Newbie question.


Mar 18, 2018
After the chicks get old enough to go into the coop for the night. Do you leave food and water in the coop all night with them, or do you just close them up and they can get their water and food in the morning/all day when they are out in the run?
I have food and water in the coop at all times. Other do not; it depends on your chicken keeping style.

Even though we have food and water in the run (during the day only), ours have the cutest routine of going into the coop at night: They go in one at a time and do an "assembly line" pass at grit, oyster shell, feed, and water, then they hop onto the roosts to settle down.

Also I don't have an automatic chicken door on the coop and sometimes we can't peel the mattress off when the girls want to be up in the morning. So at least they have food at water first thing without us having to be there.

Also we get some horrible weather where they will spend most (if not all) of a day in the coop. Nice to have food and water built-in for that!
I used to leave water and feeds in the coop for 6 months until I mature and wiser with my hens, coop is cleaner dryer and no poop in the water by having it all in the run. Less work and happier chickens.
I also moved the food and water out of the coop this past winter when I read an article about frost bite. It said that increased moisture could contribute to frostbite. It seemed to me that their heated water could be increasing the humidity quite a bit. (Frostbite had not been a problem, but also we did not have an incredibly cold winter.)

Their coop doesn't have additional light, so if it is dark my chickens are sleeping or pretending to sleep. Well, they wake up about 30 minutes before what I consider it to be sunrise, but I am an early riser and this is my favorite time of day. I made a couple little shelters to house their food and water outside of their coop. Also, if the weather turns nasty they have alternative places to relax in addition to their coop.

The only downside to moving their water away from their house is that most of my hens hate the snow or are afraid of it or don't want to walk on it. So in the winter sometimes I start my day by shoveling a good portion of their run, so they can roam around a bit, but I think that I would shovel the run even if I had left their water inside.

When they had chicks in their nest box, I did add small dishes of food and water nearby for the babies.
I used to leave water and feeds in the coop for 6 months until I mature and wiser with my hens, coop is cleaner dryer and no poop in the water by having it all in the run. Less work and happier chickens.

Oh yes! @kwebb if you do opt for food and water in the coop do it in such a way that it doesn't make a mess. I forgot to mention that. I have a hanging bucket waterer with horizontal nipples. No spilled water, freeze resistant, and no open top to add moisture to the coop (plus I can swap it out easily from the outside via a "poop door" for cleaning).

For food I use a hanging PVC hopper with a ferret corner litter pan as a feed dispenser. It's AMAZING. They can't perch on it (so they can't poop in it), and they can't fling food out of it. It holds enough food for 7-10 days and it can be filled easily from the outside without needing to get in the coop.

There are definitely ways to give yourself a headache - do yourself a favor and avoid them :D
My feed and water setup in the run
I had my brooder set up inside my coop. When the chicks were old enough to be "let out" into the run I moved all food and water to the run. I leave the door from the coop to the run open at all times, so they are free to come and go as they please. After about 5 weeks of age, they usually sleep through the night and don't need food or water after dark. I personally feel it's better for the birds health to keep food out of the coop. Water causes moisture in the winter, food attracts rodents to try to get inside, I just don't like the idea. Again, the door is open and food and water is just outside. . . . .
coop and run door small.jpg
If you do opt for feed/water in your coop, here's the setup I use to do that and also eliminate mess and prevent added moisture from an open waterer:
07-Feeder and Waterer.JPG

The feed tube enters into the feed storage cabinet (the bucket is hanging from the cabinet's bottom).

There is a poop/clean out door immediately behind the feeder and waterer. That makes it easy to change the bucket from the outside of the coop.

The feed storage cabinet holds the hanging feeder securely. That cabinet is also accessed from the outside so you don't have to go in the coop to fill the feeder. There's an airtight 3-gal bucket in that cabinet to store extra feed, all the bits needed to fill tube (funnel, scoop) and a stash of extra grit and crushed oyster shell are in there as well. Here's a look inside the cabinet (before I loaded it, but the spare waterer shows how the feed bucket fits.)
08-Feed Cabinet.JPG

The 3" PVC tube is just screwed into the mounting block system, so you can raise/lower the tube if needed as the chickens grow.

I have added a free choice grit and crushed oyster shell setup immediately to the left of the feeder. I hadn't put it together when the picture was taken. Those trays are held by a single piece of wood attached to the studs by French cleats. You can just life the tray assembly out and fill it from the stash in the feed cabinet. It's small enough and at chicken head height, so they are not interested in perching on that station. If you'd like to see a pic of that, just let me know :)
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