So, you have just built your chicken coop, and now you are thinking about where you should put the chicken feeder and waterer. Should it be inside the coop or outside in the run? Such a question is essential because where you place the feeders and waterers is crucial in running your backyard coop. Of course, chickens need quick access to food and water. Hence, you must ensure that you put the feeder and waterer in strategic positions within or outside the coop.
In my case, I prefer having the feeders and the waterers situated inside the coop because I got a large coop, and it frequently rains at my place. So, mold can develop in the feeders if they often get wet. Besides, feeders outside the coop are sure to draw rats and other animals foraging for food.
Table of Contents
- 1 Should You Put the Feeders Outside or Inside?
- 2 Should You Put the Drinkers Outside or Inside?
- 3 Additional Tips for Setting Up the Feeders and Waterers
- 3.1 Capacity of the Feeders
- 3.2 Preventing Wild Animals from Accessing Chicken Feed
- 3.3 Ease of Maintenance and Cleaning of the Coop
- 3.4 Preventing Birds and Rodents
- 3.5 Using your Coop as a Brooder
- 3.6 Changing Weather and Seasons
- 3.7 Reducing Chicken Droppings inside the Coop
- 3.8 Number of Chicken Feeders
- 4 Conclusion
Should You Put the Feeders Outside or Inside?
If you’re a meticulous chicken keeper, you would carefully consider the pros and cons of situating the feeders outside or inside the coop. Below is a rundown of the upsides and downsides of placing the feeders outside or inside:
As mentioned above, if you keep the feeders inside the chicken coop, you can keep the feed dry despite the inclement weather. If the food gets wet, mold might spoil the feed. Besides, it spurs the chickens to get inside the coop before roosting. In turn, they would be encouraged to stay indoors when roosting, keeping them safe from predators.
On the downside, if you have them indoors, chickens will stay more often inside the coop during the daytime. Besides, they might soil the food with their litter, requiring you to clean the coop more often.
Moreover, predators that attack during nighttime might get drawn to the coop. Rats prowling inside and around the coop can contaminate the food and bring in various diseases that might affect your birds.
Having the feeders outside is not all disadvantageous. In fact, it can encourage chickens to stay outdoors, enabling them to exercise their bones and muscles and get a whiff of fresh air during the daytime. Besides, if chickens are free-range, they could forage for protein-rich food like insects, adding to their protein intake. Similarly, you’ll get enough chance to clean the coop if they often stay outdoors.
On the other hand, having the feeders outside is a big draw for predators and encourages pilferage from these predators during the daytime. Besides, rats, opossums, raccoons, and other predators will prowl around during nighttime, drawn to the feed.
Similarly, the feed might get wet during inclement weather, leading to food spoilage. For this reason, if you intend to set the feeders outdoors, you must ensure that they are inaccessible to predators and sheltered from the rain.
Should You Put the Drinkers Outside or Inside?
Another thing you need to consider is whether you will situate the drinkers outside or inside. To help you decide on this, you can check out the following pros and cons of situating the drinkers outside or inside:
Once chickens descend from their roost in the early morning, they usually drink. Hence, if you set the drinkers inside, they would easily access them and slake their thirst quickly. Besides, water will not likely freeze if they are inside the coop if you’re using a heater.
On the other hand, if it is situated inside, if the waterers drip or spill, they might dampen or wet the beddings and litter, which can also make the cleaning process more challenging.
If the drinkers are outdoors, you can encourage your chickens to engage in outdoor activities and create more room in the coop for other chickens. Besides, outdoor waterers can encourage them to drink more often to slake their thirst and replenish their body fluid during hot weather.
On the downside, outdoor waterers might require you to put the waterers up in sheltered areas. Besides, their drinking water gets exposed to harmful bacteria and algae if you set the drinkers outdoors. Moreover, keeping the water from freezing during winter will be challenging. Furthermore, if you leave the waterers outdoors overnight, they could attract thirsty predators.
Additional Tips for Setting Up the Feeders and Waterers
Your decision on keeping waterers and feeders inside or outside also boils down to several essential factors. Below is a rundown of these crucial factors you need to consider when setting feeders and waterers:
Capacity of the Feeders
The body of a chicken consists of around 50% water. Its eggs constitute approximately 75% or less water. Hence, fresh water supply for chickens is crucial to their health and well-being. Chickens can drink up to two cups of water daily, depending on their sizes. Besides, during hot weather, they might double their water intake.
