The title says it all. I've been a Texan for almost 50 years, but I'm a chicken newbie. I've been lurking and studying coop design and chicken breeds, but I haven't invested anything into this chicken thing yet. I have $300 set aside in my "mad money" place, but I've estimated about $400 to build a 4'x8'x4' chicken tractor with a 2' tall secured run beneath. I plan to install 5 gallon buckets that are plumbed for water/food distribution and include fill ports that are outside accessible. I want to also use 5 gallon buckets as nesting boxes with large doors on each end to access the buckets for egg gathering and maintenance. There will be a front door on the long side with hardware cloth and a removable cover to help ventilate in the Texas heat. I may include a couple of small muffin fans and a light for when the coop is close enough for an extension cord. I will include eye bolts at the top corners to anchor the tractor for high winds. I live on an acre about 30 miles outside of Dallas. The 1/2 acre back yard has a 4' fence and I have 4 dogs. 2 of them are under 10 lbs and are "ankle biters". We also have a pitbull/Dalmatian mix and another medium sized dog. I hope to be able to free range, but if not, I will build portable runs that I can connect to my tractor to spread the fertilizer and make cleaning easier. I haven't decided on chicken breeds yet. I want variety. It will make it easier to tell the girls apart and I will have multiple colors of eggs. I think Wyandottes are pretty. (all colors) I like Barred Rocks. They are locally available and seem to have good reputations for being docile and good layers. I like Ameraucanas for the blue/green eggs. I'll probably start out with 4 chickens, as that's all I can support for grazing in 32 square feet until I can either free range or build portable detachable runs to protect from my dogs. I figure I can squeeze about 10 hens max in the tractor with some creative perch design and increased grazing space. Chickens were my wife's idea, but I'm the one who ran with it on the planning end. I'll have to include her as I sometimes travel for work. My son's can also help, but they have busy lives as well. Me: Air Force Veteran, born and raised in Texas, married for almost 25 years to a lovely gal Children: I have 3 sons. Our 23 year old is stationed in KS in the USAF. My 20 year old works on his uncle's ranch part time. I never know what he will be doing. He castrates hogs, herds cattle, takes care of the chickens, mends fences, etc........ My 14 year old is a freshman and he is playing baseball in the spring. He is also one of the top Alto Saxophone players in the region. I just found out he made the top band as a freshman and has a good shot at first chair in a good program. That's me. I hope to learn a lot from ya'll.