Thank you, chicken lovers, for sharing your chicken knowledge! I'm now in my second year of raising chickens and I have spent so much time on this website so I figured I should finally join. My original 8 chicks from last spring: 2 pearl leghorn, 2 buff orpington, 2 barred rock, and 2 rhode island red. I added, from a kind stranger/neighbor down the road, a young polish bantam rooster and his good friend a young bantam pullet. Of these, I lost a leghorn and both barred rocks to predators. This year I purchased 28 chicks. Bless my husband, he didn't say a word. 8 were Cornish Cross; I won't do those again. 4 Brown leghorn (lost one) 4 Araucana (because I promised one of my kids blue/green eggs when he was distraught over the loss of chickens) 4 black Jersey Giants, straight run (hoping for at least one roo) 2 Australorp 2 Brahma (lost one) 2 silver Wyandotte 2 black sex-link A few days after I purchased this group, my bantam began setting on an egg. So I slipped her two more eggs, and this April she hatched three--all have beautiful crests (mohawks?); the bantam's chick is black, another is coppery and black, and another brown and black; I think I got one each of the RIR and BO, but the color and pattern is so much like the rooster, I'm not sure whose genes were expressed. We butchered our cornish cross and the pearl leghorn, because she was a wily creature that laid most of her eggs where I couldn't get them; I can't afford freeloaders. My bantam is back on the nest and I hoping for somewhere in the neighborhood of 5 chicks. I'm a bit more of "let nature take it's course" in my chicken raising and I have been trying not to "interfere" too much, so eggs keep flying into the nest. lol Between the other chickens and my young kids, we'll see how it goes. But I LOVE my bantam and am so grateful to the people who gave her to us! So my flock currently stands at 4+2+18+3 (how I count them every night) = 27. I free range and am working on figuring out the best feed for what I want (organic, cracked corn, etc.?). I converted a big old shed for the coop and, except for moving the shed, have done all the work with my kids and my mom (can you tell I'm a mite proud?). Did I mention I have kids, and they eat like crazy, which is why I got into chicken keeping? And then I fell in love with keeping chickens. They are rather fascinating creatures. Confession: Last winter I could have sworn I counted them all in the coop, but when I went to open the door, one poor BO came shivering up and jumped in. The temps were in the low teens, but fortunately there was a dry sheltered area right next to the coop where she must have spent the night. Didn't seem the worse for wear, thank goodness! Well, that's about it for me. I appreciate everyone sharing their experiences; it's been very helpful. I look forward to visiting with you more!