My wife and I and two kids (with a 3rd on the way) have decided to take the exciting step and get some "backyard chickens". We live in the burbs in Springfield, MO. Neither of us had chickens in our families growing up and have never really been around them much at all. But we're (more me- ha) excited about getting them and just the sustainable practice that it is. We are looking for advice in the following: 1. Best breed for our situation- we have an over-sized backyard- about 1/4 of an acre, but no fence (coming in the spring so they can free range a bit). We obviously want a good layer, and friendly, weather here is moderate but we can have the extremes sometimes. We have looked at Rhode Island Reds. Anything better? We'll probably start with just 3 or 4 hens. 6 is the city ordinance limit. 2. We have decided on a catawba coop. catawbacoops.com. Any other (affordable) tractors? 3. We have a dog- he is very friendly, not worried about him being mean to the chickens, but we'll watch him. Are there any concerns with the chickens + dog poo in the backyard (i try to scoop but don't always get it all). 4. Food- how much- what kind- what can they eat as far as table scraps? Thanks for the advice! Glad to be a part of the community!