Poultry Coops can fit into just about any size backyard. For 4 hens, a 3’x4′ Coop plus a “run” (a place for them to scratch around) that is roughly 3’x8′ is more than adequate. Most commercial birds are placed in cages (6-8 to a cage) where they can not turn around. You, on the other hand, will have very happy birds. “Chicken Tractors” are another option. They are portable coops that can be moved over the yard or garden plots, to give birds fresh bugs and greens–this also is a great way to mow the lawn!
They will eat just about anything! There are commercial poultry foods available at local feed stores, or you can make your own mix. People feed chickens corn, oats, wheat, rye, soy, fresh greens from the garden (weeds as well), table scraps (they love spaghetti!), worms and other bugs. Variety is the key to good health, just like us!
It is food that attracts rodents, not the birds. If you have wild bird feeders in your back yard, you run the same risk. Keep all feed in metal garbage cans, with secure lids. Feed birds in small doses, so as not to have a large amount of food left over. If you feed your birds scraps/ protein, make sure it is eaten and not left in the bedding.
They can live quite happily, through the coldest winter, if they have an insulated coop or a light inside their coop. The smaller the coop, the easier it is for them to keep it warm. Birds can get frostbite. Birds with large combs tend to be more susceptible. Also, some breeds are just hardier than others.
The key to safe chickens is a sturdy, impenetrable coop. Raccoons should be more of a concern, they are such clever, determined critters. .Make sure the structure is secure (enclosed top, fencing buried below ground under the sides, secure latches on doors or other entryways), keep all birds locked in at night, letting them out into the run or “tractor” only during the day. Cats have always been interested in birds, but with a healthy respect for chickens–Dogs will chase the birds, if they are left to roam. If you let your birds out, please keep them under supervision at all times.