Hi, my name is Tracy! My husband and I have started a small chicken farm (plus 3 cute bunnies) in Jefferson, AR. I have a few question and after many days of searching the internet have found this forum SO very helpful. I have changed to a red light bulb (info found here), have introduced my babies to a stick for roosting (info found here) and have discovered that it is not my fault that my baby mallards are so wet/messy (info found here)! I do know, or at least believe, that my 6 chicks are red pullets (the feed store I got the from did not tell me they would all be hens, found this out at TSC. Guess if I would have understood what "production" meant maybe I would have known. I'm learning!!). I do NOT know their age The have feathers on their wings but not their whole body yet. I am getting a trio of silkies from a friend , oh and we have 3 bunnies that all I know is the feed store said "They are just bunnies." when I asked the breed. Have decided not to buy animals there anymore after a visit to TSC and finding out all that I did! We have a 20x16 coop with a 1/4 of it sectioned of for my silkies, and we are setting up a large fenced in runner. I learned the difference between and regular chicken and a bantam at TSC yesterday as well! OK, so let the questions begin: 1. How do I keep my chickens from watering down their breed? (for lack of better terms) 2. Do I wait until my hens are older and by a same age rooster? Does the rooster need to be the same breed? 3. Can I use shredded paper as litter? 4. How high up off the ground should my nesting boxes be? 5. Do nesting boxes have to be flat on the bottom? I found some old horse saddle holders (for lack of a better term) in our barn that the previous owners had. The part that the saddle sat on is pitched like a roof. Thanks so much in advice for all the help you can offer to a city girl turned farmer that has a husband that works 4 jobs so I can work one that I love and pretend to know what I am doing with these chickens lol. Can't wait for the weather to get better here so I can take my babies outside.