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Choosing the Best Location for your Backyard Chicken Coop

Choosing the best location for a chicken coop is one of the most important decisions in getting started with a backyard flock.

Brown chicken coop with green shutters and flowers

Chickens need a secure home to sleep in and lay their eggs in.  Called a chicken coop or hen house, it can be built from scratch,  assembled from a kit, purchased turnkey or repurposed from a shed or playhouse.  But regardless, the chicken coop location is of utmost importance.  

The ultimate position of the coop is critical for your chickens' health, happiness and, of course, safety. 

As such, there are several considerations to take into account when determining the placement of your chicken coop. 

And the position for your coop will be very unique to your property, although there are a few universal guidelines to follow that might help you narrow down several possible locations.

Because we live in Maine, we very consciously positioned our coop in full sun, facing south, with a dense stand of trees to the north. This ensures that the coop gets the most sun it can during the long, cold winter months and is blocked from cold blasts of wind from the north. 

Chicken coop in the snow

I chose a walk-in coop style that had nesting boxes inside instead of jutting out from an exterior wall. The nest boxes are on the southern facing wall, again, to ensure they get the most warmth from the sun to prevent frozen eggs.

Our run is situated to the east of the coop. That means it gets the first sun of the day and starts to warm up early in the morning as soon as the sun rises. It is also sloped a bit so it drains and there's no standing water after a rainstorm.

Other things to keep in mind when you're choosing a location  for your chicken coop include:

  • Distance from the house
  • Distance from feed and supply storage (if you don't have room inside your coop)
  • Location of your water source
  • Ability to drive up to the coop to delivery feed/straw etc.

Choosing the Best Location for your Backyard Chicken Coop

Here are some steps to take that can help you choose the best location for your coop before you even order a coop or you start looking for plans or building your own coop.

Chicken coop roof under construction

Check Variances and Regulations

The first thing you need to do is check your local regulations concerning building or buying a chicken coop. Things such as the minimum distance from both your house and neighboring dwellings and the required distance from your property line are important to know before you go any further.

Some areas don't specify anything as far as coop placement goes, but it's still important to consider your neighbors. 

Backyard Chicken  Coop Concerns

The main concerns when it comes to a chicken coop are:

  • odor/manure
  • flies 
  • noise

You don't want to be bothered by any of these, and neither do your neighbors. 

So be considerate and make sure that where you decide to put your chicken coop isn't going to result in the heady scent of chicken manure wafting across the lawn and towards your neighbors home.

Chicken on bicycle in front of chicken coop

Too Close for Comfort

Although a well-maintained coop and healthy chickens shouldn't smell, there still is a certain odor attached to any type of livestock that all neighbors might not appreciate.  

And remember that chickens poop on EVERYTHING, and the closer to your house the coop is located, the greater chance your chickens will venture onto your porch, deck, vehicles, etc. and hosing or scraping chicken poop off your deck chairs and every other flat surface will become a full-time job!

And even with the best intentions, there are certain times of the year when flies will become a bit of a problem, so keep that in mind as well. Chicken feed and droppings naturally attracted insects and also rodents, so positioning your coop too close to another dwelling is just asking for trouble.

Lastly is the noise factor. Although many localities don't allow roosters, even a flock of all hens can make quite the racket when they're laying their eggs. So keep that in mind as well. Having a fence, hedge or even several trees between your coop and your neighbor's house to lessen the noise will be greatly appreciated. 

Of course the size of your property might ultimately limit how far away from everything your coop can be located. 

Basket of eggs in the grass

Keep your Feathered Friends Close 

While there are lots of reasons to position your chicken coop as far away from your house as possible, there are also some good reasons to pick a location that's a bit closer and more convenient.

Since you're likely going to find yourself making multiple trips back and forth from your house to your chicken coop with water buckets, to collect eggs, or just to check on your chickens, locating your coop fairly close to your house isn't a bad idea. 

You'll really appreciate the convenience on cold or wet days! 

If you're going to run a water and/or electric line to the coop from the house, think about the added cost of running longer lines the further away your coop is located. 

And if you don't plan to have running water at the coop, then think about hauling buckets of water from the house or connecting a hose (or a few hoses) to do periodic coop cleaning.

Another good reason to choose a location not too far from your house is for safety. If they are closer, you can more easily keep an eye on them. You'll be able to hear if a predator spooks them, and get to them faster if something tries to get into the coop at night.

Chicken coop at night

And if you plan on letting your chickens free range, the closer the coop is to the house, the more likely they'll also stick closer to the house while they're roaming.

