Hi, all! A little nervous about posting in this particular forum- I know many of you are breeding to type for showing and other purposes. Those of you who do that may want to smack me for talking about crosses. For that, I apologize in advance. I have had my flock for almost two years now. I got them all from Murray McMurray (yes, I know). I want to start trying some breeding within my own flock. I have 3 ultimate goals: great layers, great meaties, and beautiful olive eggs. Of course, not all in one breeding! I know that the first couple of years are probably going to be dabbling just to get the hang of it, so I have no illusions of creating anything remotely interesting in the first several breedings. Kind of like knitting- I just want to start doing it even if I can't cast on or cast off yet. Here is what I have in my flock: Roos: a Cuckoo Maran (who I think is gorgeous) and a Dark Cornish (very handsome, deep breast, but sounds like he has laryngitis all the time) Hens: 3 Black Stars (my only hybrids because I think they're just so pretty) 2 Delawares (one big-butted, fluffy white and one smaller with dirty-looking feathers) 1 Dark Cornish (nice-looking girl, not too skittish) 3 Cuckoo Marans (the most beautiful of which is a cross-beak with a twisted foot) 3 Easter Eggers (I often get 3 greens a day so I think they're all laying green, one is a beautiful sage green. One is a pretty Wheaten but is also a cross-beak) 1 Partridge Rock 1 Brown Leghorn 1 Redcap (SO disappointed in her tiny comb and she's really skittish) 1 Gold-Laced Wyandotte 1 Salmon Favorelle (likes to peck my legs- not a nice girl at all) Here's what I think I want to try in the spring: 1) Dark Cornish X Dark Cornish (I'm assuming the order of this is female X male- if not, please translate for what follows below) - I'd like to have some pure DCs for the freezer next year 2) DC X Cuckoo Maran - I'm interested in this cross because Marans are considered one of the tastiest meat birds and DCs are the standard in meaties 3) Cuckoo Maran X Cuckoo Maran - just love having them around and would like to select for darkest eggs 4) Cuckoo Maran X DC - this (I think) would be a sex-linked cross and might make some great meaties 5) EE X Cuckoo Maran -would like to breed some olive eggers and would love to have them cuckoo Any thoughts anyone has on these potential pairings is VERY much appreciated. I'm reading as much as I can on the subject in the meantime. Any other interesting pairings that you see? One question I have (that I know I probably can't get a definitive answer to) is how do I know for sure if my two beautiful cross-beaks are that way from genetics or incubation? If it wasn't a genetic problem, I could include them in the breeding program. However, I remember that some members here counselled me to kill them when I first discovered the problem. I understand making sure that no genetic fault gets into any breeding program and I would never take that risk- but they are both gorgeous. Anyway, sorry for the incredibly long post. I'd love to have any guidance you might have to offer me on getting started in breeding. My goals are only practical- not showing my chickens. Some day, I'd like to have a few bloodlines of my own that breed true but I'm a long way off from that right now. Thanks!