free range and feeder location

mmct147

Hatching
Nov 27, 2018
2
5
9
I have 2 coops and about 30 chickens. They free range and I have feeders inside the outer covered run portion of their coops, and I have also placed water buckets and feed trays outside in many locations as they roam over a good acre + of land. I feel like I waste a ton of feed though, although they do use the feed outside. Do others also supply extra feed outside of the run or do you think this is unnecessary?
 

Nksg75

Songster
6 Years
Aug 18, 2014
968
1,031
221
Needville Texas
I have 2 coops and about 30 chickens. They free range and I have feeders inside the outer covered run portion of their coops, and I have also placed water buckets and feed trays outside in many locations as they roam over a good acre + of land. I feel like I waste a ton of feed though, although they do use the feed outside. Do others also supply extra feed outside of the run or do you think this is unnecessary?
I also free range mine from 8:30am-5:15pm(this is when I set the auto opener)
I keep my feed strictly inside the coop. I have them on about 5 acres and I like the fact that they have to come back to the coop for food and water. (Keeps them from wandering too far) It also keeps the food dry when we have unexpected rain showers.
I also have 2 donkeys and a horse in the pasture with them, and they unfortunately have gotten a taste for chicken feed so my reasons are probably different from yours.
With 2 coops your in a different situation than I am, and as long as you have food and water in both I don't see a need to drag the food outside. (That's just more work for you) The water is a different story, it won't matter if it rains, so go for it.
With the feed I would be concerned that they would spill it and then the feed on the ground left outside is both an attractant to other animals after dark, and possibly after a rain is going to mold and be useless anyway.
Just my 2 cents anyway!!
 

Shadrach

Roosterist
Jul 31, 2018
17,677
138,431
1,582
Catalonia, Spain
My Coop
My Coop
I have 2 coops and about 30 chickens. They free range and I have feeders inside the outer covered run portion of their coops, and I have also placed water buckets and feed trays outside in many locations as they roam over a good acre + of land. I feel like I waste a ton of feed though, although they do use the feed outside. Do others also supply extra feed outside of the run or do you think this is unnecessary?
This is much more of a problem with free ranging than one might suppose.
I never put feed in the coop. Anything that might eat the feed will go into the coop, this includes, rats, weasels, mice and anything else that can get through the door. I would rather such creatures stayed outside.
However, as @Nksg75 points out, feed left outside gets eaten by other animals. Here the sheep, the dogs, the Muscovy ducks, the birds, the rats and mice all seem to like chicken food!
After eight years I still haven’t found the ideal solution.
I don’t leave food down anywhere here. I supervise a morning and evening feed. It takes time, but there is less waste and I can make sure all the chickens eat. Depending on the time of year and weather, the importance of providing commercial feed changes. In the Spring for example the chickens here eat very little of it. At the moment because it’s been so wet they’re eating more of the commercial feed and foraging less.
 

mmct147

Hatching
Nov 27, 2018
2
5
9
I also free range mine from 8:30am-5:15pm(this is when I set the auto opener)
I keep my feed strictly inside the coop. I have them on about 5 acres and I like the fact that they have to come back to the coop for food and water. (Keeps them from wandering too far) It also keeps the food dry when we have unexpected rain showers.
I also have 2 donkeys and a horse in the pasture with them, and they unfortunately have gotten a taste for chicken feed so my reasons are probably different from yours.
With 2 coops your in a different situation than I am, and as long as you have food and water in both I don't see a need to drag the food outside. (That's just more work for you) The water is a different story, it won't matter if it rains, so go for it.
With the feed I would be concerned that they would spill it and then the feed on the ground left outside is both an attractant to other animals after dark, and possibly after a rain is going to mold and be useless anyway.
Just my 2 cents anyway!!
Since you bring up donkeys, I have been considering adding a donkey pair or donkey/ pony pair. Do you have an estimation on how much it costs you to feed your herd of 3 for a year? I understand the donkeys are good protectors from predators - does that include scaring off feral dogs and feral cats?
 

Compost King

Free Ranging
Apr 19, 2018
3,304
11,493
707
Salisbury, North Carolina
Although I am set up with breeding coops/runs currently, When I had large coops with large flocks I kept the feed and water outside of the roosting area in an area with w a dirt floor. wasted feed fed worms that the chickens scratched for, spilt water was not making ammonia fumes anymore. If I overslept they still had access to this area because it was as secure as the coop and the doorway was always open to it. I actually prefer separate eating and sleeping areas.

One Problem I did have is that rats will dig to get to feeders. Anytime in the future when I do something like this I will dig down about a foot and put in a hardware cloth floor that allows worms in and keeps rats out... then fill back in with the same top soil I dug out.
 

GC-Raptor

Free Ranging
Jul 26, 2016
5,128
9,669
621
Connecticut, USA
I keep feed and water in both coops. I only let my 31 month olds Free range an hour before sunset daily.
I also keep water under the raised coops. I give them Scratch Grains as a treat scattered in their pens. The song birds help them selves to some. They would devour feed if left outside. So far in 2 1/2 years I've only caught 2 birds in the coop. I only open the chicken door. GC
 

Compost King

Free Ranging
Apr 19, 2018
3,304
11,493
707
Salisbury, North Carolina
I remember when I kept mine penned just to keep them in the yard and let the free range every afternoon/evening I was outside. if you can only partially free range the best time is before sunset because they come back home before they wander to far out. Its a great way to allow them some freedom without risking them wandering outside of their boundaries.
 

igorsMistress

Frank and Abbys mom.
Premium Feather Member
8 Years
Apr 9, 2013
23,176
121,348
1,632
My Coop
My Coop
I think with that kind of space to roam you likely only need the waters out there most times of the year. Winter might be the only time you really need anything extra out for them. They should have lots of bugs and greens and seeds the rest of the year to keep them happy.

Feed consumption increases for us in winter, less to forage.
 

andreanar

Crowing
5 Years
May 16, 2014
2,832
4,887
437
Finger Lakes, NY
Mine free range from sunup till sundown. I never keep feed in the coop. I put the food in the run in the morning, they eat, then take off to forage for the day. They come back now and then to snack and lay eggs. I keep water out in the yard in a few of their fav places in the summer. At dusk they come to the run, eat some more and go to roost. Then I put the food away in a metal storage container.
 

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