Hi, I'm sure there's been a post about this before and I searched and found some good ideas but I figured I'd still ask because it's a little but unique and I have some questions about what I found. So. To start, we don't have chickens yet but we're considering getting some and my dad hasn't been outwardly opposed as with other things (sometimes if I wanted a gerbil or something he'd just be like no! were not getting a gerbil, you dont even take care of the cat, blah blah) so it seems like he's pretty on board, but his main concern is the predator thing. And I asked him this, if he's mostly onboard but his main/only real concern is the predator thing and he said yes so I'll take that as a good sign. But we've got this one silver fox around here that my dad seems to think is smart and will get in even if we predator proof. So we need to figure that out. Now, onto what I found and the issue. I found this post that I guess I'd previously replied to a couple years ago about protection from a fox that had gotten some hens, so of course I clicked on it because that's what our main issue will be, and most of the responses were about the same, how if it had already gotten birds they needed to get rid of the fox somehow or keep the birds locked up, but I noticed that someone suggested Nite Guard and we went to the website and it seems like a great idea, I can't find anything wrong with it or bad testimonials, so I'm wondering if it really does work?? We have raccoons and skunks as well, which I think you set at the same height as you would for foxes so that's not an issue, but we have coyotes too so it would need to be higher so I'm not sure how that works? Do you put some at one height and others at another height orrr?? We have a Black Lab/Great Pyrenees mix who will be 2 years old in March (7th to be exact. Whoa, that's already next week..) and lately he's just been going and said and laying on the hill in the back yard, observing. Sometimes he'll sit on the deck too. So we were thinking it might be good for him to have something to guard, be it goats or chickens (his mom had a herd of goats), during the day. But we recently had the idea to get an electric fence for the yard, which we wanted to do anyways, and leave him out at night to help protect. Would that work? He usually sleeps on the bed or couch haha but we figure that him just barking from inside wouldn't really do much if they were determined. At first we thought it would but if they're determined, we don't think it would. But would it be irresponsible to just have him on electric fence? Should he maybe be in a pen or rope? But our worry with the pen, or at least mine since I haven't brought it up yet, would be sort of the same as in the house, they won't be scared of him if he's locked up and the threat of a fight isn't there..or would they still be scared? My dad thinks no coyote in their right mind would mess with him so would this apply to inside a pen too? hahah he's BIG, 130 pounds, but he's also lazy and sometimes sleeps through things, which is another concern of mine, though he usually catches coyotes, he barks almost all night quite a bit. So if he's RIGHT THERE, would he catch something? And not that we'd want him fighting any animals, whether he's loose or not, but he does have all his shots so that's not too too much of a concern. He's never been outside overnight but he needs a job and he's half LGD so I figure he'd love it..and do a **** good job. Thoughts?? Now, as I've said, the main predators we'd need to keep away are raccoons, skunks, coyotes, and that big silver fox. We occasionally have hawks but haven't seen one in years since we accidentally cut down a big pine tree that was their nest, but with the addition of chickens, they might come back along with owls?? We would also do all the normal procautions, along with the Nite Guard and the dog. So far I've heard the hardware cloth suggestion for a run and coop, though they'd most likely be free range, and burying it a foot under and a foot out so they can't dig in, and I think I've heard something about protecting windows and vents? But that's about it. How do you protect the coop? Or is this enough? We want to do all we can to make sure any future birds remain safe, though it's almost guaranteed to lose at least one or two? Or not if we do it right? Now, sorry for all the questions, but I have one more question.. I have heard that chickens always come back to the same spot (the coop) to roost at night and to lock them in the coop for a few days to a week (think it was like 2-4 days) so that they establish exactly where that roost is and from then on they'll come back, or should. BUT. does that also apply to free range birds? I've also heard horror stories of one or two chickens deciding to go roost up in a tree for the night, how likely is that and how do you get them down if they do decide to do that? And if the dog is loose to patrol the property, would he be able to protect that bird? Or would he not really know to/be more focused on protecting the whole coop? I thought maybe if something tried to grab one he would hear it too, right?? But we mostly have 75-100 foot pine trees and then maples and oaks and baby pines/scrub brush in the back part (were on about 3 acres and set back in woods, yard's prolly 2 acres so woods would be half acre, acre, I think of it all as ours but technically there's property lines we share with neighbors) so how likely is it that they'd be able to, or would want to roost up there? I just don't want to be so observant of every other safety measure and then lose a bird that decided to fly the coop and go roost up in a tree. I'm considering Plymouth Rocks (Barred and maybe a White or two, possibly partridge but not likely), Rhode Island Red, New Hampshire Red maybe?, Buff Orpington, Black Australorps, and Red Star/Sex Link, and maybe one or two other breeds, and we'd probably only have between 5 and 10. From what I understand, most of those aren't great flyers? We are considering those breeds, or at least I am, because we need great egg layers and want them to be friendly. I feel like them being friendly is more for me cause they'll be like pets to me xD hah but we want them to be friendly and not flighty or aggressive or anything like that. Our neighbors right on our back end and hates our dogs so we don't want a rooster, only hens. Plus they need to be cold hardy cause were in eastern Massachusetts. If anyone else knows of any other breeds, I'd probably consider them too. Thank you Oh and also, one last quick thing, if anyone happens to know of good coop plans, we'd appreciate that too. I think I might have found one already but I'm not sure and we're always open to suggestions. My dad doesn't believe me when I say they need at least 2 1/2 or 4 sq ft per bird, and that's IF they're free range (he wanted to turn our tiny little old dog house that's never been use but sits out there into one) but I want them to be happy and produce a lot so we'd like big coop plans, not one for like 4 birds. Preferably it would be able to hold at least 8-15, just in case. We have 5 people in our family and I heard that 2 birds per member is a good rule of thumb, 3 if you really like eggs? So yeah, we need a lot of birds, plus want to be able to sell or give to neighbors potentially. Haha most of us are away though but still. I'm taking this semester off, brother graduated and is looking at grad schools, and other brother is going away this fall, but we still need lots of eggs so need a coop big enough to hold lots of chickens. I can do a property tour, either with pictures or video, if needed too, to show potential coop sites and where they'd be and whatnot. And we've used pesticides and fertilizer and all that in the past but as long as we haven't used it recently, are we good? I'm sorry I have so many questions, I keep thinking of more. Hahaha this post is long enough though so I'm stopping here, so so sorry. And thank you for reading all this, if you did, and in advance for any help recieved, it's much appreciated.