Hi all! Our 9 year old daughter is in her first year as a 4-H'er (and is loving it!) and is carrying Egg Layers as a 4-H project. We built her a 6 x 8 coop, with a 14 x 24 run in progress. She's currently having a blast caring for her 23 five week old chicks from McMurray. 4-H definitely focuses the kids on the business side of running a farm as much as the animal care aspects, and we respect that balance. She's supposed to maximize her egg income, while at the same time keep her flock healthy and happy. Her 4-H record book requires her to record how many of the 23 chickens she decided to keep, and to discuss the reasons for her decision in the book. We know from reading this board that "ideal ratio is 4 square feet per bird"... but being chicken newbies, we don't really know what that means translated into practical chicken-keeping. Is that 4 square feet of inside space only? Inside plus run space? Does completely free range time enter into it? What about weather? Percentage of time able to be spent outside versus inside? Could you tell us the factors you all consider when deciding how many chickens to keep at a time, so we can start our daughter on considering them? All help is much appreciated!