It may appear simple to add feed inside the chicken feeder and let your chickens enjoy the food. But do you know where to put the chicken feeder? Should you keep it inside the chicken coop or outside the coop? Some new chicken keepers might be confused about choosing a perfect spot.
You can put the chicken feeder inside the coop if chickens are brooding and allow them to continuously enjoy the food during extreme weather conditions. Keeping the feeders outside the house is also okay if the chicken home is small, you raise pastured chickens, or you avoid dampness problems.
When Should You Put The Chicken Feeder Inside The Chicken Coop?
Why not make your chicken coop more functional by putting the chicken feeder outside the chicken coop?
There are some problems chickens will face if you keep the food container outside the flock house.
The followings are the main reasons why you should keep chicken feeders inside the chicken coop.
01. Protecting Feed From Birds And Rats
One of the most common reasons behind keeping chicken feeders inside the chicken coop is to protect the chicken feed from wild birds, rats, and other predators.
They often visit if the feeder the kept outside. Apart from stealing and spilling food, wild birds can spread disease to backyard chickens.
New studies found that many spread Avian Influenza, Exotic Newcastle disease, Mycoplasmosis, Fowl Cholera, etc.
Your chickens may become sick when they eat the food that wildlife birds have already pecked.
Moreover, there are many disease-carrying rodents and rats. They may transmit the bacteria Salmonellosis into your chicken feed.
Your flocks will get attacked by Salmonella. It may cause blood poisoning, diarrhea, and sudden death, especially in smaller chickens.
02. Using The Coop As Brooder
Can a few days-old baby chicks walk several feet to access food and water? Most probably, not!
Keeping the chicken feeder and waterer inside the coop is necessary when you use the chicken coop as a brooder.
Baby chicks need a constant source of fresh feed and clean water. They need both in large amounts.
It supports their optimal growth and makes their bone stronger.
03. A Great Choice For Extreme Weather
Will you prefer to walk for several minutes to get food access outside in the winter or rainy season? Surely NOT! The same goes for chickens.
Keeping the chicken feeder and waterer inside the coop is a good rule of thumb if your living location has long-lasting winter and rainy seasons.
Flocks won’t need to come out during extreme weather conditions. They don’t need to starve for hours.
Your featured friends can eat whenever they feel like it. But keeping the feeder outside will be challenging for your chickens.
They will have to wait until the rain or ice storm stops. Birds may become weak if it continues for days.
04. Great Protection Against Domestic Animals
Do you have goats, pigs, or horses in your backyard? They may eat the chicken feed if it is available nearby.
Keeping chicken feeders inside the chicken coop will prevent them from eating the food.
Pigs and goats can safely eat chicken feed. However, overeating may cause diarrhea and bloat.
On the contrary, it is not a safe choice for horses because it does not meet the nutritional needs of horses.
They may have various diseases such as colic, laminitis, severe choking, etc.
When Should You Put The Chicken Feeder Outside The Chicken Coop?
Keeping chicken feeders inside the coop is not always the best choice.
In some cases, putting the food container outside the flock house is better, especially in the free-range area.
Here is why you should set up the food container outside the chicken coop.
01. Lack Of Space Inside The Coop
How large your chicken coop is? Are you raising a good number of flocks in a small room?
Can it accommodate a few chicken feeders and waterers properly? If not, you want to keep the chicken feeders outside the coop.
Avoid overcrowding the chicken coop. Otherwise, it may lead to injury, feather pecking, and aggressive behavior among chickens.
Keeping chicken feeders outside will save space in your chicken coop. They will have more room to wander around.
02. Minimal Visits Of Rodents
Rodents have an increased sense of smell.
They are highly attracted to chicken feed and often seek opportunities to steal food, cover, and water.
Even if you make the chicken coop rodent-proof, they will come around.
These small mammals need slightly more than a ½-inch gap to enter your chicken coop.
Keeping the chicken feeder outside will protect your feather friends from unwanted diseases spreading.
However, you must use durable and automatic chicken feeders to prevent them from biting or pecking the food.
03. Reduce Dampness
Chickens often poop when eating their feed. A fresh layer of chicken manure contains about 75% moisture.
You can guess how much Dampness it will develop from dozens of droppings from the chickens. It will lead to mold and fungi problems like aspergillosis.
Besides, keeping the chicken feeders inside the coop gives them more accessibility to the food. It may cause overheating problems.
A lot of chicken excrement will be near the chicken feeder.
It will reduce the food’s freshness. Due to closed surroundings, the bad smell of chicken manure droppings will take time to get out.
04. Ideal For Pastured Chickens
Are you raising your chicken naturally? It is a sustainable agriculture technique where flocks are raised on a pasture or outdoors on open fields.
Flocks spend their days pecking and foraging outside. They roam around freely outdoors and enjoy various natural foods through exploring.
It is a good rule of thumb to keep chicken feeders and waterers outside the chicken coop for pastured chickens.
They are used to eating from outside. These birds may not agree to consume the chicken feed from the outside as it is not their natural behavior.
