I am currently keeping 5 buff orpington hens that are 5 months old. I have two that have started laying in the last couple of weeks but the others haven't yet followed suit. I jumped into chickens with both feet (a frequent affliction, I'm afraid), but have very much enjoyed having them! We built a coop (by "we" I really mean my husband and my son) out of old fence boards, some leftover siding and insulation, with a 5x8 ft run. We took about a million safety precautions: coop has a latch-and-lock door for people and a heavy door for chickens, run has three latches on the door, a solid roof, as well as burying the chickenwire 1.5 ft underground. We have frequent visits from raccoons and opossums, as well as the roaming loose dog from down the street who is very friendly to people but not chickens. (Seriously?? Leash your stupid Lab, dude.) We have a moveable pen ("the playpen" we call it) that we place in a different area of the yard every day and put the chickens in for a few hours every afternoon to scratch around and eat grass and bugs. I do have a friend that keeps chickens, but he's old school - he teased us about using insulation in the coop because he doesn't use it, and said "sure they get frostbite, maybe lose a toe or two, but they're fine." LOL I take his advice loosely. He keeps 40+ dark cornish and old english bantams. We also had a house-chicken named Spot a couple of years ago. We were fostering her for this same friend because she was white and speckly and unlike the rest of his flock, and so picked on by the others. We kept her for 5 months, she roamed the house with our 3 cats and 3 kids and slept in an old aquarium full of bedding. We were really surprised at how affectionate and friendly she was, and I suppose she was the reason we decided to jump into backyard chickens. Funny how you learn which baby cry means "I'm wet" and what cat meow means "pay attention to me"... and we learned which clucking meant "where are you?" and what meant "I'm hungry". She came when we called her, even after she was returned fully-grown to my friend's large flock. Ahh, we miss Spot Our orpingtons are named Goldie, Goldie, Goldie, Goldie, and Goldie. We are thinking of tagging them with zip ties now that they're fully grown, has anyone done this or something similar? Glad to be here to learn what I can from the experienced, and share if I can to help others!