Lastly, think about where you usually sit in the house and look out the window, or if you sit on the porch, which direction does that face. You'll be depriving yourself hours of year-round entertainment if you can't see your coop (and chickens) from that window.

But also consider, if you have a rooster especially, you might not want to put your coop right under your bedroom window. Roosters don't only crow at sunrise, although they certainly ramp up their efforts as the sun rises and sunrise in the summer can be as early at 5am in the summer in northern climates.

Bottom Line: Position your coop close enough to the house for easy cleaning, egg collection and daily chores, but far enough to keep flies, rodents and odors from your home. 

Chicken coop and run

Take the High Ground

Optimally, you want to position your chicken coop on level,  high ground, with the run slightly sloped down away from the coop, if possible, to allow water run off, and to prevent flooding and resulting minimal mud. Low spots in your yard will tend to get muddy, foggy and get covered in more frost in the winter.

Certain parasites such as coccidiosis thrive in damp or wet conditions, so keeping the coop and run as dry as possible is important.

But on the flip side, higher areas will tend to be more windy. A bit of wind is good if you get hot summers and also helps to keep the fly population down, so although chickens don't particularly appreciate wind, a soft breeze is a good thing.

Chicken coop with landscaping

Throw A Little Shade - on your Chicken Run

It's going to be perfect if your run has natural sunny and shady areas. Use existing trees and other plants on your property, if possible, to accomplish that. Trees and shrubs are helpful in providing shade, a little breeze, and some protection from the elements (rain, snow, etc.) 

As an added bonus, insects that the chickens will love to eat tend to congregate in the ground around the base of trees and shrubs. 

Chicken coop behind apple blossoms

Be sure to do a little research about the trees, shrubs and other landscaping you have in your yard first though. Some plants can be toxic to chickens like azalea, rhododendron and oleander, while things like grape vines or fruit trees can provide not only shade and a windbreak but also a tasty snack.

And remember that trees can come down in storms and not only destroy your coop and run, but possibly injure your chickens as well. 

And if the storm happens at night and you don't hear it, the damage might allow a predator to gain access to the coop and your chickens before you wake up and are able to repair the damage. 

So be careful not to locate your coop under old, damaged or diseased trees.

Chicken coop with flowers in the windowboxes

Hot Climates

Chickens have more trouble keeping cool in hot climates than they do keeping warm in the cold. So unless you live in extremely cold climate, locating your chicken coop under a tree in the shade  is your best bet.  

Deciduous trees that lose their leaves in the winter work well in any climate. The leaves provide shade in summer, then drop to allow a bit of sunlight to warm the chicken coop through the winter. But evergreens will work too.

Think about where the sun rises on your property and position your coop for maximum shade at midday/afternoon when its the hottest. Watch the movement of the sun over the course of a few days to learn the patterns.

Foolishly, when we got our first chickens back in 2009 when we lived in Virginia, I built the coop and positioned it in front of our barn in full sun. It lasted in the full sun about a month into that first summer before we moved it into the shade under some trees, around the side of the barn. 

Fortunately it was small enough to move fairly easily. But I learned my lesson quickly. A chicken coop will heat up very fast if it sits baking in the sun all day.

Chicken coop in the snow

Cold Climates

Conversely, if you live in a cold climate, you are probably going to want to locate your chicken coop in full sun since keeping your chickens warm will be your main concern.  

Watch the movement of the sun and position the coop so the front windows (or largest windows) are facing south to get maximum benefit of the sunlight for as much of the day in the winter to warm up the coop.

Heating a chicken coop with a heat lamp or another type of heater is a potential fire hazard and largely unnecessary. Far better to use whatever sunlight you can.

If possible, set your coop tucked in front of a row of trees, a hedge, another building or some fencing to the north to block the cold winter winds. 

If you live in an especially windy area, having a good windbreak to the north will go a long way to ensure the comfort of your chickens as well.

Chickens in front of coop

All Climates

Regardless of where you live, aligning your chicken coop so the vents under the eaves run east-west will provide maximum air flow up high. Ventilation is important year round in a chicken coop, but the coop shouldn't be drafty, so vents above the heads of your chickens when they sleep provides the best ventilation.

There likely is no one "perfect" spot to locate your chicken coop, but some areas of your property are likely more desirable for a chicken coop than others. And each situation is different, so do some thinking about your climate and weather after researching the regulations where you live. 

Spend some time observing the position of the sun, and watch the puddling and mud at various times of the year before you commit to a permanent location for your chicken coop to be sure you're choosing the best location for your backyard chicken coop.

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