Hello Out There! So, I've had a fenced in backyard with 8 happy hens and some nesting boxes for the past 6 months and everyone has been very happy. Yesterday, a friend asked me to help her out and take in her 15 baby chicks...they are 2 and 3 weeks old. Fine. We have them set up under the lights, separated from the hens, different food/water. OK. Now I'm thinking I might want to keep some of the rooster's around and try my hand at hatching....do I need a coop now or will the nesting boxes that are out in the open in the yard work? I've read some posts about people talking about their coops and I don't have that set up and I'm wondering if I'm doing this wrong. The hens seem to be happy and fine. They have a semi-enclosed space they go into at night and then they roam free during the day and hop into their nesting boxes when they lay. They poop all over the yard, which is just dirt, that we throw food scraps and crumble over. I've never raked it away because it doesn't smell like amonia or anything...all the poop just seems to go back into the earth. I don't see any signs of disease, etc. I'd like to not have an enclosed coop if possible. Could I just put a roof over the nesting boxes or does that not suit a broody hen? urggh! Thanks for your insight!