I have several questions as we are just getting started in this endeavor.. We ordered our chicks online last night. The following is a list of our order, we will be keeping 7 or 8 and folks I work with are taking the rest.. I welcome your comments on my choice of breeds. We don't need many eggs as we only eat a half dozen a week or so, so we plan on giving the majority of them to neighbors and family. Australorps - 4 New Hampshire Red - 2 Buff Orpington - 2 Rhode Island Red - 4 Barred Plymouth Rock - 2 Golden Laced Wyandotte - 2 Silver Laced Wyandotte - 2 Right now I am designing and ready to begin constructing the coop. I am putting some serious money and time in this b/c I think we'll be doing it for a long time. The outside dimensions are 5' x 10' x 6" tall. There will be a full size door. The henhouse will be enclosed in the coop and will be elevated 3 feet off the ground and attached to one end. The dimensions of the henhouse are 5' x 4' x 3' tall. In the henhouse I'm building two perches out of 2 x 3's (rounding the tops with a right angle grinder) and 4 removable nest boxes made of plywood. Each nest box dimensions are 12" wide x 14" deep with a 10" back height and 6" front height. The nest boxes are removable to hose them out when needed. We are getting all standard size hens so those dimensions sound ok right? Security... we have foxes, raccoons and coyotes. I will bury chicken wire a few inches down and around the perimeter of the coop. For the netting or fencing, whatever you want to call it, I just bought some vinyl coated (black) 16 gauge welded wire mesh 1" x 1". I was told the black would blend in with the surroundings more and not be as noticeable as just galvanized metal color. I almost got the green color. Has anyone used the green and do you like it over the black? The entire coop will be covered with metal roofing and sealed tightly against any climbing predators. I saw a henhouse design that had a rear door that opens to allow access to the entire henhouse. My idea is to have the floor of the henhouse one big piece of thin plywood that can slide out to dump the media and poop into the compost pile, hose off if needed and slide right back in. The nest boxes will mount to the inside walls of the henhouse so they won't be bothered when sliding the plywood in and out for cleaning. I'm thinking about 5 inches off the floor of the henhouse, that sound ok? Remember the inside height of the henhouse will be 3'. If I just dump the henhouse contents in a hole in the ground, will this compost alone over time or do I need to build a compost box? I have a small apple orchard I plan on using the manure for and I know I need to compost it first so it doesn't burn apple trees and plants in the garden. Can I add the dimensions of the henhouse together with the dimensions of the run as a total for the coop? I mean when calculating dimensions to see how many chickens can be housed comfortably is it like this: 5' x 10' run = 50 sq ft + 5' x 4' henhouse = 20 sq ft TOTAL 70 sq ft for coop...correct? or is it just 50 sq ft b/c the henhouse is enclosed in the run? I'll drill vent-holes in the henhouse. As far as venting in the summer, is that sufficient with the opening left open? I mean the doorway the chickens use to enter the henhouse, should I put some kind of flap on there for winter? And do most people use a lamp in the henhouse during winter for warmth and to keep the daylight lond for laying? The feeder and waterer I will buy from the local farm store and hang from the bottom of the henhouse. The media for inside the henhouse, is hay / straw okay? I think cedar shavings is more popular but I think that would get expensive after a while. The media for the run, is this necessary or is a dirt/ grass floor ok to start with? I realize there are a lot of questions here. I welcome any advice, comments and suggestions. Thanks very much for your time.