Currently my 5 hens have a good size coop and a small-ish run that is totally dirt at this point. DH converted a shed and built the run a couple years ago for my valentine's day gift (we're weird, I know) so I didn't have much say in it. The more I research on here, the more I want something else for them. I am getting 5 more hens so I know I will need more run space for them. Currently they are in our old house's backyard (just next door), but I want to get them closer. It would make feeding and watering much easier, plus I would just like to be able to enjoy them more throughout the day. We do have neighbor dogs, but the ones that roam have been taken care of by other neighbors who I guess got tired of them (one killed my DH's grandparents cat, then came over chasing ours and attacked our Suburban in the process b/c the cat went in the engine area). The only things I have seen lately is another family member's goats so I don't think they will mess with them. We built a hoop house for a run area, but what DH built to use for a coop is smaller than what I had in mind so I was just thinking about putting it inside the hoop house and making that the "coop" essentially and letting them free range for most of the afternoon. I already bought a BB/pellet gun to have on hand just in case I need it . Aside from potential predators, my other biggest concern is the poop. We have 3 young children (3, 2, 13 weeks) and so I don't want the whole yard or their toys covered in poop. Is there any way to prevent that, or is that pretty much a given for free ranging? I really don't want to invest in a big fenced in area b/c part of our reason for wanting them to free range is for bug control (lots of ticks and ants/fire ants). I got the 5 extra hens this year so that I could let them roam a bit more without having to worry as much about losing one or two if something were to make it into our yard. I plan on adding a few more each year, too. I guess I am just rambling as I "talk" it out... any tips or pointers would be appreciated!