Hi there, Our local feedstores are getting chickens in next week and I've contemplated getting baby chicks for a long time, pretty sure we're going to do it next week. I have convinced my very handy hubby to build a coop and agree to a couple of chickens. I have been reading a ton online about breeds, raising, caring for, etc...however, I'm still wondering about a few things and would love your opinions. These would be pets that donate their eggs to a hungry family. So my main goal is to get hardy, friendly, egg layers, so my children can hold them, collect their eggs without being pecked at, etc...My children are 2 & 4 years old. The chickens would be cooped up at night and let out in the morning into my children's play ground (about 1000 square feet fenced area at the side of our house) during the day to peck at weeds, dirty, etc... We have dogs that would love a tasty treat of fresh chicken kill...so the requirement of them staying IN the play yard is pretty important for their safety, not to mention we are on several acres that also house plenty of wild animals (bobcats, coyotes, mountain lions, racoons, skunks, etc) Suggestions of keeping them ON the ground, vs flying over the 4 to 5 foot fence are welcome. *** what breeds do you think would fit my needs? would it be possible to get 2 chicks from one feed store on Tuesday and then a 3rd chick at the other feed store on Friday and raise them together? Or does that time difference in age matter? Both feed stores say their chicks are arriving at 1 day old. Would a large rubbermaid container be enough space for the first 4-6 weeks before they are put into the play yard? Will 2 or 3 chickens totally distroy my kid's playground with bird poop daily, or is it something I could go in once a week, bi-monthly or monthly and hose off the slides, swings, trampoline, etc..? Will they peck at the toys and distroy them? What is "Free Range"? I was told it meant no coop at night...but would like to hear your definitions of "free range" *** Thank you for your help...if I think of any other questions I'll add them to this thread...in the mean while I'm off to research some more...want these girls to be HAPPY birds!