Hence, if you got a five-gallon waterer and ten average-sized chickens, they could consume the five gallons of water in just four days. Chicks or bantams, however, might require less water and food.
So, when selecting a waterer, you should carefully consider its capacity and the required refilling frequency. Besides, having multiple waterers and feeders will be best to allow all your chickens to access food and water simultaneously.
Preventing Wild Animals from Accessing Chicken Feed
Another major factor that could prod you to keep the feeders and waterers inside is other domestic animals within your compound. If you got goats, they would readily access outdoor feeders and gobble up the feed within several minutes.
Goats, of course, are notorious for eating chicken feed. If you got domestic animals, you might as well decide to keep the feeders indoors.
Ease of Maintenance and Cleaning of the Coop
If you’re not a full-time raiser of chickens, you might find maintaining and keeping the chicken coop clean eating up so much of your time. You will also notice that if you keep the waterers inside the coop, they will spill and drip, wetting the litter, eventually making cleaning the mess more challenging.
Chickens can easily tip over the waterers, dousing in every part of the chickens’ bedding. Besides, a damp coop becomes an easy breeding ground for bacteria and other pathogens that could make your chickens sick. So, deciding to transfer waterers outdoors becomes a must for you.
Preventing Birds and Rodents
Another big challenge when you have poultry is how to keep birds and rodents from eating and accessing the feeders. These birds and rodents might harbor harmful bacteria and viruses that could infect your chickens.
Even if you fortify your coop and make it impervious to rodent attacks, rodents will still get access into the run and gobble up the chicken feed. They would eat the feed voraciously, depriving your chickens of the needed nutrients, besides making your feed budget balloon.
So, you might as well decide to position the chicken feed inside the coop to prevent rodents and wild birds from accessing the feed.
Using your Coop as a Brooder
If you use your coop as a brooder, setting the feeder and the waterer inside the coop will be best. The reason is quite apparent—the chicks can never get out of the coop to search for food and water. So, keeping the feed and water near them will be best.
Changing Weather and Seasons
Another factor you need to consider when setting the feeders and waterers inside or outside is the changing weather. During rainy days and winter, chickens will likely spend more hours inside the coop. Hence, it is reasonable to position the feeders and waterers inside the coop.
Besides, outdoor waterers will probably have frozen water during winter. Moreover, snow might dampen the feeders making it difficult for chickens to access food. Plus, the damp feed will likely develop molds.
Reducing Chicken Droppings inside the Coop
You would indeed want to reduce chicken droppings inside the coop. If such is your priority, you might decide to put the feeders and waterers outside to encourage chickens to poop outside. Besides, chickens will likely poop inside the coop if they spend more time inside.
Since the feed and water are a big draw for chickens, placing the feeders and waterers outside will draw the chickens out. With fewer droppings inside, you will seldom replace or clean the litter beds.
Number of Chicken Feeders
Another factor you need to consider is the number of feeders you need to install. There is no rule regarding the number of feeders you can install for your chickens. But you can set up several feeders to give all your chickens access to food.
Some hens might be unforgiving to the naïve chickens and want to have the whole feeder for themselves. So, to cater to the shy and naïve chickens, you can put another feeder some distance from the main feeder.
Therefore, observing your flock while they feed is crucial to determining whether you need extra feeders for your birds.
Many flock raisers would likely keep their feeders outdoors because the starter coops they bought afford not much room inside for their feeders. So, instead of setting the feeders and waterers indoors, they put them inside a sheltered area outside the coop, protecting them from rain and predators. Yet, if you want to set the feeders and waterers indoors, you can still do it by selecting small waterers and feeders that you can mount onto the coop’s walls.
You can also move the waterers and feeders outdoors and return them indoors during nighttime. Nevertheless, you should be prompt in bringing the feeders and coopers indoors because chickens no longer eat or drink when darkness comes. Besides, chickens would eat and drink once they wake up, which is the first thing they do after waking up. So, it will be best to be prompt in bringing in the feeders and waterers during the first hour of the day.