A funny thing happened in my breeding pens

It never ceases to amaze me what I find in the nest boxes. My silkies especially. We let the whole lot of them run together (most times) There are blue, black, cuckoo, white, lavender, partridge, porcelain and splash. Porcelain is the new color we added last summer, but other then that the pen has remained about the same. Inevitably at the end of the season I'm usually left with a batch of chicks the silkies insisted on brooding even after the incubators were turned off. 

Here's where it gets funny....first I will show you a picture from last year:

white silkie chicks

Next is the picture from this year:

black silkie chicks

Notice anything odd about that? Not 1 black chick in the first batch, not 1 white chick in the second batch! I just don't understand it....how is it that practically the same breeding group from 1 year to the next can give so many whites one year and so many blacks the next? 

Well, ok...I do understand it! Not only has my 1 white hen been broody most of the summer (broody=not laying) but black just wasn't a real popular color this year this customers. I have to hand it to my white hen Q-tip. She's the best momma ever! Even if she's not being broody, if a chick gets out of a nest box and starts peeping...I will find Q-tip sitting on it shortly. She's mama hen to every chick in the coop. 

Actually, this is not unusual when using the pen breeding method, as there is very little control of individual mating. When pen breeding you only control the hens and cocks available to breed, not how they choose to pair up. You will have males that have a favorite female and because of this they will often keep other males from her. That particular female may only be bred by one male, whereas other females may be bred by both males.

So where does this leave the breeding situation? Well, I have enough black chicks for now...so no more hatching till the white and porcelain girls start laying again, that's for sure! I sometimes do selective breeding and pen girls separately only allowing them the company of certain roos.  Not sure I want to go that route since it is the end of the season. I suppose I'll just have a really great sale on black silkie chicks! That sounds like a plan.

Anyone want to take bets on what color hatches the most next year?


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