First of all - this is an awesome forum. I'm learning lots, most of all, that I won't learn everything before I start to make my own mistakes, but I want to minimize them as much as possible. I've got 5 acres, and seemingly billions of ticks. Every time a cats comes it, it's time for the screening. After any time in the fields, even after riding the tractor and mowing, full body check. The population has really exploded over the past five years. The way the development is in our area, we're one of the last patches of rural between 2 cities adjacent to a mountain, so all the wildlife naturally funnels to us. And so do the parasites. I heard that guineas are great at eating ticks, but also that chickens will do just fine as well in that occupation. So chickens it is! Usually I'm a hyper-planner, but in this case the ticks are crawling everywhere and I need chicken SOS right away. I'm hoping to build the coop over the next two weekends and get me some birds. Without free-ranging, I won't get the tick control I need. The stuff I'm reading about free ranging is for production, and I'm not too concerned about eggs with my first group of helpers. Hoping to glean some guidance in a few areas. Wondering how many hens I should get - I mean some sort of range. Should it be 6-10? Will I need more? Do I need to start with babies to get them happy with coming back to the coop? Any breed seem better suited for my purpose? I have no fences - with all this delicious tickiness here, and the great coop they will have, can I reasonably expect them to come home? Should I get an electrified poultry fence and move it around the ranch as needed? I read about these on BYC http://www.premier1supplies.com/detail.php?prod_id=44094&cat_id=53 Making a tractor doesn't seem practical since I have so much area to have them forage in. I have so many questions, and I'm so anxious to get a move on before summer heat brings even more ticks to me. Thanks for any help or guidance in my quest.