My landlady, awesome woman & friend, bought 16 day old chicks, layers, last Sept, & I've had full responsibility for them since. I've bought about half their feed too. They currently, happily & healthily, live in a large coop. Within the next few weeks she insists I have to let them out, unfenced, supposedly so we can save money on feed. The four acre property we're on is very open & adjacent to many wooded acres, home to various & numerous wildlife, including coyotes, foxes, raccoons, possums, skunks and, well, you get the picture. Yeah. Plenty o' predators+16 goofy chickens=a lot less than 16 chickens in a short amount of time. Even I can figure that out. Plus one very heart broken mother hen (me!). One idea I have is a covered run attached to the coop door or an opening for them to use at will during the day. Also, I could supervise them out of the co-op for a couple hours a day since I'm self employed & work from home. I have one rooster & our 3 month old German Shepard may eventually be a good guard dog for them. I did search the forums for answers & got some great info on runs & preventing loss to predators but I still have a couple of questions. 1. Given that it's still winter here in southern Oregon (still raining, only a few nights around freezing,) a little vegetation like shrubs but no grass & not much ground cover & a few trees, I'm not sure we'll save a bunch on feed anyway. What would be the most we could save on feed if they were out during daylight hours, 50%, 25%? Has anybody figured this out for their flock? It might not be the same for us, but I'd like to at least know what the best case scenario would be. 2. Would leaving them out for a couple of hours per day even make a difference in the cost of feed at all? 3. Would a fenced, covered pen (400 sq ft?) they could access during daylight at will save much in feed either? 4. Lastly, does anyone have any other information or suggestions that could help make everybody happily here? Also, just so you know what a softy I am, if push comes to shove, I will pay for ALL the feed and even buy the little stinkers from her before I accept the idea of losing ANY of them! Honestly, my partner & I will probably build them a run either way. She never comes to see them so, picture the scenario... "Chicken run? What chicken run? OMG! Where the heck did that come from. Fricking aliens! Gotta be. Wait, no! Sasquatch! Criminy! Look for footprints. U-Tube, here we come..."