15+ Tips to Control Rodents Around Chicken Coops

A common misconception about chickens is that they attract rodents, but the truth is that rodents are attracted to food and water, not chickens. Rodents are a nuisance and a hazard for for backyard chicken-keepers and their flocks for many reasons and controlling them requires a multi-faceted approach.
A common misconception about chickens is that they attract rodents, but the truth is that rodents are attracted to food and water, not chickens. Rodents are a nuisance and a hazard for for backyard chickens and controlling them requires a multi-faceted plan of attack, so let’s roll one out!
Chickens do not attract rodents, food and water attract mice and rats.
PROBLEMS RODENTS CAUSE
  • they eat chicken feed
  • they eat eggs and baby chicks (rats)
  • they contaminate feed, water & coops with droppings, urine and hair
  • they are carriers of lice, fleas and mites and other parasites
  • they can transmit an estimated 50 possible diseases, not the least of which is salmonella (fleas carried by rats were responsible for killing an estimated 100,000 people in the Great Plague of London in 1665)
  • they can damage yards by burrowing and coops and wires by chewing
  • they can injure chickens (rats are capable of chewing toes off roosting birds at night)
  • they create stress for chickens, which often results in a drop in egg production
Burrow dug by some type of critter, could have been a rat, although there was no other evidence to support that theory.
(Burrow dug by some type of critter, could have been a rat,
although there was no other evidence to support that theory.)
Grandpa's Feeders

CONTROL STRATEGIES

ELIMINATE FOOD
  • Remove or securely cover feeders at night.
  • Modify feeders to prevent beaking-out of feed. Adding dividers or chicken wire to the base of the feeder can accomplish this objective.
  • Clean up spilled feed. If chickens beak-out food onto the floor from the feeder, clean it up before nightfall when nocturnal marauders are active. Purchase feed pellets instead of crumbles as they are more difficult to beak-out and easier to clean up than crumbles.
  • Use a treadle-style feeder, which requires the chicken’s weight standing on a pedal to open it.
  • Never leave eggs in the coop overnight. Eggs left in nest boxes are a dinner invitation to rats.
  • Store feed in a galvanized container with a lid securely in place. Rats can chew through feed bags, plastic bins and wood as easily as opening a bag of potato chips.
  • Store feed away from the coop if possible.
A poultry nipple watering system keeps water free from roden droppings.
Eliminate Easily Accessible Water Sources
Rodents will walk through and drink from traditional waterers, contaminating them with their waste and disease-carrying mouths, feet and fur.  Remove traditional waterers at night or, better yet, switch to poultry nipple waterers and keep the chickens’ water supply disease-free.
Hardware cloth dug into the ground prevents digging predators from gaining access to the coop.
(A digging predator much bigger than a rat was deterred by the hardware cloth buried 12″ into the ground around the run.)

Secure the Coop & Run
  • Install hardware cloth all around the coop and run to prevent access by predators and pests.
  • Bury hardware cloth 12″ into the ground all the way around the coop and run to deter burrowing underneath.
Repellents
A good barn cat is worth its weight in gold as a mouser around the chicken coop

Eliminators

  • Clearly, poisons and most traps are far too dangerous to use around chickens, but rodents can be eliminated naturally by employing a good barn cat around the coop and run.
  • An old-fashioned mixture of equal parts cornmeal and plaster of Paris kills rodents without toxic chemicals, but would need to be placed where chickens cannot eat it. Once eaten by rodents, it hardens in their stomachs, killing them. (this seems a rough way to go, I won’t be trying this method)
Rodents can be eliminated from the chicken coop and run with a variety of techniques that are safe for use around chickens.
Sources & further reading:

Comments

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Action Inspections
Guest

Great post! We have been considering getting chickens but concerned about the pest control side of things with 2 young kids and a couple of other pets.

TheChickenChick
Guest

Awesome! Happy to help. 🙂

Patti
Guest

My husband built a version of the cookie tin heater and I haven't had trouble with water freezing all winter. It sets up high enough the Rays can't get in it, but low enough the birds can track it. I think it is a little taller than a cement block.

Thanks Chicken Chick for the idea.

TheChickenChick
Guest
debispeck
Guest

We live where it freezes regularly in the winter. How do you keep your watered from freezing? If you have that problem.
Right now I keep a heated watered that is elevated to keep it clean, but I am sure rodents get in for a.sip.

TheChickenChick
Guest
NewToChickens
Guest

I have a portable coop and went out there today to find a hole under the coop and scratching on the door and frame. As I need to move the coop regularly I didn't put anything under it. I am also rubbish at any DIY!! Should I install something around the coop?

azchristie
Guest

My treadle feeder instructions. First week leave lid completely open so they get the feel of the platform moving. Second week leave lid half open so they get used to the lid moving. Third week set as normal. Second week a lot ate standing beside it, but some pick it up and the others eat from the side till they get used to it. Now a month later they all use it and I am no longer feeding wild birds 50lb of chicken feed a week.

Jj Baker
Guest

I'm so glad you posted this. I had been looking for the feeder instructions but couldn't find them! Now I have it bookmarked!~ Thanks!

Jj Baker
Guest

Does bobcat pee bother the chickens?

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