05. Fewer Hassles Of Cleaning
A chicken poops around 12-15 times a day but in small quantities. They do it roughly every 30 minutes.
An adult chicken expels around 150 to 160 g of droppings daily. Keeping chicken feeders inside the coop may make the flock house dirtier.
Flocks will visit the house several times to eat. They will poop multiple times while eating.
You will have to clean the coop floor and nearby areas more frequently. This will increase the cleaning session.
But putting the chicken feeder in a free-range area outside the coop will discourage chooks from visiting the chicken feeder repeatedly.
Should You Put The Chicken Feeders On The Coop Floor?
Setting up feeders off the ground is a solid rule of thumb.
There should be around 100-150 mm space from the feeder bottom and coop floor.
But why should you not keep the chicken feeder on the ground?
Hanging or securing the food container at a mounted level prevents food spoilage and unwanted wastage.
Keeping the chicken feeder at beak level is a better practice to disallow birds from tossing the feed from side to side and all over the coop floor.
However, the food container should not be mounted too high. Otherwise, smaller chickens will struggle to access the food.
Keep the height minimal but prevent chickens from bending down on the feeders.
It will help you to create a balanced atmosphere to avoid food waste and let flocks enjoy the food.
Where To Keep The Chicken Feeders Inside The Chicken Coop?
A chicken coop has many accessories, such as nesting boxes, roosting bars, fans, etc.
You have to find the optimal position to keep the chicken feeders.
Should You Put The Chicken Feeder Near The Nesting Boxes?
If your hens are brooding, keeping the chicken feeder and waterer near the nesting boxes is better.
Female chickens will spend a lot of time and sit on a clutch of eggs to hatch them.
They only leave the nesting boxes to eat and relieve themselves.
If the feeder and waterers are accessible from the nearby area, they will save time.
Should You Put The Chicken Feeder Near The Roosting Bars?
It is a good rule of thumb to avoid keeping chickens’ feeders directly under the roosting bars.
Chooks poop a lot while roosting at night. The feeders will get dirty from their droppings.
If the feeder has an open-style system, you can imagine how dirty will be the chicken feeder.
Flocks will be discouraged from eating food due to the bad smell of chicken manure.
Keeping your chicken feeders in a corner while maintaining an appropriate distance from the chicken nesting boxes and roosting bars is best.
It will help you create a balanced environment inside the chicken coop.
Should You Put The Chicken Feeder Near Windows?
Most chicken keepers prefer installing windows on the coop’s north side to ensure better airflow.
The coop window should be at least 2 feet long by 1 foot tall (or 2 Square feet).
You can set up the feeder below the windows to let a good amount of wind enter.
Make sure not too much air gets inside the chicken coop. Otherwise, dust will be added to the chicken feed, making them unhealthy for eating.
Reconsidering the decision is important if predators are likely to visit through windows.
You can make the windows predator-proof while ensuring enough airflow inside the chicken coop.
Should You Put The Chicken Feeder And Waterer Close To Each Other?
An adult flock drinks around a pint of water a day. It can be approximately 0.5 liters daily.
They usually eat 100 – 150g or 4 to 6 ounces of daily feed.
Compared to chicken feeders, waterers need to be kept in a more elevated space to avoid contamination and water spillage.
Most expert chicken keepers recommended maintaining around 6 inches above the ground space for setting up a chicken waterer.
Putting the chicken feeder very close to the waterer may have water spilling issues. The chicken feed may become wet and inappropriate for eating.
Avoid keeping the chicken feeder in one corner and the waterer in another. Flocks may struggle to find them out if you suddenly change their location.
Do You Need To Bring The Chicken Feeder Inside The Coop At Night?
Chickens usually eat two meals a day: one in the early morning (6-7 AM) and another in the evening.
Flocks don’t eat any feed at night. They spend the night resting and roosting.
Chooks make their crop full before going back to sleep. It prevents them from feeling hungry at night.
If you have set up the chicken feeder outside the chicken coop, you don’t need to bring them back at night.
Flocks will start eating after waking up in the early morning. Just make sure there is enough feed inside the feeder.
Bonus Tips For Putting Chicken Feeders
- Inspect your chickens’ behavior to determine whether they prefer eating inside or outside the chicken coop.
- If the weather is too extreme often, use a portable chicken feeder. It will help you bring the container inside whenever the demand arises.
- Clean the chicken feeders at least once a week. You can use a natural disinfectant, such as vinegar, for better cleaning.
- Make sure the feeder is made from safe and food-grade materials to ensure optimal health safety for chickens.
- Train your flocks properly when introducing a newly-designed chicken feeder.
- Track your flock’s movements and see how much food they eat daily. Make sure the feeder never goes empty.
- Avoid putting too much food at a time. Frequent refilling is a good practice to let your flock enjoy the fresh feed.
Are you still wondering where to put the chicken feeder? You can keep it both inside and outside, depending on the situation.
Consider all the consequences of setting up the chicken feeder inside and outside the chicken coop. Go for the best option that makes it more convenient for the chickens’ well-being.
You may put 1-2 feeders both inside and outside the coop and read all scenarios to make a better, well-informed decision.