Feed and water in pen/coop


May 1, 2019
First time chick owner here. I am getting ready to move our 6-week old chicks outside and I have a few questions:

What types of feeder and Waterer are best? Those that sit on the ground or those that hang? I don’t want them kicking stuff into them on the ground like they do in the brooder but maybe that’s not a big issue outside where there aren’t shavings to kick into it?

I assume feed and water stay outside in the pen rather than in the coop. True?

Right now, the area the pen encloses is grassy. Will it eventually become just dirt? If/when that happens do I need to put straw or something down or can they just have a dirt floor in the pen? The coop is pretty small, just a few nesting boxes and a couple of roosting bars so I don’t anticipate them spending much time in it.

I’ve read that you should put something in the nesting boxes to keep the chicks from sleeping there until they are ready to lay? What would you put in them?

I will probably have more questions but this is a start. My gals are ready for more space. I’m so glad the weather has turned so they can be moved outside! So glad I found you all. Such great resources!

Mary Beth


Apr 2, 2017
Flower Mound, Texas
Hi Mary Beth- Our little barn girls have a steel hanging poultry feeder, we were using a 5 quart poultry drinker but recently changed to a large tractor supply bucket with watering cup drinkers. We elevated the drinker on bricks and raised the bucket off the ground some too. Both waterers have proven to be good for the girls. The food and water is best kept outside in their pen. My girls love to eat grass, weeds any living flower...so in time you may find your grass has been consumed. We use pine mulch to cover the ground in our enclosure. This works well. We change it out about twice a year and spot clean up regularly. (poop scoop) We put hay in the egg boxes and pine shaving under the roosts and I occasionally dust the coop with diatomaceous earth to ward off mites.

There are sooooo many great ideas on this site. Glean everything you can and find what works best for you. In time you'll have your own favorite method too.


Feb 28, 2016
Golden Valley AZ
I keep hanging feeders in the coop, the kids have auto waterer's, aka dog bowls. Mine have a dirt run, except for when it rains or the hose or something breaks on one of the waterer's, the dirt floor is just fine. Helps with them getting grit too. I use pine shavings in my nest boxes and to keep them from sleeping in them you will need to block them off with something. I used pieces of board to cover mine till my chickens figured out what the new roost was. How many chicks do you have and what is the measurements on your coop?


Mar 20, 2015
I just switched to a grain feeder (pic isn't of mine, I just used it as reference). They're very convenient and hang off the ground. Drill small holes in them and it keeps your feed dry (if outside). I have one that can fit two feeds so I put oyster shell/egg shell on one side and Flock Raiser on the other side. they cant kick the feed out, which is the best part about it. I do feed FF in in open bowls but those are emptied every night and washed out.

We just made a bucket waterer with poultry watering cups and they chickens seems to really like it so far. We raised it on bricks outside. We also have a gallon waterer that you find at TSC just for back up because they haven't figured out how to fill the cups yet.

Block off nesting boxes with cardboard pieces to keep them out because once you get them sleep in there, they'll continue. They will poop in the boxes and everything so it just makes a nuisance for the other birds and you.



The Frosted Flake
11 Years
Jul 26, 2008
Kenai Peninsula, Alaska
My Coop
My Coop
If your run is large enough....

It would be nice to put a grow frame down. Pretty much a picture frame with wire across it, so the grass can grow up through the wire, but the chicks can't dig up the grass.

You do NOT want a huge one, because you do not want that wire to be the only thing they can walk on...and chickens love to dig....

But a small spot with grass would be great.

If the nest boxes are lower than the perches then there isn't usually a problem with the chicks sleeping in the boxes.

I prefer feed and water in the run.

I use rubber pans for water, and I prefer PVC pipe feeders for feed as they have close to zero waste.


Free Ranging
Jul 3, 2016
Pac NW
My Coop
My Coop
I don't personally like hanging feeders/waterers and my coop isn't set up for it anyhow (no good crossbeams in roof), so I just set them on bricks, upside down flower pots or buckets.

I keep my water out in the run just in case there's a leak or drips, as moisture is not something you want inside a coop. My dry feed is inside the coop to protect it from the weather. My fermented feed is out in the run because once again, moisture (and the chickens fling it around).

For run flooring, yes you'll need some form of litter once grass is gone. Most popular choices are probably sand and deep litter, and both have pros and cons to consider.

Nest boxes can be blocked with a piece of plywood or cardboard. That said, I've never had to block my boxes... I train my chickens to use the roost as soon as they move in.


Nov 13, 2018
New Zealand
Any feed\water station left on the ground will inevitably end up buried - save yourself the trouble and plan ahead for an elevated or hanging setup unless you go with a grandpa feeder. - Elevated feeders will need to be weighed down somehow or they'll go flying when they get near empty.
Start early on with ensuring your chicks are on the roost at night by manually moving them. They won't go hunting for the nest boxes after sundown and will pick up that the roost is where they should be quite quickly.
My girls didn't really start destroying their run till they came into lay, so now is a good time to establish plants if you'd like. Cloche anything delicate till it establishes. Along with growing frames, they seem to leave poly-tunnels alone, so these can be used to grow temporary buffets too.
Designated dust bathing areas and 'dig piles' will go a long way to extend the life of that lawn, especially if it's the tough ropey kind.


Feb 19, 2017
Charlotte, NC
I use horizontal nipple waterers and DIY no waste feeders. I can go away for more than a week and not have to depend on someone to feed or give water to my flock. I have a neighbor that likes to come get the eggs though.

I keep food and water inside and outside, my coop and run are open 24/7.

You will need something in the run. If you leave it dirt and don't pick up the poop regularly, you will have a nasty fly problem. I recommend deep litter or just wood chips, not shavings, depending on your run size. Deep litter or chips gives your chickens something to scratch through and dust bath in also as it breaks down.

I don't cover my nest boxes. I have laying hens and chicks mixed in my flock, so I need them open. I've never had a problem with any birds sleeping in them. My roost board is higher than the nest boxes. Even when I had a lower roost for the chicks, they never slept in the nest boxes.

Horizontal nipples can be found on Amazon. Link for the DIY feeder and Heated horizontal nipple waterer.



14 Gallon Waterer  and No Waste Feeder.jpg

14 gallon waterer.jpg

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