Water & Feed inside coop, inside run, or both?

elisaliv

In the Brooder
5 Years
Oct 3, 2014
12
0
29
Hi I'm new on BYC. My husband and I decided to get chickens when we buy our own property. This won't be until after I graduate as a Respiratory Therapist and he retires from the Air Force in Dec '15. Yes that's 14 months away but I like to research and plan everything in advance so we will be plenty prepared. Hubby says I'm obsessed with chickens. We will be moving to the Knoxville, TN area. We plan on buying around 100 acres which hopefully 30 acres will be pasture. We currently have two horses, a dog and cat. We are planning to get 6 chickens to provide us our daily breakfast eggs and extras for baking or friends. Or the dog lol.

OK so based on these plans:

We plan on building a coop with a run like the "Wichita Cabin Coop" and they will be free range chickens
except at night when we let them in their coop.

We plan on using a bucket with water nipples.

We plan on using a feeder like this: https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/...te-5-gallon-25-feed-bucket-feeder-for-about-3

Here are a few questions I have:

1. Should we lock the run and coop up during the day while they are free ranging?

2. When we let them in their coop for the night, should they be locked in the coop or should they also have access to the run?

3. Should they have water and feed in the coop, in the run or both?

4. Will they eat much feed after free ranging the whole day?

5. Should we provide water outside the coop/run while they are free ranging?

Ok that's all I can think of for now.

Thanks!
Elisa
 
Last edited:

appps

Crowing
8 Years
Aug 29, 2012
4,784
647
321
Australia
Here are a few questions I have:

   1.  Should we lock the run and coop up during the day while they are free ranging?

No they need to be able to get in to lay eggs

   2.  When we let them in their coop for the night, should they be locked in the coop or should they also have access to the run?

You can allow them in the run if it is totally predator proof but that is often much harder to achieve with a wire run than a coop so most people fortify the coop and lock them in there of a night.

   3.  Should they have water and feed in the coop, in the run or both?

I have water in the coop and food in the run. Mainly because its a pain to go into the coop to cover their food to keep mice out each night.

   will they eat as much
Not as much as non free range but they still need that top up.

   5.  Should we provide water outside the coop/run while they are free ranging
They will go home if thirsty but in hot weather I have extra containers here and there in the shade.
 
Last edited:

pdirt

Songster
6 Years
May 11, 2013
1,609
212
198
Eastern WA
Hi I'm new on BYC. My husband and I decided to get chickens when we buy our own property. This won't be until after I graduate as a Respiratory Therapist and he retires from the Air Force in Dec '15. Yes that's 14 months away but I like to research and plan everything in advance so we will be plenty prepared. Hubby says I'm obsessed with chickens. We will be moving to the Knoxville, TN area. We plan on buying around 100 acres which hopefully 30 acres will be pasture. We currently have two horses, a dog and cat. We are planning to get 6 chickens to provide us our daily breakfast eggs and extras for baking or friends. Or the dog lol.

OK so based on these plans:

We plan on building a coop with a run like the "Wichita Cabin Coop" and they will be free range chickens
except at night when we let them in their coop.

We plan on using a bucket with water nipples.

We plan on using a feeder like this: https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/...te-5-gallon-25-feed-bucket-feeder-for-about-3

Here are a few questions I have:

Welcome to BYC! Chickens are just loads of fun, I think you'll like it.

Aaaps answered the first two well, here's my two cents on the others...


3. Should they have water and feed in the coop, in the run or both?

Water in the coop can possibly increase humidity in the coop, which is not ideal, especially during winter months. Note that the vertical nipples dribble when in use, the horizontal ones do not. If I were to put a waterer in the coop, it would be a horizontal nipple bucket.

4. Will they eat much feed after free ranging the whole day?

Depends on how well they free range. Some people block access to food after their morning breakfast and only allow access again after they have free ranged all day, about an hour before sunset...this will cut down on feed usage. With only a few chickens like you will have, it will be fine, but with lots of chickens like we have (22), we leave the feed available all day during free range so the chickens low on the pecking order get enough to eat, too.

5. Should we provide water outside the coop/run while they are free ranging?

I would, if it gets hot there. Doesn't Tennessee get pretty hot in summer? Our outside "waterer" is a bathtub-sized fish pond. There's no fish in it, but I do fill it up with water. It has a ramp down to the water, so they can't fall in. Just before the mosquitos hatch from the pond, I drain it, wait for the larvae to die and refill it the next day.

Also...6 chickens is not likely to give you breakfast everyday for two people (assuming 2 eggs/person/day), some for baking, friends and your dog. If you only want to bake/friends/dog once a month, it might work. They don't lay every day... and some lay more regularly than others. They can also get stressed, go into molt or go broody and won't lay eggs in those cases, sometimes for weeks or even months. Many breeds don't lay during the darker days of winter, or at least very little, unless you artificially trick their bodies to think the days are longer by providing a timed light. I'm speaking in general terms here, you might read up on specific traits of your desired breeds to find out more, if you haven't already (broodiness, free ranging, egg laying, etc). You may only regularly get 4 eggs a day and then that's your breakfast. If you're set on giving them to friends and your dog, you might want to consider at least a couple more hens. And a bigger coop, if you need it (I'm not familiar with the coop you mentioned).

