It's only taken me 5 months to finally sign up and post to the forums even though I occasionally came searching for answers... I live in SW Virginia with 2 dogs, 10 cats, and 21 chickens (bought as chicks in April of this year) and never thought I'd enjoy the birds so much! It seems as though everyone in my neighborhood grew up with chickens so I get a lot of sensible advice but...being old farm people... they seem to think we've gone bonkers. My screen name is the name of the "One Free Rare Exotic Chick" added to our order. It took us months to figure out her breed! Sal is a real looker and brave to boot. She's been known to take a position in front of the roosters when a predator needs to be dealt with! She and Number Three (a roo) learned that if they come close I'll hand feed them treats. She has decided that my husband is "her man" and will follow him around the yard or coo at the window for him to come out again. In all, we have 8 banty frizzled Cochins (3 roos), 6 standard partridge Cochins (no roos), and 7 Dominiques (5 roos.) Our resident hawk has a preference for hens, it seems..... The birds have a coop that started as a lean-to shed which I enclosed with scrap boards. It's ugly but I'm rather proud of it as it was a new thing for me. I even figured out a simple floating floor that wouldn't require much work to build. An extension cord delivers electricity for lighting when I need it but two windows suffice most of the time. They have an automatic door and "Avian Aqua Miser" nipple waterers. I don't feed them inside the coop at all, which makes for a little less mess. Finally, I use the "deep litter" method because I'm lazy. They enjoy their liberty all day and go in at night. They used to be confined to a yard but that hawk and a young 'coon realized the chickens could be cornered on the netting so I decided the safest thing I could manage was to let them truly free range. Shortly before I was due to off the roos I discovered I needed to give up meat. (Boy was that a surprise!) The roos got a reprieve and I can report that all eight seem to get along reasonably well. With several acres of lawn, field, and forest at their command they can comfortably spread out during the day. When danger approaches they close ranks, hustle the girls into safe hiding, and work together. Yeah, the doms are a bit too enthusiastic about mating but not enough to show any damage to the girls. The only behavior problem they have given me is that Number Three hates my Staffordshire Terrier. Did you know that the movements a cockerel makes when challenging very closely mirror those made to initiate play by little ground-hugging dogs? It's sort of funny but I'll have to give Three away before Rocky wins for good. Finally, I'll tell you about Buster, our chicken-guardian. He's our 18 month old Norwegan Forest Cat who has taken the birds as his particular farm duty. He hangs out close to them all day and refuses to come in until he is certain his charges are safely settled in for the night. There are several bird calls that refer to the cats... the ones they don't trust, the ones who they know just like to get them riled up... and then there's a mellow cooing for when it turns out to just be Buster on the horizon. When real danger presents itself, though, all the cats come running to help run off the varmint. No doubt, one day, I'll find them eating that darned hawk!