Finding a great place for your chicken coop takes some work but for the most part, it is not as hard as you would think. Yes, choosing and building a house for your chicken is the key to their happiness, safety, and health but with a little guidance, you will be enjoying your new chickens in no time. So where should I put a chicken coop in my backyard?
Chicken coop in your backyard could be placed basically anywhere your heart desires. Chicken is a simple animal and lives in many locations with the bare minimum. You of course need space and level ground for the ideal spot. Shade is a plus, but many people do not have a big shade tree in their backyard. If there’s no shade, chickens need a decent size coop for better air circulation.
Essential Requirements for Chickens When Building a Coop
- Sunlight – Chickens not only need shade but also sunlight, like every living thing a little sun is good for chickens. They enjoy basking in the sun, but also the comfort of the shade from their coop. They enjoy well over ten hours of sun a day.
- Solid Ground – If your area is known to have predators such as foxes you need to build you coop on a solid well-made surface to help deter predators from burrowing into the coop. Some people have placed their coops on concrete, but wood is more ideal.
- A dust patch for a nice bath – Your feathered friends will enjoy a dust patch to bathe themselves, especially if they roam in fields for part of the day. They can clean themselves in a dust bath to help get rid of any unwanted parasites.
- Chicken Run – If you are like many and do not have a lot of land to let the chickens roam, a chicken run will be perfect for you. A chicken run is a long rectangle-shaped area right off the coop where your chickens can stretch their legs. It does not need to be huge, just enough for them to get out of the stuffy coop and get some air.
- Shade – Place the coop under a tree if you can. This is beneficial in many ways. Not only will your chickens get a good amount of shade the tree will also benefit. The birds will fertilize the soil for the tree. Chicken manure contains potassium, phosphorus, and nitrogen that enhance the fertility of the soil and plants.
- Heating and Lighting – Some places with colder climates will need to have heat in their coops and to help their drinking water not to freeze. Heat lamps or flat panel heaters which are not hot to the touch are both great ideas. Chickens need roughly 16 hours of daylight to lay eggs, so in some cases, artificial light will be needed.
How Big Should Your Coop Be?
A good rule of thumb is each chicken needs roughly four-square feet of space not including the chicken run which requires an additional four-square feet of space per chicken. The size of your coop will depend on the amount of chickens you would like to get.
You can start small and add onto your coop as your flock starts to grow, but it is best to go bigger than what you need first so there’s no need to alter your coop down the road.
The more space your chickens have the happier and healthier they will be. The four-square foot is ideal, but a bigger coop is never a bad idea, it will give you plenty of room to grow.
It may be called a coop, but the chickens definitely do not want to be cooped up together. Being crammed up together can cause behavioral problems. Chickens have known to become aggressive and constantly pecking each other.
If your chickens must stay in the coop for most of the year (mainly during winter) then aim to give them five to eight square feet per chicken instead. Space solely depends on the size and amount of chickens you have.
Check City Guidelines for Having Chickens
It is also very smart to check with the city you live in. Many towns/cities have guidelines for having chickens. Some will not allow them, and some places have limits on the amount or kind you can keep.
Not following those guidelines can have all your money and hard work go down the drain if you are made to remove the coop and chickens from the property.
Chicken Coop Essentials
- Nesting boxes – All coops need nesting boxes for them to lay their eggs. There should be one box per two to three hens and each box needs to be at least 12” x 12”. Make sure you have space to get into to the eggs comfortably to collect them. Some people put small doors on the back of where the chicken’s roost to be able to reach in and grab the egg without disrupting the chickens.
- Perches – Chickens also need a roosting area for them to sleep comfortably. Roosts and perches can be as simple as a bar, branch, or planks for them to all have a comfortable night’s rest. You can also stagger them having chickens sleeping above or below each other. Each bird should be six to ten inches in length and about two feet off the ground.
- Ventilation – This is one of the most important steps that may seem quite simple but must not be overlooked. Proper ventilation prevents harmful gasses from the chicken’s feces from causing respiration issues. Chickens also need fresh air; proper ventilation will keep a nice cool breeze blowing through on a hot day.
Should you build, buy, or reuse?
If you have a shed or a doghouse at home, you can repurpose it into a coop. If you do not have a large budget repurposing old items that are laying around. It is a simple enough DIY project that even beginners have completed. Check out these free plans for a DIY chicken coop.
If you are not able or not up to the task to build a coop by yourself. You can search online for available coop structures, that are small and can be brought to your place. There are do it yourself kits to take all the guess work out or even prebuilt coops you can get delivered. All you need is to add a few ventilation holes or windows, a fresh coating of paint, install the required number of roosts, nest boxes and you are good to go.
Should You Build A Stationary or A Less Permanent Coop?
Whether you want to go for a stationary coop or one that can be moved when needed will solely depend on whether your birds will stay full-time in the coop. If you are building a large elaborate coop with a run it is best to make it permanent. If you own a decent amount of land and let your chickens roam free most of the day, then there is no issue having a coop that can move around as needed.
Chicken coops come in all shapes and sizes. From dirt floors to nice wooden boards, wood roofs to metal roofs. The cost can be fit easily into your budget. Trying to find scrap wood and fencing for free or cheap will also help with the cost.
Placing Chicken Coop Away from the House
You should keep the coop a decent distance from your house. Coops can smell especially in the summer, or on rainy days, chicken feces on a hot summer day is not a combo you want coming into your windows. The noise for the most part is not an issue unless you have a rooster which you and your neighbors will hear. Also, it’s important to note quite a few towns will not allow roosters for that reason alone.
Another reason to not have the coop too close to your house is tracking chicken feces into your house can be harmful to you especially if you have young children. Chicken feces can carry diseases just like animal feces.
Double check with your town if they have any regulations on how close the coop can be to your house and your neighbor’s houses, clean up after your chickens and be courteous to your neighbors.
No matter what you decide on five chickens or one hundred, wood roof or metal roof, dirt floor or wood floor, chicken run or roaming free, remember chickens will give you eggs and live a great healthy life as long as they are treated right and given all of their needs. It may all seem overwhelming but raising chickens is a fun and fulfilling job. Following these simple steps will have you eating fresh eggs in no time.