We found if we free-ranged all day, we ended up with far less eggs (they're using energy to range rather than to produce eggs), or sometimes found stashes of eggs outside and had no idea how long they'd been there. Now we keep them locked up in the coop/run until about noon, as by then they have usually laid their eggs for the day. As much as we liked the romantic idea of allowing the chickens to free-range all day long, we want them to "pay the rent", in the form of eggs!

Also, consider now if these chickens will be pets to you or if you ever plan to eat them when they stop laying due to age. Some people raise them as pets and after 3-4 years, they stop laying or lay very infrequently and then they want to replace the chicken with one that will lay eggs regularly. Then they are forced with trying to find someone who will "rescue" the chicken by taking it on as a non-laying pet, or the difficult decision to butcher the beloved "Daisy" and put her on the dinner table. We love our chickens, but we were quite clear with ourselves when we began that they would never be pets to us...they're food. It's a different kind of love that we have for our dog, whom we would never eat. For us, and many, it can be really difficult to butcher a pet, but not (as much) an animal that was never a pet to begin with.

Ok that's all I can think of for now.

Thanks!
Elisa
 

elisaliv

In the Brooder
5 Years
Oct 3, 2014
12
0
29
5. Should we provide water outside the coop/run while they are free ranging?

I would, if it gets hot there. Doesn't Tennessee get pretty hot in summer? Our outside "waterer" is a bathtub-sized fish pond. There's no fish in it, but I do fill it up with water. It has a ramp down to the water, so they can't fall in. Just before the mosquitos hatch from the pond, I drain it, wait for the larvae to die and refill it the next day.


I'm not quite sure how hot it gets in Tennessee. I know it's not as hot as it here where we are now in Vegas lol.
tongue.png
But I will figure something out if it is real hot.

Also...6 chickens is not likely to give you breakfast everyday for two people (assuming 2 eggs/person/day), some for baking, friends and your dog. If you only want to bake/friends/dog once a month, it might work. They don't lay every day... and some lay more regularly than others. They can also get stressed, go into molt or go broody and won't lay eggs in those cases, sometimes for weeks or even months. Many breeds don't lay during the darker days of winter, or at least very little, unless you artificially trick their bodies to think the days are longer by providing a timed light. I'm speaking in general terms here, you might read up on specific traits of your desired breeds to find out more, if you haven't already (broodiness, free ranging, egg laying, etc). You may only regularly get 4 eggs a day and then that's your breakfast. If you're set on giving them to friends and your dog, you might want to consider at least a couple more hens. And a bigger coop, if you need it (I'm not familiar with the coop you mentioned).


I really don't bake a whole lot so I think we will have enough. Just figured any extras could goto the dog or friends if there were some we wouldn't get eaten before they spoiled. But we can always get another couple hens like you say. I think I'm going to be addicted to them haha.
big_smile.png
Hubby already thinks I'm obsessed because I'm doing so much research on them lol.

We found if we free-ranged all day, we ended up with far less eggs (they're using energy to range rather than to produce eggs), or sometimes found stashes of eggs outside and had no idea how long they'd been there. Now we keep them locked up in the coop/run until about noon, as by then they have usually laid their eggs for the day. As much as we liked the romantic idea of allowing the chickens to free-range all day long, we want them to "pay the rent", in the form of eggs!


I will have to see how things work out. I will be working 3 - 12 hour shifts so on the 4 days I have off I could leave them in till noon or so but on the other days they would have to be let out much earlier. Or at least their coop door opened so they could leave when they felt like it.


Also, consider now if these chickens will be pets to you or if you ever plan to eat them when they stop laying due to age. Some people raise them as pets and after 3-4 years, they stop laying or lay very infrequently and then they want to replace the chicken with one that will lay eggs regularly. Then they are forced with trying to find someone who will "rescue" the chicken by taking it on as a non-laying pet, or the difficult decision to butcher the beloved "Daisy" and put her on the dinner table. We love our chickens, but we were quite clear with ourselves when we began that they would never be pets to us...they're food. It's a different kind of love that we have for our dog, whom we would never eat. For us, and many, it can be really difficult to butcher a pet, but not (as much) an animal that was never a pet to begin with.


Hubby and I spoke about this. I mentioned to him that they stop laying eggs at age 3 or 4. He said that's when we will eat them. I said but they will have names and I will be sad. Knowing me they will have names but I will hopefully not get too attached to them. I've never had farm animals, only "pets" like dogs cats and now horses.

Thanks for the info!

Elisa
 

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