My family and I had backyard chickens in North Florida and loved them. When we moved to the Atlanta suburbs, I was worried about having them again because our backyard only has a picket fence around it and backs up to woods and a creek. While I've never seen racoons, foxes or opossums I KNOW they're out there. And then there are the hawks who nest all around. I felt it would be irresponsible to get pet chickens only to lose them to predators.
I was recently at my favorite plant nursery who had the cutest cedar coops at great prices, so I bought one and my husband built a run. We added wire underneath the coop and run with heavy stone all around to ward off any "diggers". Currently, I have one black bearded Silkie (Luna), one Australorp (Oreo), two Easter Eggers (Rosie and Angel), and one Barred Rock (Pickles). The Silkie and one Easter Egger are 7 months old. While the Silkie is adorable, she's dumb as a rock. The Easter Egger seems much smarter, alert and curious. The other three are 8-12 weeks at purchase and are doing fine. On the first day after bringing them home, I found bloody stool in the coop. Not knowing "who" it belonged to, I treated them all with Clorid in the water. 2 days later, no more blood. I'm still going to treat for a few additional days just to be safe. My girls free-range only when we're outside, under trees, and within a few feet of them. The rest of the time, they're in their coop, run or lap. I can't wait to start enjoying fresh eggs again!!