Looking to build a new chicken coop? Well, you've come to the right place!
In my last article, I talked about some of the factors that go into determining the SIZE of your chicken coop. Today, we'll be talking about:
My first chicken coop, located near the house (but not TOO close).
To use an old cliche, LOCATION is everything!
I mean, you can't just go plopping your chicken coop down all willy-nilly. (Unless, of course, you've got a small, portable chicken coop or "chicken tractor," in which case, feel free to plop it down as willy-nilly-ly
If you're planning on a bigger, bulkier, less-mobile coop, however, there are actually quite a few things you ought to consider before selecting a permanent location.
For starters, let's talk about your environment.
Are there strong, prevailing winds where you live? If so, you might consider building your chicken coop behind a wind break of some kind. It could be a fence, a hedge, a bush, whatever. What about sunshine? Your chickens will love it in the winter, but they'll do anything in their power to avoid it in the summer. Some kind of seasonal shade is the optimal solution. Does your property offer anything like that? Is your property prone to flooding? (We know all about flooding...) If so, you'll probably want to build the coop on the highest ground available, or build a raised coop.
It's also important to consider the distance from your house to the coop.
You'll be walking out to the coop at least once or twice a day (feeding and watering the chickens, checking for eggs, etc.), so you might be tempted to build your coop right next to the back door just to make chore time a little easier on yourself.
That might work well for some folks, but at the same time you probably don't want it too close to the house, because, well ... How do I put this delicately?
Chickens poop. Not an inordinate amount, mind you. And, assuming you keep things cleaned out properly, it really doesn't raise too much of a stink. But still, I'm not too keen on the idea of eau-de-chicken wafting into my open windows on a peaceful summer's evening.
You might also find that your chickens can get a bit noisy. Even if you don't own a rooster, you should be aware that your hens will make noise (at least a little). So if you're not the type of person who likes waking up at the crack of dawn to the peaceful, relaxing "AHHH-I-JUST-LAID-A-REALLY-BIG-EGG-AND-I-WANT-TO-TELL-THE-WHOLE-WORLD-ABOUT-IT!" squawk, you'll probably want to keep some distance between the coop and your bedrooms.
And let's not forget about rodents. Mice (and other opportunistic pests) are often attracted to the chicken coop for a variety of reasons. Fortunately for us, we have a bunch of half-wild farm cats running around the place, so we've never really had an issue with it. (And even if it weren't for all those cats, our chickens have been known to catch and eat mice from time to time, too, so I think we're covered either way!)
At the end of the day, there are a lot of different things to consider when placing your chicken coop. I wish I had a magic bullet for you, some kind of golden rule that would be perfect for everyone. But unfortunately, as with most decisions in life, you just have to weigh the pros and cons, make a choice, and live with it.
At the very least, I hope that this article has given you some food for thought.
I know one thing for certain though — I've never regretted the decision to raise chickens!
About the Author: Nathan and his family work and play and live on a 1.17 acre microfarm (a.k.a. "The One Acre Lott"), in a frigid Rocky Mountain valley, at the end of a long dirt road. He has been raising chickens for years, grows nearly all of his family's meat and produce, and loves every minute of it! For more of his exciting adventures, check out his personal website, www.oneacrelott.com.