Just a few shots of the 11 week old anconas. They're a striking bird when they start moulting into adult feathers.
As it happens though, I'm only keeping the cockerels. Being a bit of a stickler for productive (as well as healthy) birds, I'd prefer to cross these with the red layers I got from a local hatchery to make a fine layer that has some claims to being pretty.
The red layers are softer natured than ISA browns but have a very similar laying ability (and probably reproductive dramas after the first laying season). I feel the cross with anconas will most likely be a more durable but still good laying bird.
However it is tempting to continue these birds as a purebred line. They seem particularly good foragers with a nice ability to camouflage (giving them a possible edge if I ever do free range in future). Next season I may look around for some non-related anconas so I can stick a few purebred pullets in the pen. But I'm wary of being too seduced by the whole 'purebred' thing, because in so many rare breeds it seems to go hand in hand with poor productivity, low vigour and even uncertain internal conformation (such some light sussex I bought a while ago that continually seemed sick and failed to thrive, then proved on eventual autopsy to have no gall bladders).
I've bought anconas from the source I bought the current birds from before, and they grew up to be wonderful, hardy birds. This may be partly because the breeder is an old-fashioned type who selects for a range of things (not just looks), but it may also be because he's got sufficient numbers of birds to maintain a diverse gene pool. Whatever the case, I feel they're a handy bird to add into my backyard mix.