From finding a chicken coop plan, to selecting suitable materials, to choosing a prime location for your coop, there are a lot of factors to consider when setting up your first chicken coop. Of course, where to place your coop is one of the critical decisions in getting started. Choosing the best location for a backyard chicken coop helps ensure your flock’s health, happiness, and safety.
While you may have a location in mind, there are several considerations to take into account when determining the placement of your chicken coop. This post will cover the best way to pick a chicken coop location, focusing on each factor that goes into this important step.
Where to put your chicken coop on your property?
Choosing the ultimate position for your chicken coop is a big decision. Here are factors to consider when setting up your chicken coop and tips for selecting an ideal coop location:
1. Distance from your house
Yard planning can be challenging! And there are usually three main concerns regarding how far a backyard chicken coop should be from your house: noise, odor, and flies.
You want to avoid being bothered by any of these annoyances, and that includes your neighbors too. That’s why it is imperative to be considerate when choosing the location of a chicken coop.
Depending on where you live, there might be regulations regarding how far a chicken coop should be from your house and neighboring dwellings. Some regions have stringent rules regarding how far a chicken coop can be from property lines. You may also need a permit to build or install a coop on your property. Such regulations are usually local, so consult with your HOA or local ordinances.
While space availability and personal preference play a role in chicken coop placement, local ordinances often require coops to be at least 30 feet from residences. This distance can vary wildly from state to state and town to town, but usually within 10 feet to 150 feet from the house. Because chickens can be a nuisance, the requirements also vary depending on whether the house in question is that of the chicken’s owner or neighbor.
If you’d like to place your coop closer than regulations permit, most towns allow you to apply for a variance. The variance application will require you to specify the exact location of the coop and its distance from property lines and other structures. It may also require permission from the nearest neighbor.
Whether there are local regulations regarding the location of coops, the idea is to place your chicken coop as far away from your house and your neighbor’s house as possible while ensuring it is still within easy reach for convenient care and feeding. Of course, with the chicken coop far from your home, you can quickly lose interest in caring for your birds as needed. Further, having the coop far means a long walk with feed, cleaning supplies, eggs, and anything else that might need to be taken to or from the coop.
When deciding how far your chicken coop will be, remember that you will need to visit your birds at least twice daily to let them in and out, feed them, and give them water. With the coop relatively close to your house, you can keep tabs on everything, ensuring your birds are safe and well cared for.
No matter how strong the urge is to set your chicken coop directly next to your house, resist it. Besides the unpleasant odor and noise, chickens attract insects you don’t want to welcome to your home. In most cases, about 30 feet away from the house is sufficient.
2. Lighting and electricity
Do you live in an area that’s prone to freezing temperatures? If yes, you will almost certainly need to use safe heating products and supplemental lighting in winter. You may also want to use an automatic chicken door.
If you need to run electricity from your house to the coop, consider placing the coop close to your home. That way, it will be cheaper and easier to run electricity to the coop.
3. Select level, high ground.
To ensure your chicken coop stands the test of time, set it on a solid, level foundation. Ideally, you should find a reasonably flat and sturdy area on your property. If you live in sloped terrain, you can create a spot for your coop by digging and leveling the ground.
Building it on high ground is also advisable, especially if your region gets torrential rain. Setting your chicken coop on a relatively high spot helps prevent flooding and other potential water damage. This is also important for chicken keepers in areas that experience freezing temperatures, as low-lying sites are more prone to getting muddy, foggy, and covered in more frost and ice.
The idea is to keep your birds dry and healthy. A solid foundation also does a great job of keeping predators at bay.
Notably, higher spots are windier, so avoid raising your chicken coop too high. While chickens love a soft breeze, they do not appreciate wind.
4. Create a windbreak
Chickens do not appreciate wind. Creating a good windbreak can go a long way to keeping your birds comfortable, especially if you live in an area with strong winds. A reliable windbreak also helps keep temperatures even in the winter months.
A good windbreak can also help reduce wear and tear to the coop, particularly by storms. The best barrier should protect your flock and the coop from prevailing winds and promote proper ventilation during summer.
You can create a windbreak from sheets of fabric, solid-board fencing, or closely spaced shrubs.
5. A great balance of sun and shade
Chickens need about 12 – 16 hours of daylight to remain productive. That said, the best location for your chicken coop and run should offer an outstanding balance of sun and shade. Various environments help ensure your birds have a perfect spot to live, depending on the season and weather.
With a bit of shade, your birds may develop heat stroke due to the scorching heat of the summer. On the other hand, too much shade can cause your girls to create unhealthy sleep patterns and fail to synthesize the hormones for egg production.
To effortlessly achieve the right balance of sun and shade, you can enlist the help of trees and other plants on your property. Deciduous trees will provide shade and shelter in the summer and shed their leaves in the fall, allowing your birds to get more sunshine and stay warm in the cold season. Moreover, the trees and shrubs’ bases attract many insects that chickens love to eat.
Often, placing your chicken coop facing south and near deciduous shade trees should offer a perfect blend of environments.
Remember that trees can break during storms, potentially destroying your coop and run and injuring your birds. For this reason, avoid placing your coops under old or deceased trees.
6. Allow enough foraging areas
Hens love foraging, and no matter how much you feed them, they will get out to explore and find a meal. The best location for a chicken coop should offer enough natural foraging areas to keep your birds entertained, exercising, and well-fed.
Thankfully, flourishing foraging areas is very easy in rural and suburban settings, where people are more likely to nurture birds.
While ensuring your chickens have access to enough foraging space, beware that they feed on virtually anything, including insects, weeds, grass, plants, and seeds. To keep them from ingesting life-threatening food, occasionally check the foraging areas and ensure they are free of toxic plants and litter. Some poisonous plants you don’t want on your chickens’ run and foraging areas include azaleas, bracken ferns, tulips, irises, and foxglove.
When it comes to foraging, providing your birds with enough space is very important. Giving your birds enough room to roam and forage can prevent them from developing aggressive behavior and fighting over resources. Confining can also make your feathered friends prone to diseases.
7. Beware of possible predators
Predators may want to turn your flock into dinner, no matter where you live or how sturdy you make your chicken coop. Foxes, dogs, raptors, and raccoons are some significant predators you want to keep away.
To minimize the chances of predators attacking your chickens, avoid placing your backyard chicken coop close to wild areas that appeal to predators. Shrubs, woodpiles, and low-hiding objects can harbor predators, snakes, and rodents. Hawks and owls can as well hide in overhanging branches unnoticed.
Setting your coop on a concrete slab can help deter curious predators that may want to attack your chicken by burrowing it under the enclosure.
8. Focus on accessibility
Keeping your feathered friends close makes it easy to keep an eye on them, ensuring their safety. Considering that you’re likely to be making multiple trips to and forth from your house to your chicken, having your coop reasonably close to your home makes daily chores much more manageable. You won’t have to haul supplies as far.
Whether it is food, water, or cleaning products, you will find it much easier to provide your birds with the care they need.
Final thoughts: The best location for a chicken coop
Where you set up your backyard chicken coop is vital to your success in nurturing birds. The best chicken coop location provides a healthy, happy, and safe environment for your birds. Ideally, you want to keep your feathered friends close but not directly near your house. If you are trying to select a chicken coop location around your home, this post will help you make the best choice.