Did I ever tell you what the breeding pens are this year? I should explain that, it might help clarify all this chicken stuff.
Brassy: Brassy Back male X Brassy Back and Blue Brassy Back females. Should produce ~50% each color.
BBRed1: Black Red male X BBRed females. Should produce 50% each color. FYI Black Red = 1/2 Black, 1/2 BBRed.
BBRed2: BBRed male X Black Red and BBRed females. Should produce over 50% BBRed, under 50% Black Red.
Black: Black male X Black females. 100% Black
Blue: Blue male X Black and Splash females. Expected mostly Blue and Black, a few splash.
This is how batch 4 turned out:
From the Brassy/Blue Brassy breeding pen, there are 2 Brassy Backs and 4 Blue Brassy Backs. From the Blue breeding pen, there are 2 Blues, 3 Blacks, 1 Splash, and 1 Goodness Knows What. Blue Brassy Splash? Blue Red Splash? I have no idea.
So, obviously, my Blues are not breeding true. I wondered if they would, that was part of the reason for setting up a breeding pen. The Blue cockerel, and the one Splash hen are both descended from the Brassy/Blue Brassy line. Years ago, I hatched a nice Blue male out of a Black X Blue Brassy cross. Two years later I think, the male I was using in the Brassy pen was infertile. In desperation, I used the Blue. He produced several Blue and Splash babies from that pen. Those were the birds that hatched in 2009. I bred the splash females to a Black, and got the Blue cockerels I was showing this season (hatched in 2010). So, they are definitely not proper true-breeding Blue (Blue/Black/Splash) since they are throwing Brassy Back and Goodness Knows What. Okay, good to know. Not that I care, but that's important to know. If they're good I'll still show them, and sell them with disclaimers. ;-)
But the real problem here is the lack of BBReds and Blacks. I went into this early hatching season saying I need to focus on BBRed, and a few Black. That's not going well. I'm hatching the Blues out of curiosity, and also for someone else's project, but I don't need many of them... and now have a lot. I was only hatching Brassy/Blue Brassy to verify fertility to sell eggs, and yeah they are 100%, so they're good to go
The old Black and BBRed roosters are having terrible fertility problems. I've swapped in a Black cockerel and that definitely improved things in the eggs I set a week ago. The Black Red male that heads up the "BBRed 1" pen is very fertile, but hatchability is very low. I'm wondering if I'm just running into too many inbreeding problems with that line. I cross the BBReds back to Black fairly often, but maybe they're just all too related. What to do?!?! Ack! It's not like I can go out and buy more BBReds. I've got a bunch of eggs in the incubator from the Black Red X BBRed pen (should produce 50% BBRed, assuming they hatch) but that's not going to result in much. I've got a studmuffin 100% fertile Blue cockerel who is obviously carrying some duckwing genes (I do NOT understand Brassy genetics though, no idea what I'm getting into here), so I did the unthinkable. I'm breeding the Blue to the BBReds. I'm not trying to get into another color, no no no, I am going to see if I get BBRed out of this, and if I do, that's an nearly-unrelated outcross that might be a major boost to the BBRed line. I have to do something, I'm desperate, I need some good birds out of that line this year or it's going to start spiraling downward pretty rapidly.
And this is why I tell people to make their own bloodlines. With Black Rosecombs, if you want to outcross, there are a zillion unrelated but all really good bloodlines. Not the case with BBRed! Too bad. I hope this works!
OMG I'm totally rambling, it's time for bed!