And the best place to start is research. So, I'm heavily considering starting a mini-chicken farm to supply the family with eggs and meat. I've done some basic "figuring" and have come up with a coop design. For the egg production their section will be 20'x16' with a 4' wide, 16' long 3' high hen house. Containing 16 1'wide 1'deep 18" tall nests (all nests further down are the same dimensions) and 4 2"x4" perches 4' long. (I'm in snow country) I plan to have the Hen house mounted on top of 12" Tall foundation blocks with a slight tilt to the front to help drain out the waste when I clean it. In this part of the coop I plan to contain between 25-30 Red Star hens. I chose to split up the breeding stock and the laying stock so I don't get the "bloody egg" as some of these eggs will most likely go to family and friends. Purpose: Egg production. There will be a 4' x 16' breeder section with a 4'wide 4'long and 3' tall hen house with 4 nests and two perches in this section. This section will contain 1 Red Star Rooster and 4 Red Star hens. Purpose: Reproduction of hens. Another "breeder section" same dimensions as the one listed above except I plan to keep 1 Jersey Giant Rooster and 4 Jersey Giant hens in this section. Purpose: Reproduction of hens. The last section will be 12' x 16' and have a 12' long 4' wide 3' high hen house containing 10 nests and 4 perches. This section will hold 12-18 Jersey Giants for meat/egg production. Overal coop/pen dimensions are 40'x16'. If my math is correct and what I read on the subject is correct, the plans I've laid out should be able to adequately house about 60 birds total. Now I have more questions hopefully you guys can shed some light on. 1. Keeping the critters warm in winter; I found something called a Ceramic Heat Emitter which seems to be the most efficient way to keep the coop warm without having "light" in it. Has anyone used these and if so, how many do you think I will need based on the size of the hen houses. 2. The Red Star is a sex-link bird; Has anybody raised this particular breed and used it for a meat bird. Should I bother raising the cockrels I don't necessarily need or just cull them right from the start. (the ability to sex the chicks at hatching will make life easy for splitting up the pullets and cockrels) 3. I chose the Jersey Giant because it seems to be more long lived than the xRock, probably the biggest meat bird and also appears to be a good layer in the winter. Is there something better? 4. Is there a better brown egg layer than the Red Star that is calm and hardy? 5. I'm considering painting the inside & outside of the hen houses with a exterior laytex paint to help protect the wood from water damage/feces. Is that a good idea? Thanks in advance for your input.