Should Chicken Coops Be Off The Ground?

You may have noticed that many chicken coops are raised off the ground, even larger commercial coops. This is a very common design for chicken coops.

If you’re planning on owning chickens and you’re about to build or buy a coop, there are a number of factors to consider, and its design is one of the most important.

The most important thing is that your chickens are as happy, healthy and safe as possible, right? So, why is it so common for chicken coops to be off the ground?

There are plenty of benefits for choosing an elevated coop such as protection from other animals that could burrow into the coop such as predators and rodents. They’re also good for preventing too much moisture building up in the coop, especially if it's near run-off water. 

Elevated coops also help to regulate the temperature of the coop because they allow proper air circulation. The space beneath the coop will also provide a nice sheltered shady area for them to rest.

Should Chicken Coops Be Off The Ground?

How high should a chicken coop be off the ground?

This depends on how much space you have and the size of the coop. If you have a larger, walk-in coop it should be at least a foot above the ground. This is high enough to allow a good airflow without being so high that rodents can’t comfortably nest under there.

If this is not an option, you could settle for just eight to 10 inches to ensure rodents can’t burrow through the floor.

If you have a smaller chicken coop that can be built on legs, you should raise it much higher than a bigger coop. It's common for small chicken coops to be built at least 16 inches off the ground although some can be as high as four feet or more off the ground.

This is particularly useful if you want a coop with a drop-down floor for ease of cleaning because you’ll need enough space for the doors to properly open and drop the bedding below.

As we’ve said you want it to be high enough to provide airflow and protect your chickens from the different weather conditions but, you don’t want it so high that other animals can interfere and put your chickens at risk.

Where should a chicken coop be placed in a yard?

Where you place the chicken coop is super important and will impact the coop's longevity. The best thing to do is ensure the coop is built on level ground to give you a solid, sturdy foundation to work with.

If you don’t have a level area in your yard you can always dig one out or, if this isn’t possible you could always raise it with legs and alter each leg accordingly to create a flat floor for the coop.

It’s also really important that the chicken coop is placed in an area that has proper drainage and will not be spending months at a time submerged in water as this will deteriorate the flooring and create mold and bacteria that could be harmful to the chickens.

To ensure the floor will remain dry all year round, you could lay a concrete foundation. Alternatively if your coop is raised above the ground, it is more likely to stay dry.

However, as we’ve mentioned, raised coops have their pros and cons. If you don’t raise them high enough you could end up having to deal with families of rodents like mice setting up camp beneath your chickens.

They may try to eat the chickens' food or introduce parasites to the space, putting your chickens at risk.

Which direction should your chicken coop face?

The direction your chicken coop is facing is also super important because chickens require a certain amount of sunlight and warmth per day in order to grow and produce eggs healthily. 

It is recommended that you build a chicken coop to face the south so that the chickens can receive enough sunlight and warmth throughout the day.

The only problem is during the colder months where the days are much shorter, the chicken’s will not receive enough sunlight and warmth. So, you will also need to install a light and/or heat source near or inside the coop.

How far away from the house should a chicken coop be?

When it comes to deciding how far away from your home the chicken coop should be, there are a number of factors to consider.

Most people will tell you that it’s best to keep the chicken coop as close to the house as possible. The main reason for this is safety but there are also lots of reasons why keeping the chicken coop close to the house. These include:

  • Safety - it’s safer to have your chickens close enough to your house so that you can keep an eye on them should any predators or naughty humans try to take or harm them. Being close by will allow you to watch them and hear any altercations happening as fortunately your chicken will certainly let you know if a fox or other predator has entered the coop
  • Convenience - keeping chickens and maintaining a coop requires a lot of effort and time so you will need to be checking on your chickens a couple of times a day to feed them and let them out to roam. So, the closer the coop is to your home, the easier it will be for you to tend to them, especially when the weather is bad you won’t want to trek to the other side of your property to see to the chickens
  • Power - as we mentioned, during the colder months you will probably have to run a source of heat and light into the coop to keep your chickens comfortable and healthy. So, this will often require an electrical power source that will likely need to run from your house. The closer the coop is to your house the easier it will be to run an extension cord to the coop

However, there are also a few downsides to having the chicken coop close to your home. So, it’s best to find a happy medium.

You want the coop close enough to your house so you have the convenience of tending to them and being able to see them and keep them safe but some downsides include:

  • Smells and flies - chickens are outdoor animals so will of course attract insects and smells to the coop and surrounding area due to their food and feces etc. so, flies and strange odors are to be expected. So, you don’t want any of that mess too close to your house where you eat and sleep! You also don’t want the look of the coop to interfere with the look of your home. Smelly chickens and flies roaming about your house are not very attractive.
  • Cleanliness - you will also have to clean the coop often, including removing any mess and droppings from the chickens. This will sometimes require hosing down the coop and surrounding area. You don’t want the spray to get into your house or dirty the outside of your home.