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Q: What is the best location for my chicken coop?

A:

There are many considerations to take into account when determining the placement of your chicken coop. Here are 10 tips that can help you find just the right spot:

  1. Laziness is a good thing.

    If your coop is a mile away from your house (of if it just feels that far), it will be easy to lose interest in caring for your birds on a daily basis. There's no need to make chores more difficult! Position your coop close enough to the house for easy egg collection and daily care tasks, but far enough to keep any smells or flies away from the home. Also, to make chores easier, locate your coop close to your feed storage, water source, and electrical source if you are going to be using an automatic door, safe heating products, or additional lighting in winter.
  2. Enlist the help of a good tree.

    Locating your coop under and to the east of a deciduous tree provides cooling shade during the hot afternoons of summer, but allows warm sunshine to stream in from the south in winter. Some trees might not be suited for use around chickens, however. To find out more about that, click here.

  3. Elist the help of a good tree.
    A large tree provides much-needed shade for this flock.

  4. Remember windows can warm in winter.

    In the northern hemisphere, as the earth tilts toward the north in winter, the sun tracks lower across the sky on the southern horizon. Placing your coop's windows in the south-facing position will allow more solar heating during those cold winter days.
  5. Wind can be your friend (or not!).

    In most places in the United States, the prevailing winds are generally west-to-east. Orienting your coop's vents or windows along the east-west plane may allow for more cooling airflow in summer. This may also block winter winds from the north from flowing freely into your coop. Your yard's specific prevailing winds may be different, depending on the topography and elevation of your home, so be careful to determine the prevailing wind flow for your particular yard. You can find more information about how to have a well-ventilated but draft-free coop here.
  6. Don't miss the show!

    Provide yourself with endless hours of entertainment by positioning your coop within clear sight lines of your favorite window. This will also keep your birds from being "out of sight, out of mind." Just imagine sitting by the window, sipping coffee on a beautiful morning, watching your chickens peck around - so relaxing! Now imagine a wall between you and your birds - ugh.

  7. Don't miss the show
    Enjoying the chickens from the front porch.

  8. Microclimates make your yard unique.

    A low spot in your yard will likely be colder and more prone to frost, fog, and muddiness; a higher spot may be windier but get more sun. Evergreen trees may provide too much winter shade; but a stand of trees in the right place may be the perfect wind break. A south-facing slope will warm more quickly in winter; a north-facing slope will be cooler in summer. Examining your yard in such granular detail allows you to see it's unique characteristics. Your flock will thank you for being so thoughtful!
  9. Plants can help you plan.

    Once upon a time, my coop and run area was located under a mulberry tree in my yard. This was perfect in the late spring - the fruit dropped from the tree into the run and provided my flock with free food! If you have a fruiting tree or vine in your yard, consider placing your coop and run area near or under it. Likewise, if you have any plants in your yard that are poisonous to chickens, you will want to distance your coop from that area or remove the plant entirely. You can learn about which plants may be harmful to your flock here.
  10. Consider going mobile.

    Chicken tractors are moveable chicken coops that allow you to place your coop in shaded areas in summer and sunny areas in winter. Also, as you move the tractor every few days, your flock gains access to new areas of fresh vegetation, bugs, and worms to give them a more balanced diet. You might even save some money on feed costs! You can see our chicken tractors here.

  11. Homemade Chicken Tractor
    This homemade chicken tractor can be placed anywhere in the yard.
  12. Remember the regulations!

    Some homeowners associations or local ordinances require a chicken coop to be placed a certain distance from the property line or to be a particular size. Permits may also be needed in order to build or install a chicken coop in your area. Check with your local city hall or county government to make sure you are in compliance with their livestock ordinances.
  13. Prepare for possible predators.

    Positioning your coop close to wild areas may be more enticing for predators. If possible, put the coop in an area that predators have to think twice about accessing or have to work harder to get to. You can use lighting or physical barriers to make it less enticing for curious predators. You might consider one of these products as well.

The good news is, chickens are resilient, adaptable creatures that can survive in less-than-optimuim conditions, so don't give up if you can't seem to find the "perfect" spot in your yard. With that in mind, if you take these tips into account, you'll likely find a really good location for your coop - a spot that fits your flock AND your yard well, and allows you to provide the best care for your birds all year long.