temperatures cooperate). I should note that our outdoor pens have safe, closed off access for egg-laying and predator protection). You can see one in my profile pic - the other is waiting to be built. Wait at least 12 days, so we can trace the chicks' lineage through the rooster. 2. Hope at least two hens go broody (if not: incubator). 3. Move those hens' nests back into the indoor coop brooding areas (which still need to be built). 4. Hatch the chicks in the winter/indoor coop and after a period of time, combine the chick flocks and remove the mother hens back to the regular laying flock in the larger tractor where that flock will spend the summer. I'm basically looking for advice. From the reading I've done, it sounds like a mature Buff hen can sit between 12 - 14 eggs in a deep, well-protected nest. Has anyone had experience with this? What should the nesting area look like? I'm thinking of dividing the two hens to provide optimal experiences and prevent nest swapping. What should I be thinking about? How would you suggest banding the little ones when the time comes? I've read that waiting a week is optimal, but what have you done in the past? Thank you so much for any help/advice you can provide!