Ok, I intended to get four laying hens for my backyard flock, and because of the wonder that is Craigslist, I now have 16! I have a small suburban backyard, I need to thin that number down quite a bit. I might be able to stretch and keep six, no more. So what criteria would YOU use to make the selection? I'll explain the limitations I have, and you can suggest any tweaks to my personal plan. First of all, I have one flock of 12 given to me because one (or more) of them are egg eaters. I have a few empty rabbit cages. My plan is to put a few of those chickens into each rabbit hutch, and check eggs. If eggs can be laid and stay in the hutch untouched for 24 hours, that hutch doesn't have an egg-eater in it and those hens can go back in the run. If eggs don't seem to be laid or are laid and disappear, those hens stay in hutches and get separated more until I narrow down which one(s) are eating them. Those get culled. Secondly, the second flock of 4 that I have, I was given because they were exposed to sick birds. (that may not be true, I got a few stories, but they're in quarantine to be safe.) But these are otherwise great birds. If it appears that all the first flock are egg eaters, then these four are going to be my flock. But if I can get 4-6 non-egg-eating birds from the others, I'll cull these because of the issues that can accompany the coughing they were exposed to. Third - LOUD chickens get culled before quiet ones. This backyard is small and close to neighbors. No sense annoying them if I don't have to. Next - after that, I would pick based on number of eggs laid. Next - I was thinking about breeds. I have RIR, Buff Orps, and Barred Rocks, plus a couple I don't recognize. RIR are a winter-hardy breed that tends to lay through the winter. What about the others? I don't mind the RIR's more standoffish personalities, and I think they are beautiful birds. What are your experiences with the other two breeds? Next - If I have multiple birds of the same breed and apparant age, would you choose based on the bird's size? For instance, the adult Buff Orps have quite the size range! Some are on the smaller side of average, while two are downright huge. Would you keep smaller ones or larger ones, or is that irrelevant? I've assured my husband this decision-making process would take less than two weeks (down to 10 days left), and that all but 4 or 6 hens would be gone at the end of that time. So help with the decision making process please! I don't want to make a decision and learn something right after that makes me regret it. Would photos help? I can take them if they would. Thanks in advance!