I have been scouring websites and threads on this site for over a week looking for information regarding raising baby chicks and introducing them into an existing "flock" (mini-flock of 5). While I have found a lot, I am now on overload trying to find exactly what I'm looking for and was seeking some advice and/or pointers to where I can find the answers I need. The knowledge here is so great! We have 4 adult hens (retired from an organic laying operation) that we got 2-1/2 years ago. They're slowing down (although we still get 3 eggs a day most days now, in March, so they're not slackers!) and we wanted to add to our flock. Our intention is to get 5 baby chicks from a reputable local feed store. My husband has a new coop/expanded run plan in motion to accommodate the larger flock. I've been sure of our coop and run plan, how we intend to introduce the youngsters when the time comes, and what breeds to get. Now the brooder question. We live in the city limits and I do not intend to brood chicks every year. In fact, I'm thinking only as needed to retain a flock of 6-9 birds. So, every few years is my estimate. I do not have the room to store a big brooder set-up that I only use every few years. I'm looking for something that will be safe and will fold up easily until the next use. I found this thread and decided that the brooder cave is the way to go! I like the set up on the video here, with the straw and protection from elements. I really like the idea of keeping the set-up outside, where they will live eventually anyway. Safety is my biggest concern, though. We have coyotes for sure (although they have never been a problem with our current set up) and on occasion, raccoons. The raccoons are the ones that scare me as far as the hens go. So far, we've had absolutely no predator problems. Our run is made of hardware cloth and protected from diggers. The new set-up will be as well. I'm thinking about getting a dog cage perhaps - made of wire - to put the chicks in when they arrive. If we get a big enough one, we could keep them in there until they're ready to join the others. I have found lots on Craigslist so it's affordable and they can be stored easily. Seems perfect... but what am I missing? Would it be strong enough to endure a raccoon (if I put the brooder outside of the run)? Or should we just go ahead and make the brooder a part of the run so that the girls get acclimated to each other immediately? I wasn't originally planning on putting them near the adults so soon, due to quarantining concerns. Thoughts???