We've had four batches of chickens over the past eight or so years, each time starting with about twenty: The first two batches were raised for meat, and we kept them for only for about five months. The second two batches have been for eggs, a mix of varieties, and kept longer, so I'm getting more involved now, including watching their behavior. We have fifteen birds now, including one rooster and five hens that are all offspring of a Partridge Cochin rooster and hens we don't know the exact variety of (but offspring have alot of orange in them...we were given the fertilized eggs). The one rooster and five hens hatched from those August '08. The other nine, older, hens were purchased May '06, from a commercial hatchery. They include 4 Buff Orpingtons, 2 Barred Rocks, 2 Ameraucanas, and 1 Black Langshan. One of the four Buff Orpingtons went broody last summer and she hatched the six younger birds this past August. Our chickens were all one big happy blended family over Fall and Winter...but we have a crisis now, which has spurred my joining the Forum (my next post will be that story: "Family Crisis: Young rooster attacking hen that hatched him") I've been consulting the BYC forum periodically over the years, as a "guest," and found it very helpful, including around care of birds over the winter. My husband, dog, chickens, and I are based in Downeast Maine.