What Breed to Keep
This is a question that is always asked, the obvious answer is keep the breed that most appeals to you. However in saying this there are some factors to consider the obvious being are you wanting bantams or large fowl? It is worth taking into consideration that if wanting to keep non flighty chickens it is best to stick to the large heavy breeds like Sussex, Australorp, Wyandottes, etc and avoid the light breeds such as leghorns, Minorca, Polish etc. At the end of the day the birds you choose to keep should be researched to be sure they will have the characteristics you are seeking.
If just starting out, it is best to focus on a breed that is fairly common as they are generally easier to breed from and can be found with good quality stock available. It is understandable that many people find the rare breeds desirable, however this is not a great path for beginners as far more poultry breeding knowledge is required in establishing a rare breed flock. Save the rare breeds for later once you have got your poultry breeding knowledge and as a plus, it is another thing to look forward to, now the poultry bug has bitten you.
Choosing a colourful fowl is fine but just ensure you are not just dazzled by the colour, be sure the colourful bird is still a good representation of its breed, showing the correct type. On many occasions I have met beginners at their first show outing really dissappointed to find out that although their treasured bird is a beautiful colour it is in fact the incorrect type for the breed specifics.
I would recommend purchasing your stock direct from a respected breeder, contacts can be found on this site. The best advice given to me as a kid starting out some 30 years ago was, it is as easy to feed a good one as a bad one so why feed bad ones? Start with the best possible stock available to you. These days with the introduction of poultry specific transporters getting birds sent to you from long distances no longer poses problems
A common mistake made by most beginner's is to keep too many kinds. Concentrate on one or two breeds at first and don't add another until you have gained experience on the first. This is the best advice in the world, but seldom followed.
Remember to ask questions from people who are long time respected breeders and don't rely on the words of self proclaimed experts as many exist in the poultry fraternity.
An absolute must for anybody serious about breeding exibition poultry is obtaining a copy of the Australian Poultry Standards book, this book provides you with a perfect reference for what you should be looking for in your chosen breed. Breeding that perfect bird the same as the standards book is where all the fun begins, acheiving it is the ultimate reward.