If this is the wrong forum let me know or move me. While I've read up on many things at some point I think you just need to try stuff. However I have some questions. I live on several acres and can't see my neighbors so there's more places to roam. What I would like to do is get a small flock of chickens to just roam about the swampland and somewhat higher woods (where the night time coop would be). There's tons of space and bugs, ponds and weeds and mice and such. But there are also some hawks (red tail) floating overhead and one white feral cat roaming around. I have the space to free range and would really like to just let the kids go where they will. I was thinking of putting the night coop in the more wooded area in the summer for shade and moving it closer to the house in winter for greater sun and closer to electric hookups if I need to add heat. Are shaded woods ok for a summer coop? Will it help with the red tails to have them in the woods or make it more likely they'll be preyed on (if it would help I would throw some dog igloos or whatever to augment the ample fern and brush coverage). And I guess more importantly but perhaps cold-heartedly will the survivors learn from their less fortunate friends who are caught by daytime predators and thus over time I'll have a flock smart enough for my area? Some side questions: 1) Will a rooster help? 2) From what I've read Rhode Island Reds seem to be the most equipped for this scenario. Am I mistaken? 3) Do flocks learn from tragedy what will save them? Or will they all be susceptible to what got the first few? 4) Pretty much expecting some losses (and knowing that they could be 100%) what would be a good start if I wanted to end up with, say, 4 layers (assuming the answer to 3 is "yes"). Do I get 30 birds and then struggle to have coops for them all (or have 75% empty coops) or do I get 10 birds who might be a bit crowded but expect some to, er, thin out? Thanks. Be gentle, I'm an optimistic idiot.