I am a newbie to chickens, and am hoping to learn lots about raising chickens in a cold climate, it -12 tonight! I have ten rather sorry looking hens that I got for free, plus their large hen house. I have had my chickens about a month and they are already bursting with health and looking so much better. I am feeding them with layers pellets, grit and mixed corn and they have warm oatmeal and boiled potatoes, and either half a cabbage or other greens twice daily, while the weather is so bad. They live in a 50 mtr enclosure, so pretty much free range, and this will be expanded in the spring by another 50mtr stretch of electric mesh. We live on a farm with 37 acres, and have loads of woodland too, they are currently in a wooded area, with big Scots pine trees all around and lots of brush and scrub to scratch in. Yesterday I found one chicken killing a frog it had found, which it then ate! They are laying approximately 6 eggs per day. Not sure which ones are non- layers, but I ve been told thats good for this time of the year. I have one chicken which apparently seems healthy, runs about and eats well, and lays, but has a very mucky bottom. I dunked her iin a bucket of warm water a week ago and washed her feathers, because I thought it was just mucky from her last home, but she is still got runny poohs. There was a lot of tail feather pecking so some of the chickens, are really bald in the bum area, and have few tail feathers but they are looking better every day. The chickens were starving when I got them, so I guess this was the start of canniballistic behaviour. They are all RIR but with one very large non- laying Suffolk, who isquite old. People have said I should put her in the pot! , but she may make a good broody! I have a young RIR rooster coming next month as I believe its good for chickens to have a male around , that he will help to guard them and lead them to good places to scratch! I also would like to increase my laying hens and eventually produce chickens for meat, just for my hubby and I as I believe we have a moral duty to at least know where our food comes from, and to ensure that any meat animals have a good life and a humane end. I see that as my responsibility, if I wish to eat chicken. I do think it will be difficult for me to do, but I have had to kill injured fledglings before, so I can be quick and accurate. I intend to kill the young birds as roasters, if and when we get get chicks in the Spring.