Shelter for Chickens

As well as having a dry, draft free house to sleep in, chickens require a certain amount of shelter from the elements. Bushes, a hedge or wall can be used if birds free range to get out of the sun, wind or rain but if this sort of cover is not available, you should consider erecting some sort of shelter that allows them to get out of the elements.

Raising a chicken house onto legs about 18 inches off the floor and covering one side in the direction of the prevailing wind is a good idea as this provides them with shelter for the daytime. If you have a covered run, you can put corrugated plastic sheets on the roof which take the strength out of the sun and shelter your chickens from the rain.

Remember to put water containers in shaded positions during the hottest summer months so that water doesn’t over heat. Chickens cool down by drinking water as well as panting. You can read more about that on my page covering Water For Chickens.


  1. Hi,
    Very useful website!!
    I’m just about to get a couple of chickens, we have a bit of our garden that we are going to fence off for the chickens (about 25 sq meters) would this be enough space to stop them turning it to mud very quickly? Its currently grass/weeds.
    Thanks for any advice


    • Possibly, the winter will be the big test. Different types of grass wear differently. If it is a hard wearing type of grass, you should find it easier.

  2. Hi
    I have just started keeping chickens and have 3 bantams. They are in a coop with a large run attached to it. Do I need to close the coop door at night ? The run is very secure so nothing can get in. The design of the coop and run makes it difficult to get to the door although we could change it if needed.
    Many thanks

    • If the run is secure then no, but as an added precaution against predators, if you can close it easily then I would.

  3. I’m planning on getting around three chickens for eggs I just need to know what hight to build the coop and do I have to move it if i plan on letting them free roam when I’m home and also I’m planning on attatching a run for when i’m at work the total size is 24sq feet but no web site states a recomended hight.

    many thanks


    • The coop height is not critical, it’s more about ease for you getting in to clean and collect eggs. You don’t have to move it.

      The run height is covered on my page on poultry fencing. There are a number of options to keep foxes out.

  4. Hi!

    I’m so glad I’ve found this site! I’m a first time chicken owner and so far loving every moment!

    I have a few questions:

    I haven’t got a roof on my coup yet (it arrives at the weekend), so today I put tarpaulin over it. Is wet ground a hazard to feet at all?

    I’ve noticed a lot of flies since the chickens arrived – is this normal?

    I have layers mash and pellets. I’m giving them a mixture of both mainly pellets. Is this ok? They seem to prefer the mash, corn and tit. It’s to the pellets, so I’m making sure I give them mainly pellets. Should I only do one or the other?

    I’m keeping them in the main coop for a few days, because a couple of birds have taken to roosting on the house instead of going in. I’m putting them in myself. Will they eventually go in themselves?

    I have 7 chickens and average 5 eggs a day so they must be fairly settled?

    What else can I do for them to make life comfortable please?

    • Wet ground shouldn’t be a problem but muddy ground is bad because it provides ideal conditions for poultry worms.

      Flies will appear where there is muck. You can use a ground sanitiser once in a while but I like to use red top fly traps too. The website has a good review and instructions on using these.

      You can feed mash and pellets, either is good but remember that corn should be used as a treat, no more than a handful per hen per day.

      They should eventually start to go in the coop when they settle.

      It sounds as if they are happy laying 5 eggs per day.

  5. hi,
    im building a coop in my council back garden. i have permission.
    does the coop and run have to be a certain distance from properties?
    hope u understand.
    susan. x

  6. I’ve recently built a new coop for our 3 Warrens and they seem very happy with it and I’m getting 2 to 3 eggs daily. Now it’s getting colder what night time temperatures should they be happy at?
    They are not using the roost bars but sit together on the sawdust covered raised wooden flooring.

    • Chickens are kept in very cold climates (eg Canada) and can withstand the cold well. Providing they are feathered, they can fluff up their feathers to trap air and insulate themselves.

      Just make sure they have water available at all times (not frozen), are kept in a dry, draft free chicken coop that is ventillated (they need ventillation to clear the ammonia that is given off droppings and can harm their respiratory system).

  7. I have 3 chickens which I have had for about 3, months, they are about 8 months old, one of them has been laying since I got them and she is the top hen, one is laying every other day but the third (which has hardly laid any) is being bullied by the first hen, she is bald above her tail, what can I do to protect her, the other 2 roost at night but the third one is always found in the nesting box, she stays back whilst the other 2 have treats, I believe there a spray I can use to stop her from being pecked, the top hen is a pecker as she will peck anything I take into the pen including me!! Looking forward to hear your advice.

    • If you can give them more space, that will help. They will have more space to avoid confrontation in a free range environment.

      Yes, you can get anti-peck sprays and also ‘bumper bits’ that you can fit to the beak which keeps it open a little. This means they can eat but can’t peck and pull out feathers. These are only short term solutions though, longer term, if you can’t provide the space, you may need to consider reforming the bully.

  8. Hi
    I am looking for your advice. My daughter are starting to prepare ourselves for some chickens. We have a nearly new aviary that we used to keep cockatiels in briefly.
    We have scrubbed it out using vanodine and even none were visible to our eye we have sprayed it with anti mite spray and dusted it over with diatoms (not sure if I spelt this right). The inside aviary is 7ft wide by 5ft deep and 6ft high. The outside part of the aviary is laid on slabs ( this was to prevent rodents ) and this area is about 6ft sq. the hens when settled will have access to our back garden when they have settled in. Do you think that this would be suitable?
    We do not know what kind of hens to keep in here and how many I was thinking possibly 3 but I don’t know.
    We wanted hens for a long time and I promised when she was responsible enough we would get some. My daughter is now 13 and in September will be starting an animal welfare course at school, so I think we are about ready. Thanks in advance for your advice.

    • This size seems a little small – but by letting them out daily, it should work. You can always increase the size of your run once you get some more experience.

      You may find you need to limit them to certain areas of the garden if they are out for long periods as most people don’t want droppings on patios or paths for example and they will scratch up flower beds.

  9. Hi I am thinking of getting chickens but only have a small front garden of my tenement flat in Glasgow. The chickens would only be able to free roam when we are home as their are foxes in the vicinity. I have space for a 2 metre by 1.6 metre run and the house would be raised so thee would be space under for shelter.

    I would not be able to move the coop and run so is there a way I can change the wood chips etc to improve their well being? And how often would this be needed.

    Does this seem at all viable? I realise you can keep chickens in extremely tight situations, but I am keen on having happy productive birds.

    Great site and thank you

    • It would be possible by changing the wood chip when it gets messy, although it’s not ideal if they can’t get out and scratch around on a regular basis! You will see how happy your hens are when they are free ranging.

  10. Hi,

    I’m preparing an area of my garden for the arrival of 3 hens. I plan on building a 7m x 1.5m run attached to the coop that will not be moveable and will have a roof. At present the area that the run will sit on is just soil…. My question is, will this ground be ok or should chippings of some sort be laid on top of it?

    Ps… Great site

    • It will be fine for a while but over time it will become soiled and there will be a risk of disease and worms.

      I would consider covering it with 4-5 inches of wood chippings / rubber chippings or sand that you can replace once it’s badly soiled. You will also find this gives your birds something to scratch through and make hollows in to have a dust bath.

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