With my silkies, I am doing sort of a pedigree mating. I am keeping track of
which hen and rooster produces which chicks. This starts before the eggs are
laid. Once I pair up the chickens, I dont start collecting eggs until 3 weeks
have passed. This way, I am sure that the chicks I hatch are from that rooster.
If I am keeping a trio together, I use food dye inserted into the hens butts. I
redo this every 5 or so days. This way, when the hen laying the eggs her eggs
come out with food dye on it, so I can be sure which hen laid which egg. Once I
gather the eggs, each egg gets the mating written on it in pencil. If the hens
band is 55 pink and the roosters band is 63 pink. I write "55pX63p" on the egg,
along with the day the egg was laid. Once it comes time to put the eggs in the
incubator, I rewrite this info in a fine point sharpie, so I can be sure it wont
rub off in the incubator. I have 2 incubators I use as hatchers. This means that
I can only incubate eggs from 2 different hens at one time. When they hatch the
eggs from one hen go into one hatcher and the other hens eggs in another
hatcher. I have tried dividing up the incubator with some hardwire cloth, but
the chicks hop right over it.
Once the chicks hatch, they stay in the incubators for around 24 hours so
they are all dry when I remove them. I take each chick out and I mark down its
back with a sharpie. For example, chicks from one hen will get blue and the
other chicks will get red. This lasts until the chicks down turns into
feathers. I have never had a problem with chicks pecking at eachothers
marking. At 1 week of age, the chicks get permanent numbered wing bands applied.
I record the wing band number (and color if there is one), and the parents info,
their hatch date, and some notes about the chicks. I apply numbered plastic
bandettes once the chicks legs are big enough so they stay on without slipping.
I have a binder that I keep all these records in. As the chicks grow, I take
notes on each individual chick, and guesses on gender.