Before you purchase or build your chicken coop it is important that you work out where exactly it is best positioned. Before you do anything however you must check that the deeds to your property or lease allow you to keep chickens. In addition many cities and counties have strict rules and ban the keeping of chickens in some instances, so always check first before buying anything.
Choosing the right location and position of the coop is essential to the well-being of your chickens and also for the practicalities of everyday access for cleaning and maintenance. Some of the most important points you will need to consider when locating your chicken coop are:
Sunlight and shade Prevailing winds Shelter from cold draughts and wind in icy weather Ease of access for cleaning and collecting of eggs Exposure to natural sunlight is essential for the well-being of your flock as it provides a natural source of vitamin D3 in chickens. This particular vitamin is essential for, among other things, healthy bones and the regulation of calcium levels in the chicken's body. Calcium in turn, is essential in maintaining healthy egg production and for the prevention of egg binding in egg laying chickens. Vitamin D3 is formed naturally in the skin when it is exposed to sunlight.
Chickens therefore need the maximum amount of daylight you can provide for them, so ideally you don't want to put your coop in deep shade under a tree. Your hens will require 12 hours of daylight and as much sunshine as you can find, as they will lay better when provided with good light.
In addition, placing your hen house where it gets a bit of direct sunlight helps it dry out after rain. Take time to watch the movement of the sun across your garden during the day and note the best areas for maximum sunshine. You should also know that egg production will drop off as the number of daylight hours decreases in the winter.
By taking note of the path of the sun across your garden throughout the day you can figure out when and where the sun shines brightest and position your chicken coop to make the most of the available light. Remember though, that while chickens need sunlight, they also need an area of shade to keep cool on hot summer days so your chicken coop design should always incorporate a shaded area the chickens can retreat to when they need to keep cool. This is of utmost importance in the summer time and if you live in a warm climate.
Wind is also an important factor in your chicken's well-being as exposure to draughts can often have fatal consequences. Even a relatively mild breeze can cause a dramatic drop in temperature even during summer months and an unwanted draught is often the cause of premature death in otherwise healthy chickens. Chickens are at risk particularly at night when going to roost if the roosting quarters are not adequately draught proofed.
Depending on your particular location you will find there is a prevailing wind direction in your area and by giving this a little thought and by correctly positioning your chicken coop you can minimise the risk of any adverse effect the cold wind may have on your chickens.
If you plan on keeping chickens in a city garden or other small garden setting then you would do well to position the Chicken Coop where it forms an interesting and attractive addition to the garden. You will probably be able to see your chicken coop through the window no matter where you position it in the garden, so it makes sense to choose an attractive chicken coop design and position it so that you can see what is going on. This has the added advantage of allowing you to keep a better watch out for predators and pests which can still be a problem even in an urban setting.
Apart from considering the welfare of your chickens you should also spare a thought for the practical side of maintaining your Chicken Coop on a regular basis. Remember, you will need to visit your chickens at least once a day, every day of the year, so positioning the chicken coop in an area that allows easy access in all types of weather will make the task of cleaning and egg collecting and the care of your chickens in general a lot less stressful and will result in a more pleasant experience for both you and your chickens. In general, before you begin building a chicken coop you should take a little time for a couple of weeks beforehand to observe the general area you plan to keep your chickens in. Take note of the wind direction, exposed areas, the path of the sun and the areas in the garden which don't have too much activity and will be the least stressful for the chickens.
Chickens are natural foragers, always on the lookout for tasty shoots, grubs or worms to eat. By providing them with well-drained areas, your hens will be active and much healthier for it. In addition, hens will take a regular dust bath to rid their feathers of parasites and insects, have a good preen and then lie quite still in the sunshine afterwards. Hens can get as much as 25% of their protein needs from fresh grass and insects and are highly effective at clearing ground of weeds, pests and unwanted insects.
The practical upshot of this activity means that after a time, your hens will have exhausted their patch of ground, and you should ideally move their run to another location with fresh grass, while the old patch recovers. The down side is that if you are planning to have free range chickens, the nearest tasty shoots for your chickens will be your prize vegetables or flowers, so make sure you fence off any areas you don't wish to become a chicken fast food area.