Feeding, Watering, Electrical Outlets, and Free Ranging.


In the Brooder
Jun 2, 2020
Hi everyone! So I have been a city dweller my whole life. I would love to move out to some land but just not an option at this time. So I'm trying to bring a little of the country life to me and my family. Anyways I have been building a coop that is 8' X 4'. It's raised off the ground two feet as well so it has room for the chickens to walk under. I also am making a run that will come off the coop about 5' X 16' in diameter. I have a few questions as we are new to raising chickens. The first question is: I live in MN where it can get cold and very hot and humid. Is it better to feed and give water to the chickens inside the coop, outside, or both? The second question is: I know how to install electrical boxes and wanted to put a few into the coop. Wondering if it's worth it to have a light to have on, or use a multipurpose as a heat lamp for winter. And if its worth having a light in the coop. But I have also read they don't need heat and adapt well. And my final question is even though I may ask more lol is: I have the above listed run for the chickens. I also have a 4' high chain link fence around my whole property. Wondering if it's wise to free range them from time to time out of the run and can they get over the 4' fence? I have heard some people say they have had no issues and others say there chickens ended up in trees. I have no real trees for them to get into but many neighbors yards to get into. Thoughts? Thank you so much!!
On the electricity. You do not have to have it, but it is sure convenient. You may want to heat water this winter to keep it from freezing. It can be really convenient to have light with the flip of a switch. You should not need to heat your coop this winter, your chickens should not need that. But some people heat nests a bit to keep eggs from freezing. With electricity out there you can brood in your coop instead of in your house if you wish. Electricity gives you options.

When I put electricity in mine I followed code. I put in a breaker box and ran a few circuits from that, keeping lights separate from outlets. I used outdoor fixtures for added safety.

Some people feed and water in the coop only. Some in the run only. I do both. We all have our reasons for what we do. There is no right or wrong answer, just choices. Do what is most convenient for you, the chickens won't care. And be flexible. If you run into a problem try something else.

Oh, the fences question. It's a good question, often asked on here. Unfortunately there is no good answer. Chickens can fly, much better than many people realize. But they won't fly unless they want to. Some chickens don't want to fly over a 3 feet high fence. Others launch over a 6 feet high fence without a care. I have no idea what your chickens will want to do. The bigger your back yard the less likely they will want to leave. Your fence is chain link. That may help, not sure what it looks like. Chickens love to perch up high. It's just fun to fly up and look around. If your fence has a rail on top that looks like a fun place to perch they may just fly up there to perch. Who knows which side they may hop down on. If the top of your fence is wire it is not a good place to perch so they are less likely to fly up there.

My suggestion is to try it and see what they do. You might want to train them to come when called, just in case. If you use the same bucket each time and give them a special call like,"Here, Chicky, Chiky" and feed them treats from that bucket it might not take long for them to learn to come when called.
I have electric in my coops to add light and to keep water from freezing.
I run extension cords to both coops from an outside box with a weather rated GFCI and cover. 20181218_084427.jpg 20181218_084716.jpg
I wired inside and outside the coops.

20190129_091527.jpg . GC
I live in MN
You're gonna want power out there, to keep water thawed in winter.
Get your birds on horizontal nipples before winter,
best evaporation and freeze free way to winter water.
Plus the other reasons @Ridgerunner explained so well.
If you can hard wire to code, do it.
Extension cord can work, but has it's risks.

Welcome to BYC! @bdsanders
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I live in southern Minnesota, and did add electrical to my coop and run. However, it is only for heating the waterer, which is a horizontal nipple one. I do not heat the coop, and my birds all survived the -32F we had in January of 2019, and this years lows down to -26F. The waterer also managed to no freeze, despite the cold temperatures. I have lights in the coop, but I only use them so that I can see to do some cleanup in there, on days when it is a bit dark in there. I do not use it to extend laying at all.

I did buy a Sweeter Heater for my 8 new chicks that I brooded in the coop this time. I took it away from them a week ago, as they were not spending any time under it anymore, despite some lows in the low 50s. They will be six weeks old tomorrow. I may...maybe...still undecided...put the Sweeter Heater in the coop above the birds next winter. Not to add heat to the coop, since it won't do that, but to give the birds just a little warmth on their heads during extreme below zero temperatures. My aim is to reduce frostbite. However, this winter, they didn't get any frostbite, despite there being no heat...so.... :)
You will want electricity out there, for the heated waterers in winter, and lighting. Be safe and do it up to code; coop fires are not good! Coops are dusty places, mice chew electric cords not in conduit, and birds fly into unprotected light bulbs!
You shouldn't need to actually heat the coop.
Do select breeds that do well in cold weather, and aren't noted to want to range too far. Henderson't breed chart is helpful!
Are you ready to be crawling under that coop ? It won't be fun!
Chickens hate snow, and a roofed run is very nice to have, or you will be shoveling a lot in winter. Also, have enough coop space so your birds aren't crowded when they want to stay inside. Consider a larger coop space, and a covered safe run, if at all possible.

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