How to Keep Chickens Without Encouraging Rats
One thing that often discourages would-be chicken keepers from taking the plunge is rats. If you feel the same, we have great news: rats are NOT inevitable! There are so many things you can do to prevent them from making an appearance.
Prevention is Better Than Cure
Rats need three things to survive: food, water and shelter. If you can remove any of these from your garden, they will be discouraged. Piles of rubbish, for example, make a perfect habitat for rodents.
Any feed that isn't being used needs to be stored away. Rats can easily chew through plastic, so use a galvanised metal bin with a snug-fitting or locking lid. If possible, site the bin in an outbuilding or on a solid area like a paving slab. Try to get a bin large enough to fit the whole feeder in overnight if required.
A feeder suspended from a string will sway, and this 'instability' prevents chickens from climbing on the feeders and flicking food onto the floor. Spilt food is perfect for rodents so tie a loop in the string and at dusk, hook the feeder high off the floor.
Only feed a day's ration at a time. Large hybrid hens will eat around 150g of layers pellets a day, and bantams will eat considerably less. If you calculate the amount of feed your chickens will consume in a day and ONLY supply that amount, you will be unlikely to have a surplus for rodents to find.
We've all seen the paintings of young ladies scattering corn from a giant bowl to a willing flock of birds at their feet. This method is all well and good on a yard with a hard surface where the feed can't hide, but when thrown on grass, it's easily missed by your intended recipients.
If you have a feeder that is sited on the ground and holds 'spare' feed (like most hoppers), lift the feeders at dusk and place them into a metal bin or store indoors until morning. Never put a feeder into your chickens' coop, as it'll encourage rats into the coop. If you live somewhere dry, remove water too.
Raised Chicken Coops
Rodents LOVE to nest under traditional chicken coops; they have easy access to lots of lovely bedding material, food and water - it's like a Hilton Hotel for rodents! By choosing a coop with legs, like our Lodge or Raised coops, you'll remove the perfect environment for rats to thrive.
Certain breeds of dogs and cats are excellent at ensuring any rodents that do appear are soon dispatched. However, for obvious reasons, it’s essential that your pet is adequately trained to not turn its attention to your birds.
The Problem With Poison
If you already have a rat problem, however tempting a quick-fix may seem, please do not resort to using poison. Rats can ingest the poison and poop it out in your chickens’ run. Sadly, your birds (or other pets) will succumb if they eat this or a rat that has been killed by the poison.
All rodents have an excellent sense of smell. Peppermint oil, cayenne pepper, black pepper and cloves are abhorrent to rodents so leave voile bags hanging off the coop to deter them, out of reach of your poultry.
Easy-clean, Rodent-resistant Chicken Coops
Nestera offers a range of intelligently designed raised chicken coops made from 100% recycled plastic which provide your hens with a secure home that does not offer easy access to rodents.For more helpful and advice on how to keep your flock happy and healthy, join the Nestera online community here.