As back yard chickens become more and more popular, there people searching for the "best" or more ingenious method of jumping in to this new hobby. I can't say that our way is the best or the most ingenious, but we have twelve seemingly thriving happy chickens. Below is simply the way that we have gone about it and I'm sure there are other effective options available to those that are willing to research the topic.
June 2014: Well, unfortunately a dog killed half the flock (6 chickens) about a month ago. There was clear evidence how it occurred and we have sense resorted to only allowing them to roam when we are home. The truly sad thing is that the dog killed all of the ones that my wife had worked with the most, aka, her favorites. She was devastated but we have not lost any since that fateful weekend and everything seems to be going well now.
July 2014: Eggs!!! At last.We have now had three eggs laid and it looks like our little factory is finally up and running. The others will start laying in the near future and we will have eggs galore! It took 20 weeks to finally get eggs out of the chicks but we have learned a lot along the way. For any future chickens, we would NOT introduce them to our dogs. It seems that the introduction, although good training for the dogs, served to desensitize the chicks to the threat a canine can pose. I think that for free roaming chicks, the best defense is to not make "friends" and to leave the instinctive fears they have intact.
Six chickens seems to be about the perfect number for us. This is an easy to manage flock and still has a respectable number of egg layers. In addition, the coup that was a bit small for twelve is plenty of room for six and more than enough space to roam while still being small enough to heat in the winter time.
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