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Chickens Bringing Rats?

4/2/2009 9:45:12 AM

Tags: Norway Rats and Chickens, Keeping Chickens, Poisoning Rats Near Chickens

Hello,

Ever since I got my 3 chickens, who I love, I've had rat problems. I've never had rodents before and now I can't get rid of them. I've used poison and traps. These are HUGE Norway rats that come where the food is! I'm afraid that my chickens are going to eat the poison, even though I try to put in where they don't go.

Monica
Atlanta, Georgia

 

A photo of the Chicken WhispererDear Monica,

I'm sorry you are having a rat problem. This is nothing new to chicken owners, and we all handle this problem differently. There is only one reason why the rats are there, and that's food. First let's talk about food storage. The only container that I have found that will keep rats out is a galvanized metal trash bin. You can find these at your local hardware store. If you have a raccoon/opossum problem as well you can bungee the lids closed to keep them out. A large heavy rock works pretty well too!

Be careful not to spill food when you’re filling the chicken feeders because that will attract the rats right to the source. I know this is easier said than done. I know that we are all taught to keep a constant supply of food available for the chickens. If this constant supply is not kept inside a rat-proof coop at all times (and who has one of these?) then you're going to have some problems. Also, try not to feed the chickens in the yard by throwing food on the ground for them to scratch at. This is just asking for trouble when it comes to rats.

Many rats dig under coop walls and fencing to access the food. One solution for this problem is to dig a small trench (8-10 inches deep) around your coop where the food is located, and bury pieces of tin roofing material cut to size so the rats can't dig under. Hardware cloth nailed or stapled under and around your coop works well too.

One product that a friend was telling me about just this week is called Tom Cat Poison. You mix this poison with water and put it in a one quart chicken waterer. Once your chickens are safely secure in their coop at night set the Tom Cat Poison out for the rats to drink. Then remove the Tom Cat Poison in the morning before you let the chickens back out of the coop for the day. This will dramatically reduce your rat population.

If it takes just feeding your chickens once a day, and giving them just enough food to eat, and no leftovers you may have to start doing this. Norway rats have been known to jump as high as 8 feet so keep this in mind as well when storing food.

I'm sure there are many other ways to control rats around your chickens, and maybe some of our readers can tell us what's worked for them. Good luck, and thank you for your question.

Chicken Whisperer



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Post a comment below.

 

Al
11/15/2011 10:41:46 PM
Here is a solution, only $50 for a rat proof chicken feeder: http://thecarpentershop.net/mediumplywoodchickenfeeder.html

Al
10/1/2011 9:10:41 PM
I had a problem with rats and mice too in my small chicken pen. I looked at the metal rat proof feeders, way too expensive, so I built one for myself. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gGyjYt1jWmY I'm selling them on ebay now or you can order them direct. Not much money in them but they are sorely needed if cities are going to allow chickens in backyards.

Grandma Dorothy
9/18/2009 10:54:46 PM
This comment is about fleas and mites and ticks. Recently I heard about killing fleas etc. with table salt sprinkled on dogs bedding, it is supposed to dehydrate the critter hence killing it. Why would that not work with chickens? Salt is considerably less expensive than poisons and certainly less destructive. Does anyone have any comments as to if this will work? Why and how well? Thank you. Grandma Dorothy

Aubry
9/6/2009 4:18:47 PM
We had a problem with rats for quite a while in our fixed chicken coop. It's large enough that we just couldn't cover the entire thing with wire mesh to keep them out. We ended up changing our feeding practice to outside only in the chicken run. It's a shared run with the dog who patrols during the day to keep the chickens safe. We haven't had any rat problems since and our dog couldn't be happier having a full time job!

Martha Boyd_1
9/4/2009 2:12:50 PM
I moderate the Chicago Chicken Enthusiasts google group, over 115 members and growing. When the Chicago City Council proposed banning backyard chickens two years ago, rats were among the reasons cited. There are plenty of rats in Chicago where there are no chickens - but we don't want to promote chickens without some answers to concerns about rats. We promote preventive tactics like those described in the article. I have also been trying to get definitive information about the potential for adult garter snakes to eat baby rats -- I'm looking for someone who can share information about garter snakes around chickens AND rats.

Katy F.
7/6/2009 5:32:56 PM
Hi, I have a master's in biology w/ work on my doctorate in animal behavior (mostly horses). I have raised chickens for many years as well as other animals. I have developed by selective breeding a kitty cat that kills only rodents, snakes and bugs and will not kill birds, including chickens. Now, there are three types of domestic cats. One type eats birds and rodents with equal delight. One type just eats birds and is almost worthless for killing pests. The third type naturally knows it is supposed to kill only rodents and snakes and bugs. By selecting for this third and desirable behavior I developed a line of cats that will sit and watch newborn bantam chicks walk right under their noses even if the cats are very hungry and have not been fed yet. They even share their food dishes with the chickens who occasionally are rude and chase the cats out of their own kitty food. My problems with rats or other critters in the chicken feed is absolute zero! Any kitten I have growing up that shows any hunting interest in birds goes to the animal shelter. In a few years, I hope to begin showing these cats which are all colors and hair lenghths at cat shows and want to try to get them registered under the name American Liberty Cats- don't homestead without one. This is without any genetic engineering or messing around in a medical lab, just watching the animals' natural behavior and selecting for desirable behavioral traits. As an aside, I have also trained the chickens to stay inside a two strand elcetric fence even though the fence can't physically stop them at all. The fence was put up to keep horses and goats out of the yard. I trained both the full size chickens and some bantams I was given as chicks. Have a blessed day! Katy in Texas

