Hello everyone, I am very new raising chicks and to this site as well, so I apologize in advance if I sound a little slow! We received 4 full grown hens from a friend who has a good sized flock. We are down to 2 currently in an approx. 12' x 12' coop (my Queensland heeler got one and a bobcat got another ). We let Mary Kate & Ashley (I can't tell them apart) free range an average of 5 or 6 hours a day. We've had them for approx. 11 months now, and besides learning A) my dog has an insatiable fixation on chickens and B) bobcat/mountain lion/coyote proofing the coop, everything has been smooth sailing. About 3 - 4 weeks ago we got 16 chicks from our reputable local feed store. We were told that all the chicks but one were guaranteed pullets. We lost two off the bat (including the one that was possibly a rooster), but the other 14 are doing very well and growing extremely fast! We are quickly realizing that they won't fit much longer in the large dog kennel we've been using as the brooder. I've been reading a lot of the forums on how to introduce new members to a flock, but I still wanted to write in and ask you nice folks for advice on my particular situation, seeing as how the new birds greatly outnumber the older ladies. So #1. How old do the chicks need to be before they can be outside overnight? I live in a rural inland area of San Diego and it's fairly moderate temperatures at night (mid to low 50's mostly). I've heard they need to be "feathered out", does this mean COMPLETELY rid of fluff and have all feathers? Or just mostly feathered? #2. When it does come time to introduce, what would be the best method? I've thought about just adding the dog kennel to the coop for a week or so without letting them out unless the other two are out free ranging. But on the other hand, I'm wondering if the chicks are just big enough to possibly take a little pecking, but not too big to gang up on the other two, would they all eventually just figure things out and fall into order? #3. Quarantining? Is this really that necessary, and if so, how long do you need to do this? The chicks have been in the house since we got them, and have gone outside on supervised "field trips" a few times in area's where the other hens frequent. #3., and this may sound like the most ridiculous question, but I have to ask it! Do you HAVE to have a rooster in the flock?? We've heard conflicting information on the issue, and if we could avoid having a rooster we'd like to. Although I'm not sure we have a choice in the matter (I have a feeling one or two of my "pullets" might be roos). I probably have 20 more questions but I'll start there! Thank you so much for any advice! We were very happy to find this site and it's members with their wealth of knowledge!