Greetings Having lurked for years on and off, I figured it was time to join, and say hi. Usually by the time I see a post or thread, it's old, so posting my two cents seems a bit after the fact. I also really need to see the response from the breeders on how they handle these things. It means I can get a better idea of how they are raising their particular breed(s), because I am closely watching favorite breeders, and finding new ones. I am not technically anything like a "breeder". I raise chickens, and I hatch eggs, but not of one specific breed, or to a show SOP. I started ten years ago here with 20 each of RIR's, Buff Orps, Speckled Sussex, and two OE game adults. Moved into cuckoo Marans, and Welsummers, a year later . Have decided against the Welsummers, at least from that line, for so many reasons. Both of those breeds came from the same breeder. What I breed for is location specific requirements. I have always culled heavily. Mostly: extreme health (or it sounds extreme, after reading what people go through with chicken problems), high quality bodies, growth rate, survival and intelligence temperament (mothering abilities, protective instincts, etc), long term natural production and/or vigor. Only after all that do I take more notice of what their coloring is. Feather quality ends up falling under extreme health for me, so by the time I'm looking at color, they are glowing, well feathered, shiny things. Every person who has purchased my culls (for pets, laying, eating) have all raved about the health, steady temperament, beauty, and laying ability of hens, which makes me feel good, even though that is soooo much easier in a backyard type flock. Chicks are either hen hatched, or incubator hatched, then placed under a broody hen if they came out of an incubator. I prefer hen raised chicks. Much smarter, less destructive, better foragers. Hens seem to go from the first year or three of heavy laying, to less laying, more broodiness. I can't imagine culling a hen at this point in her life, because this is where she shows me what she's really made of. Well, have to admit the ones who thought teaching their charges to eat my tomatoes, via pulling the whole vine down, were not viewed as favorably, even though this was "smart", and I did end up laughing. Roosters that make the cut in the first two years, I think of as valuable workers, and only tend to note their age if I am still using them for breeding. In essence, all the breeders end up having life-long homes with me. When they do pass, it's a time of mourning and sadness. I may never know what an older chicken taste like, but I'm fine with that. If I ever move to a larger section of land, all those breeders that end up staying in my "breeder links" folder will get purchase inquiries from me, because I will finally have enough room for a real breeding program, for each breed. For me that involves A LOT of birds, and culled down to 30-50 of each breed, separated into five lines, with pasture. So for me, space is vital. I would also be starting from scratch (for breeding), although I'd take my aging personal flock with me, to raise hatched eggs, and probably serving the function of reminding me just how great duel purpose chickens can be, as I struggle with the new stock. Wow, that was long, sorry about that. Anyhow, hello all, thank you wonderful people for keeping so many of these breeds alive.