A chicken coop only need to face a particular direction if you need to keep the weather out or make sure you need to provide shade or shelter for your flock. A coop is designed to protect your birds from extreme weather, sunshine and predators and it must be sturdy enough to survive the worst storms you experience and well attached to the ground.
Try putting an old sheet or tarpaulin out as a sort of a template where you want the coop or build a one quarter sized mock up out of cardboard boxes and move it around so you can see how it looks.
Should a chicken coop face a particular way?
Drafts are constant moving blasts of air that chickens are particularly susceptible to.
It is imperative in your coop design that you do your best to eliminate drafts while still keeping adequate ventilation and the orientation of you chicken house is the best way to reduce drafts.
As most locations have prevailing conditions you should position your chicken coop so as the prevailing winds do not blow in the pop-hole, door or windows. If you have a pitched coop roof it can help to deflect the wind upwards.
Below: Hen house orientation and placement should suit both you your weather conditions.
In warm conditions keep the sun off the coop and in the cold weather a south facing window will help warm the insides.
For example a southern facing coop with windows on the east and west sides and a big door or windows on the south side will help your coop to stay warmer. It will also protect your flock from cold winds from the north.
Avoid sites and coop orientations that will allow drafts. This and avoiding the prevailing weather are the biggest considerations. Don't make you life difficult by having doors that open into walls or parts of your setup that you can't get to.
Should chicken coops be raised up off the ground?
Yes, ideally they should be raised up. It helps deal with vermin by not allowing them places to hide and making their access more difficult.
Below: A raised coop in a nice setup.
A chicken coop should be six inches higher than your tallest chicken. This is an easy way of making sure that they have extra space. So have your hen house raised up at least 18 inches but 24 will be fine as well.
A raised coop can also provide shelter for the chickens and is actually quite a good place for a dust bath if it's dry.
Elevated coops allow for:
- Ventilation and air flow.
- Reduce vermin and prevent them nesting.
- Allow chickens to shelter.
- Prevent flooding.
- A raised coop will extend the life of the structure.
- Chickens prefer to roost high up so it will also allow for healthier living conditions for your animals.
- Its an excellent spot for a dust bath.
- It will always be free of snow and ice.
How far away from the house should a coop be?
There is no set distance for a chicken coop from your house except where there are local ordinances so take a look at yours before deciding. Most that I have seen make the minimum distance 10 feet.
The chief concerns about hen house placement are noise, odour, insects and vermin so wherever you decide it should take at least some of these into account.
Below: Avoid low lying and muddy spots for a chicken coop.
It is a matter of personal taste weighed up against convenience and ease of use. Do bear in mind that if you situate your coop near your boundary it may be close enough to a neighbour's house to cause disagreements.
A chicken coop should be situated in a part of the garden were there is good drainage and it is easily accessible. If you can't find a suitable spot you may have to do a little construction work.
Chicken coop placement is mostly a matter of personal choice. The only stipulation placement of chicken coop is the that it is on slightly higher and well drained ground.
Avoid places that get full unbroken sunshine from morning till night, chickens are not big fans of heat preferring the range between 40 degrees Fahrenheit and 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
A chicken coop near your house may well be easier to look after and more secure but you may get the odd smell of chickens.
I have found the best place to put a chicken coop is towards a walled corner of your property. It's hidden from prying eyes, sheltered by the wall
Do chicken coops need to be on grass?
Ideally should be placed on a solid surface unless you have a chicken Ark you will be moving about on a regular basis. Rather than putting your chicken coop on grass consider instead casting a concrete base that is both easy to clean and vermin proof.
Chickens will do away with the grass under a coop in a matter of days so it's probably best not to bother.
Coop window placement:
Chicken coops should be a pleasant spot and bright incoming sunshine may effect laying hens.
Windows in chicken coops ideally should face East and West to make the most of the early morning and evening light.
A chicken coop should be very effective in protecting your chickens from outside elements. It needs to safe from cold drafts, but also well ventilated. Too much moisture can cause ammonia to build up and cause diseases.
If you live in hot conditions consider using automatic window openers from greenhouses that pop the windows open above a set temperature.
To prevent this, set up the door so it opens inwards letting air freely enter the shelter. Another technique is to position the coop in an area where it faces the sun. This allows the sun’s heat to dry the ground and prevent too much moisture.
Check your local laws and find a higher, sheltered and well drained place for the coop and place it facing whichever direction makes it the most comfortable for your hens.