Bringing home a new pet? Be it a dog, cat, or chicken, the first stage is the research stage. What do you want from your pet? What is your lifestyle? What are the pros and cons of each breed? What’s the best crate or litter box or coop? It’s no different with chickens. Well, the scale is different. But you still may need to do a bit of research.
Your City Allows Chickens But Are There Ordinances for the Coop?
Many times you can’t just plop down a chicken coop just anywhere in your yard. Many cities have rules about how far the shelter has to be from the neighbor’s yard, etc. Hot tip: in city ordinances, you may want to use the word “shelter” when looking for “coop” rules.
For example, The Village of Palatine only allows a max of 700 sq ft for a chicken coop and no roosters. The chicken coop must be 20 feet from the property line and 40 feet from any other home.
Is Your Yard Big Enough for a Chicken Coop?
Provided that your backyard is large enough for the 20/40ft rule in Palatine (check with your city), you’re good to go. But you’ll also want to fence them in by creating a pen.
One thing you must know about chickens is they are a lot like Beagles. They dig — and so do their predators. They do this to stay warm or cool; they love dirt baths, so if you pride yourself on a lush, green lawn, you’ll want to segment your yard — like you would with a dog run.
Upgrading your fencing to wood with ¼” hardware fabric will keep your yard looking lovely. And, the better your coop looks, the more likely you and your family will spend time outside. (Well, maybe not when it is -20°F, but you know what we mean.)
How to Prep Your Yard for a Chicken Coop
Decide how many chickens you’d like, three is standard. For the Midwest, we recommend chicken coops built with two-by-fours and plywood. The wind here could blow away a frail structure you might find at an online retailer.
Chickens need three to five feet each. So, if you have three chickens, that would be 3×5 = 15 square feet.
Next, measure 20 feet from your property line and mark that. If you’re very close to your neighbors, then go the safe route and do 40 feet. It’s nice to sketch this out on graph paper.
If you have enough space for a 20-square-foot chicken coop (we have 6’x6’x5’ coops housing 14 chickens, for example), then you’re good to go.
Plot out the coop placement in your backyard with stakes and string. Walk around it for a few days to make sure that’s where you like it. Be sure to also plot your pen fencing, too. This is especially important if you buy a coop that doesn’t move around your yard.
What’s Your Next Step?
Purchase & assemble the coop. Again, we recommend sturdy buildings. Many coops online lack weight which could be troublesome during wind events. In Sturgeon Bay, WI, for example, we routinely have 30mph winds with gusts up to 55mph. You will want it lifted from the ground somewhat – especially if your area gets snow. In the summer, chickens love to hang out in the shade under the coop.
We also recommend using pine flake and the stacking method (which becomes great organic chicken fertilizer and reduces the risk of your hens having lung issues). But that’s another blog post.
Are you excited to start your backyard chicken flock?
Made in Door County.