Food and water in coop


9 Years
Jul 7, 2010
This may be a dumb question. But i need to be sure. Our chickens have been outside for only a week now and seem to be doing great. I was amazed that they figured out in only two days to go up the ramp and into the coop at dusk. my question is-- I have been keeping their food and water in the run with nothing in the coop. The run is roofed. Is this wrong ? and why ? Thanks for your help !

Bat Cave Silkies

9 Years
Feb 11, 2010
Bat Cave, NC
If the birds don't have access to their run during the night, you should have water inside their house so they can get a drink during the night. Food isn't necessary (but they'd enjoy that too).

Yay Chicks!

9 Years
Apr 15, 2010
Forest Grove, OR
I leave a little food in the coop but no water. The coop is small and they kept knocking over the water. They have been just fine without it at night. I let them out when it turns light and they have a drink then.


10 Years
Jun 23, 2010
I would never let them go without access to water. If they can get out of the coop to get water then its OK to have it outside. If not it should be inside too. They are fine without food at night.


Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!
13 Years
Nov 9, 2007
SW Arkansas
I keep both my feeder and waterer in the coop for several reasons. One is that if left outside the coop the food attract several types of critters I would prefer not to have around my coop. As it is, this past summer with everything being so dry, no rain for over a month, I had snakes seeking out the outside waterer. Second and most important is that my chickens wake up alot earlier than I do. When they do wake up, they are hungry and thirsty and I don't want them to have to go without.


10 Years
Nov 18, 2009
Lugoff, SC
If the run is grassy then they should be able to feed regularly, though I know chickens can turn grass to dirt ( viola!) very quickly. I always have water and food in the coop but some water outside is good too. Outdoor feed can attract predators and get moldy if rained upon. I would have both indoors, but I also understand spillage is a headache. Search out some of the awesome ideas on BYC for stable feed/water systems that will work for you, as they have designs for any type or size of housing.


In the Brooder
9 Years
Sep 28, 2010
Long Island, NY
Im also new to chickens and in the process of building my coop now. I also was planning on keeping both my food and water in the coop 24-7. During the day when the chickens are out in the run, I assume they figure out to walk back into the coop for food and water if they need? I realize they will get food from the ground in the run, but wanted to ask someone who keeps their food and water in the coop if the chickens make their way back into the coop during the day if they need water? I was trying to avoid leaving any food or water outside of the coop as well. I appreciate your insight, thank you.
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9 Years
May 12, 2010
Erie PA
My food and water stay in the coop. If they are free ranging I put the water out in the yard. Only snacks in the run. I have a nylon rope in the run that I hang kale or something from a couple times a week if they aren't allowed out(hawk issues). Also when they grab the kale, it swings around and they chase it--exercise?


10 Years
Sep 11, 2009
Yucaipa, CA
My Coop
My Coop
I keep my food AND water in the run. I don't want my girls in the coop anymore than necessary, it only makes for more poo in the coop. They put themselves to bed at night and come out into the run at first light. So far I have not lost any to starvation or dehydration.


Crossing the Road
13 Years
Feb 2, 2009
Southeast Louisiana
Many of us do it different ways for different reasons. To me, the only important criteria is when you let them out in the morning. Other than that, everything is personal preference.

Chickens cannot see in the dark. Unless you have a light on in your coop, they cannot see to eat or drink in the dark, so keeping food or water in the coop so they can eat or drink in the dark is a non-issue. It is not going to happen. I think it is important to a chicken's health that they get several hours of darkness at night to completely unwind. Thy need their sleep as much as I do.

When chickens wake up, they are hungry. During the night, they digest the food that was in their crop, their crop is empty, so they want to put something in it as soon as they wake up. They are also thirsty, but with mine the food comes first. If you let them out within an hour or so of them waking up, then I don't think it matters if the food or water is in the coop or only in the run. If you are going to leave them locked up for a few hours, I think food and water should be available in the coop. Although mine go for the food first, I think it is more important for them to have water available. They can eat enough to make up for being just a bit hungry, but I believe water is more important for their health.

Some reasons to feed or water in the coop.

It is available when they wake up.
If you keep them locked up during the day, it is available to them. This one is pretty obvious.
Many people feel they are feeding the wiild birds less if they feed in the coop.
The feed needs to stay dry. That may be easier in the coop.
If you are in a really cold climate, it may be easier to keep water not frozen inside the coop.

Some reasons to feed and water in the run.

Water spills. That is not as big a problem in the run.
Chickens spill feed. This spilled feed and feed in the feeders will attract rodents. Do you want rodents in your coop or in your run?
Gritsar mentioned water possibly attracting snakes. Where do you want them, if that is a potential problem.
Chickens poop a lot. They willl hang out and poop more wherever the food and water is. Poop is usually easier to manage in the run than in the coop.
Chickens spill feed. It may be easier for them to clean up spilled food in the run than in the coop, depending on your bedding material. Of course, chickens scratch for spilled feed. If it is in the coop, they may keep the bedding scratched up so the poop is mixed up better. It might keep you from raking it as much.
I use solar heating to keep my water thawed in the winter, keeping it in a black rubber bowl set in the sun. The sun does not shine in the coop.

I'm sure there are other reasons but I can't think of any. By the way, I do both. I don't always let them out real early, but I find mine eat the food and drink the water in the run instead of in the coop when they have a choice.

Good luck!

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