tomlj75
7/5/2009 9:53:18 PM
we had a problem with little field mice for a while then I got a self setting mouse trap from farm tek it worked great and have seen very few since then

sarahoz
7/4/2009 5:09:29 AM
i believe that there is a feeder that has a platform that opens the feeder when the hen (or 'chook' as we say here in oz) stands on it. it then closes. i wonder if this is rat proof. it is expensive. i only have two hens and they free range my back garden. i only give them small amounts of grain at a time and wild pigeons eat any that is left, right away. i reckon that the girls can go and eat worms and insects if they need more food.

Dave_2
6/15/2009 4:54:38 AM
I had rat problems till i got my new coop from Horizon Structures http://www.horizonstructures.com/coop.asp It is elevated off the ground and you can close it up tight so the rats cant get in!

Chicken Whisperer
4/14/2009 7:32:04 AM
If you would like to use traps but are worried about your chickens getting hurt, here is a way to solve this problem. If you're handy you can build a mouse trap box. Build a small wooden box about 6" high, 12" wide, and 12" long. Hinge the top for easy access. Cut a small hole in one end, and place two dividers inside to create a maze. Place the trap in the last chamber. As stated earlier, bait the traps for two or three days before setting the trap for easy success. Now you can use traps without worring about your chickens getting hurt. * If you're not so handy, a heavy cardboard box can work as well.

Chicken Whisperer
4/4/2009 11:15:08 PM
Quick Tip... If using mouse or rat traps, bait them for three days before you actually set them, so the mice or rats will become comfortable with the trap. Then, it's almost a sure thing once you actually set it! "Early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese." Chicken Whisperer

Chicken Whisperer
4/4/2009 11:06:45 PM
Hey Paul, Thank you for the warm welcome. I'm very honored to be working with such a great publication like Grit Magazine. Rats and mice can and do carry many different diseases. Some are harmful and even fatal to humans and animals. Just like Hank, I too have seen my chickens tear into a small mouse that took a wrong turn in the chicken coop, but chances are better that a chicken will contract one of the diseases from another source, mainly the flea, tick, or mite that contracted the disease from the infected rat or mouse. In most cases, the rat or mouse will go after the easy source of food, which is the leftover food scattered on the ground or head right for the feeder. They also love the remains of broken eggs the hens have accidentally stepped on and broken, but may not bother whole eggs. Yes, even if you have no sign of rats or mice you can still have an infestation of fleas, ticks, and mites. In my experience, dealing with and treating fleas, ticks, and mites is less aggravating and easier than dealing with rats and mice. I’m sure I will have an upcoming blog about treating fleas, ticks, and mites. Again, thank you for the warm welcome. I look forward to working with all of you at Grit Magazine. Chicken Whisperer

Kathy Turcotte
4/4/2009 9:53:36 PM
Yes, I have had a problem in the past with the brown wood rats - my solution did not involve poisons but just a really good few outside barn cats that took care of the problem in no time. The rats have since moved out and headed elsewhere. I do have to share a story though - one morning when I was in the barn of my goats and mini horse I could hear a squeeking and jumping sound in one of the stalls. I crept in and found three small baby rats in the bottom of about 3 inches of water trying their darndest to get out. Well, I am not afraid of domestic rats but even these little guys scared me (fear of jumping on me) - but being the kind being that I am, I could not bear to see them die from exhaustion so I found the pitchfork so I would not have to get too close and managed to unhook the bucket and tip it over outside near the woods. Well, now I truly know what the expression of "looks like a drowned rat" came from. These poor little guys, or gals were so tired they just stood where they were and shook off. I could not help but feel sorry for them and am glad I was there to save them. You know, when they are little, they really are cute! Kathy of the Enchanted Wood http://www.enchantedwoodmusings.blogspot.com Also look for my Grit blog called Musings from the Piney Woods

Hank Will_1
4/3/2009 2:58:16 PM
Paul -- My hens devour wayward mice. I moved a mobile pen this spring and sent several mice scurrying ... it was a mob scene that ended with 8 dead mice and 8 proud hens each trying to outrace an entourage with the prize in their beaks.

Paul Gardener
4/2/2009 4:48:11 PM
Hi, and welcome to the blog C.W. I have a question for you on this topic as it's just reared it's head for me in a sense as well. I don't have rats, At least that I know of. But I do have a small field mouse/mice that are bopping around the coop. I am planning to put out some traps this weekend and hope that will curb any problems. I do keep my food in a galvanized container, and my food container is in the house and is suspended off the ground. (although that doesnt mean a mouse couldn't get to it.) My real question is this. other than them eating the food, are what are the potential problems that they can cause. i.e. disease, biting, egg damage? Any info is appreciated for my future reference. Thanks in advance and take care. Paul~ http://apaetoday.blogspot.com http://www.grit.com/blogs/blog.aspx?blogid=2340



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