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Tips & Tricks

 

Tips & tricks to help you with your journey keeping backyard chickens.

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How to rat-proof the chicken coop

How to.., Pests

Did you know, a pair of rats can produce up to 2,000 descendants per year? This means a couple of rats around your chicken coop can quickly lead to a rat infestation if it goes unchecked. They are known to be carriers of diseases such as fleas, mites, plague, and salmonella.

Rats are creatures of the night. If you’re seeing them during the day, you have a major problem. Either you’re looking at an infestation or they’re starving and so desperate for food they’ll do anything to get it.

Rats can squeeze through spaces as small as around 2cm. Some can even squeeze through the holes in chicken wire. This fact combined with chewing is why the chicken wire is not your best defense. Unless you have a really high fence with very small holes, rats will either go through the wire apertures or even jump the fence.

They will also eat practically anything, including your garden veggies and your livestock. Rats will kill and eat baby chicks and in desperation will also attack grown chickens.

Prevention is better than cure. So – of course, use good husbandry to keep your coop and run clean and your flock safe and healthy, but always be vigilant as well. No matter how tight a coop you run, don’t assume that you won’t have vermin, whether you live in the countryside or in the city.

The two main things in a chicken run which attract rats are chicken feed as well as chicken droppings. The more unwelcoming you can make your environment to them the more likely they are to move somewhere else.

How to get rid of rats in the chicken coop:

Clean the coop

Rats love to live and hide in cluttered areas. Get everything up off the ground. Put it on shelves or hang it from walls to discourage rats from making a home there.

Make sure the grass around your coop is always cut neatly, and remove any scrap timber or large shrubs that are near the area. Throw away empty feed bags or store them away for future use—don’t let them pile up outside the door.

The more unwelcoming you can make your environment to them the more likely they are to move somewhere else.

Don’t leave feed on the ground

The number one reason you have rats is that you’re feeding them. Rats love an easy dinner and leaving grain laying around is like an open buffet for them. Make sure to clean up any grain you or your hens may have spilled during the day before nightfall.

Chicken feed should always be stored in a covered metal container. Heavy, industrial drums that have been thoroughly cleaned are best at keeping out rodents.Make sure the container’s cover fits tight; otherwise, rats and mice will scale walls to jump into the container.

Removing water and feed trays from the coop can be a good way to keep rats away. Just place them back in the coop first thing in the morning for your hens. Or invest in a treadle feeder.

Collect eggs frequently

Rats love to eat chicken eggs. To avoid this make sure that you remove the eggs from the coop every day. Never leave eggs in the coop overnight.

Keep small chicks inside at night

Desperate rats will do anything for food, including killing and eating a baby chick.

Protect your chicks from rats by keeping them in your home at night, when rats are most active.

Traps

If you find yourself with a rodent infestation, the best remedy is to physically remove them.

Traditional snap traps can be very effective for both mice and rats; however, you will want to keep them out of reach of your chickens. Alternatively, our mouse snap traps and humane catchers are safe for your flock.

Rodents naturally concentrate their travels against walls, so the traps or stations should be placed in their natural line of travel. Humane cages and safe traps can be placed around the perimeter of the coop to catch rats looking for a meal. Leave them there for several days un-baited until the rodents get used to them. Rats are cautious creatures and won’t go near something new and unknown.

Please never resort to using glue traps. This is hands down the most inhumane and cruel way to get rid of a pest. Even worse, glue traps usually kill other wildlife as well.

Poisons

Poisons are often a last resort for the chicken keeper and should be used with caution around your livestock or poultry.

Using poison to get rid of rats could lead to bigger problems down the road. If a poisoned rodent were to die anywhere out in the open, it could be eaten by your chickens, your cat, your dog, or neighborhood wildlife. This means poisoning the rat can be poisoning other animals as well. To reduce this risk, make sure to remove any dead rodents as soon as you see them.

Unfortunately, there are situations where bait is the way to go. Rats multiply very quickly.

Always place poisons in safe bait stations. Make sure the stations are locked in some manner. Many of them snap shut and require a tool to open, while others need to be locked with a screw or similar fastener. This will keep them from opening and exposing the contents to non-target animals

I prefer poison blocks over pellets, as the blocks can be fastened to the inside of the bait station and are more difficult for rodents to remove. Pellets can easily be removed from the boxes, which is hazardous to your flock.

Hire a professional

If you’ve tried everything you can think of and are still having a rat problem then calling in some professional help is a good idea. They have access to better bait and traps and often know the best place to set them up.

Prevention

When dealing with rats the best way is to keep them out in the first place.

Remember to take a few minutes every day to clean up and spilled feed, keep feed stored in rodent-proof containers and make it as hard as possible for them to get inside your coop.

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