Rodents and your barn – backyard poultry

reading time: 4 minutes

While you want to keep chickens, you may not want rodents to occasionally be attracted to their feed. Read about Carrie Miller’s methods for dealing with rodent problems in your barn.

Chickens have a dirty little secret they’d rather not talk about. Do you know what it is? They are notoriously messy eaters. Chickens tend to grab feed, take their favorite morsels and knock the rest on the floor. Unfortunately, this causes the perfect habitat for creatures of all kinds. Mice and rats are the first to coexist among Fluffy’s friends. While it is difficult to keep all small rodents away, where you place your enclosure and how you choose to maintain it can help or hinder.

Ground jumps

In my experience, ground barns cause more rodent problems than other types of barns. We thought it would be a great idea to have an indoor coop. Although it was amazing in so many ways, it was a huge mistake on our part. See, our barn has a dirt floor that makes it very easy for ferrets to not only come visit but to set up shop for their ever-growing family. Not so long ago, we noticed that the floor under the barn becomes soft and often crumbles under our feet. Tunnels! There were tunnels under the barn! Not just a little but a lot! After realizing the problem, we began eliminating feed and water each night and setting bait traps each evening. While this method helped a bit, it did not solve the entire problem. After a few months of trying different methods, we gave up and purchased a raised outdoor coop to remove the food source from the coop.

Feed storage

I don’t mean never to leave food out overnight, it really is the root of all evil. Place all feed, treats, and other foods in metal trash cans with airtight lids. We first tried cheap plastic containers but the rodents ate straight through the plastic to get to the tasty meal. Store not only opened bags of feed, but all new bags as well. Placing feed and containers high will not help you when it comes to rodents. These little creatures can easily climb and climb walls.

Clean the floor

Sweep and/or vacuum the bottom of the coop every evening if you can. If not every day as often as possible by a human being. If there is food available, the rodents will find it! No barn you’ve ever seen is 100% rodent proof because the little guys can fit into the tiniest of cracks. They can and will chew on wood and plastic to find themselves an all-you-can-eat buffet and a cozy, warm sleeping place. A piece of cloth with smaller holes can help keep intruders out.

Up above and far away

Have their cages at least 18 inches off the floor if possible. While it may not deter every mouse, it will help against mice. Mice chew it up! Oh my God, they give me the wills. They reproduce and grow so rapidly that a rat can turn into an infestation in a matter of weeks or months. If you see one mouse, you probably have at least 10 that you haven’t seen. They are smart! If you hit one then they learn your game quickly and so you have to switch your tactics often.

The brown rat (Rattus norvegicus) is the most abundant and widespread mammal.

Why are rats a concern?

Why don’t we just get along? Because rodents can carry many diseases that are harmful to both birds and humans.

For more on rat-borne diseases, the geographic regions most affected and the basics of cleaning up after rodents, see Why are rats such a concernco-written by Carrie Miller and Carla Tilghman (Chicken Community Editor).

Carey Miller He has a do-it-yourself website/blog full of fun chicken projects. Her family raises all-natural chickens with no antibiotics, no drugs, and no pesticides in Kinsman, Ohio. Find her at Miller Micro Farm, or follow her on Facebook, Instagram, or Instagram Twitter.

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