Hi all! I have had my flock for just about a year now, and things are going great. The chickens have pulled through the winter quite nicely, and as the days warm up, I have been getting chicks (of the chicken variety) on the mind. I have a mixed flock of 12, 11 hens and a rooster. The rooster has been breeding the hens for a few months now, and seems to be getting better at it. This leads me to questions: 1.) The rooster is still pretty clumsy, and though I think he sometimes gets a full smooch in, I can tell that other times he just falls off before he can get the job done. I'm no expert and don't have a trained eye, but this early on is there still a decent chance he's fertilizing some of the hens? Surely he'll get better with age, and I don't want to incubate a bunch of my eggs if they are not fertile. I can see that he does not breed every hen, but there's a chance that if I kept an eye on who's laying, I could get some eggs from the hens that are being bred. Is this how all of this is done? Are there any tricks to this? 2.) My rooster is a Welsummer. He's the only Welly, he's gorgeous, and I really like him. I live in a very cold climate, and after this first winter, have decided that I want future chickens to have small combs/waddles due to frostbite consideration. The welly has a huge comb/waddles. I was thinking that if he bred my light brahmas, those could be some neat offspring. I think they would be large, potentially have some nice coloring, and maybe the brahmas pea comb genes would take over? It would be combining the smallest of combs with the largest to see what happens. This seems insane to me, is this insane? Also on this note, I am a little worried about raising Welsummer/RIR crosses. I have 2 RIR hens, and though very friendly and sociable to me, they are not nice to the other chickens. They seek out weakness and want to destroy. I am worried if I crossed these with my rooster, I'd have huge, man eating chickens on my hands. Unfortunately, I'm not sure I can tell the RIR eggs from the black sex links and the brahmas. Maybe I need to do some egg studying. Can I tell the brahma eggs from the others? My gut says they are the ones that are a little lighter in color, can anybody offer any suggestions to this effect? I haven't seen a lot of talk about breeding on BYC, at least in terms of specifics for beginners, so I thought I would ask these questions. I am just a casual backyard chicken guy, I'm not looking for perfect standards and will not be showing or selling my chickens. At the same time, I want good robust chickens, and don't want to start a new generation of mutts if it would be better to get pure breeds. I really like the brahmas, and if nothing else I might consider ordering some fertile brahma eggs for hatching. Would it be smarter of me to wait to breed until I have a flock that's a similar breed to the rooster?