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! Read on for 15+ tips for rodent control in the chicken yard and coops!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 coopEliminators

  • 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:
Chemical in Predator Pee Scares the Pee out of Rodents
Detection and avoidance of a carnivore odor by prey
Rodent Control in the Poultry House
Expert Gardener Creates Effective Botanical Rodent Repellent
Natural Rat Deterrent

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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
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Awesome! Happy to help. 🙂

Patti
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Patti

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
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debispeck
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debispeck

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.

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