First of all, I wanted say a big hello to everyone here - I spent HOURS yesterday reading the forums before I joined - everyone is just so gosh darn nice! I'm very excited to have found y'all. Secondly, I openly admit to being an info-nerd. When I start a project, I just want to gather as much knowledge as possible. I'm a first time chicken owner. I bought 25 chicks from McMurrays - 5 White Rock, 5 New Hampshire Reds, 5 Aracaunas, 5 Black Australorps, and 5 Red Star - all females. I've read Storey's Guide to Raising Chickens, and Success With Baby Chicks by Robert Plamondon. I've got The Dollar Hen, but haven't read it yet. Right now, the chicks are in our homemade brooder. When my camera works again, I'll post pictures (grrrr). It is 2 wire dog crates pushed together, with a cardboard draft guard on one cage, and open on the other. They have beginner perches that they love to use - they just turned 2 weeks old today. The whole contraption is on our quite big screened in back porch - so lots of fresh air, but in the shade. During the day, it's quite warm here - in the 80's and 90's, so I don't turn their light on. It doesn't usually get below 60 at night, and they have their light on all night. My husband is currently building their coop - 8X8, 6 feet high on one end, and 8 ft high on the other, with 8 nesting boxes, 2 windows, outdoor run (8x8), and we hope to let them free range during the day. The whole coop will be in the pasture with the horses, and has electric fencing on 3 sides. We plan to move the coop via a skid every couple months. So that's the grand plan. Now here's my question - finally. When do I move them to the coop? And how exactly do I do it so it is a smooth transition? The dog crates/ brooder provides them with 18 sq. feet at the moment, so I'm worried they'll get cramped pretty soon. I was thinking that when they are 4 weeks old, we could put them in the coop (which is directly on grass). Then maybe we should leave them in just the coop part for a few days, then open up the outdoor run (which will be fully enclosed). Then I thought it would probably be a good idea not to let them free range out of their range until they are fully grown (20 weeks?). I could string up their heat light to the coop if we really had to - but it would be hard to have the cord across the pasture, b/c of the horses. I think the horses will offer the chicks protection, as my dogs don't want to go anywhere near the horse, b/c they'll get chased. My dogs also have their own fenced in back yard (we have 10 acres altogether). As you can see - I'm hung up on the details of it all. But after reading the post about the man whose baby chicks were killed by his dog or a fox in his garage..... I just don't want to take any unnecessary risks, but I also want to provide them with the appropriate home for their age. Can anyone help me out? If everyone thinks I should keep them inside the screened in porch for another 4 weeks, until they are 6 weeks old, then I could possibly rig up another dog crate to give them more room.