I see all this chatter online about starting out in exhibition poultry and some of it makes me chuckle under my breath. I started in the early 1970’s as a 12 year old kid with limited funds and access to quality stock. I was only able to get other breeders culls and had to breed them and sort the offspring and strive to make progress every year hoping they were better than the previous year. It was a long painstaking process but I know it made me a better breeder some 50 years later. I am forever grateful to Ralph Sturgeon’s book “Start Where You Are With What You Have”. Too many folks nowadays buy really good birds and simply reproduce those birds and perpetuate that line without ever improving them and oftentimes making them worse. My mentor and supporter, Clay Dove said that the line was not truly yours till you have bred it seriously for 5 years. Because in five years time you probably screw them up at least twice and have to breed your way out of it. This was sage advice and I have had many breeds and varieties over the years and some I improved and some I made worse but with each season you learn something new. When you purchase your foundation stock, buy them from a reputable breeder and ask for birds that will produce good stock. So often the mistake is made in buying or asking to purchase the best exhibition birds and not the best breeding birds. The majority of the time, two good exhibition birds will not produce good show birds better than they are. Strive to produce better offspring by mating a birds strengths to another birds weakness and always strive for improvement every year. This is sometimes not a one or two year program. Most times it is a five to ten year program. Mike and I often talk about the 5 year rule. We have seen many start with birds in this hobby and quit in about 5 years or less. If they make it after the 5 year mark they are usually dedicated and serious about improving their birds. Start with the best breeding stock you can obtain and breed and learn from the offspring every year. Realize that for the first few years you are just perpetuating someone else’s program and once you make improvements attributed to your breeding skills in the line then it is truly your creation. Matt’s Winter Rant for a Snowing January Sunday while watching the Bengals whoop on Buffalo!