Leaving food and water inside the coop?

granta

Hatching
Nov 18, 2018
7
2
9
SE Michigan
I have 3 chickens inside a 3' x 6' coop on top of a 9' x 6' run (the Garden Coop design) and have been leaving their water (on the galvanized steel heater so it doesn't freeze) and food outside in the run, which is covered and snow free. But, ever since it start dipping below freezing and snowing, the ladies have decided that they don't want to go out of their coop! I'm concerned that they won't get enough water or food, so I've been giving them bowls of scratch and using their old chick-sized waterer in the morning. Is it okay to move some food inside the coop? I don't know if mixing their sleeping quarters and eating/drinking quarters is okay.
 

llombardo

Crowing
Mar 11, 2018
3,015
4,803
346
Illinois
I have a pvc feeder in the coop and a heated water bottle. The heated water bottle is working well--they are using it and the water is contained. It's funny because the rabbits have the same bottle but it's facing the opposite direction, my rooster was trying to figure that out today. He was very confused that he couldn't get water. There is no spillage and I worry less about frostbite because only enough comes out when they peck it. I do have a heated water bowl in the run for during the day.

This is the water bottle(I don't have a picture of it in the coop)-I fill it daily.
image.jpg
 

granta

Hatching
Nov 18, 2018
7
2
9
SE Michigan
The only thing the food might do in the coop is attract rodents. The water might up the humidity a little but do what you have to do. I would think they would go outside if they got hungry enough though.

They will go outside when they are ready. Throw some scratch on the ground and let them figure it out.

That's what I thought, but they devoured the food that I brought in this morning. There are also feathers everywhere which I think is from them needing water?! Is it possible that one of the chickens just started molting?
 

GC-Raptor

Free Ranging
Jul 26, 2016
5,033
9,248
621
Connecticut, USA
I keep feed and water on a heated base in both coops. 20181021_092420.jpg . 20181023_173405.jpg . If your coop is big enough and ventilated go for it.
Yesterday was in the 30s Fahrenheit and breezy. My chickens 31 months and 13 weeks old came out of their coops to get their daily 9am treat of Scratch Grains scattered in the pen. 20181118_093946.jpg . When the young girls finished they went back in the coop up to the roosts after I left. They don't like a breeze.
On cold windy days only the chicken door is left open, 20181105_091216.jpg , and I don't open a window. 20181104_151017.jpg . GC
 

coach723

Free Ranging
6 Years
Feb 12, 2015
6,534
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North Florida
I don't keep food and water in the coop due to the mice attraction and the mess. But I don't have terrible winters here either. The only time I have had food/water inside was when they had to be locked in for a hurricane/tropical storm until it passed. I think it mostly depends on your set up, what works for you, and what is necessary based on your climate. Mine don't like wind, so I have windbreaks up for them to hunker down behind on windy days or when a thunderstorm comes through. Mine go out in all weather and temperatures (granted freezing is less common here and usually only overnight), and will sometimes go under cover in heavy rain, and sometimes they just stay out in it. They can be very resistant to change, so that may be a problem. I would just sprinkle some treats on the ramp and the ground below to coax them out, eventually it will probably be less of an issue. Too much scratch can lead to health problems down the road, so I'd reserve that as a treat and give them their regular feed in the bowls. If they have to come outside to get the 'good stuff', they will.
 

granta

Hatching
Nov 18, 2018
7
2
9
SE Michigan
The whole thing is covered in hardware cloth so hopefully the mouse problem isn't a thing. It seems like it's okay to give them food and water in the coop though, which is a relief.

I meant their normal feed crumble, not scratch so don't worry about that! I'll try coaxing them down the ramp with treats!
 

50-45-1

Free Ranging
13 Years
Feb 25, 2008
2,658
8,455
626
Northern Michigan (tip of the little finger area)
My Coop
My Coop
Not sure where you are located but if you are in the snowbelt, i would put some plastic or tarps around 3 sides of the coop/run and over the top to shelter them some more.
Sounds like they are molting. You could also use 4X8 sheets of plywood if the plastic makes to much noise in the wind and scares them.
I would keep the water and food down below. They will come out in there own time.
Good luck!
 

coach723

Free Ranging
6 Years
Feb 12, 2015
6,534
10,930
611
North Florida
The whole thing is covered in hardware cloth so hopefully the mouse problem isn't a thing. It seems like it's okay to give them food and water in the coop though, which is a relief.
If your hardware cloth is 1/2 inch the mice can go through it. If it's 1/4 inch they can't. I have watched them do it with 1/2 inch and I actually found one stuck in it one morning half way through. It got too fat on my chicken feed and got itself stuck, it was in a corner and the chickens missed it somehow or it would have been eaten I'm sure. If you find droppings in the nest box bedding, or on perimeter wood where they like to run, you'll know they are there.
 

MANNA-PRO

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