Chicken Coops & Rats!
Securing a Chicken Run
If you are considering keeping Chickens, then one of the things you should know about is Vermin, and how to keep Rats and other vermin/predators away from your Chickens. The fact is that rats in particular will not just eat your chicken feed, but they will also attack and kill young chicks and even older hens that are perhaps out of condition. Rats also spread disease and in no time at all can over-run an area if proper care is not taken to limit or eradicate them altogether.
Chickens and Rats.
- Rats are bad news for any poultry keeper for a number of reasons.
- They eat your feed stuff, contaminating it with droppings in the process.
- They chew and destroy anything they can get their teeth into.
- Rats spread disease (think bubonic plague 13c !), or more recent Weils disease (Leptospirosis).
- They will kill particularly any young chicks they have access to.
To add insult to injury Rats can carry two litters at any one time and so will soon over-run your chicken coop if they are not dealt with.
Keeping Chickens – Secure the area
Permanent chicken runs are different from mobile runs that you are able to move, in that you are able to make them much more secure by dropping the chicken mesh into a trench dug around 12-18 inches into the ground. Make sure that the excess mesh at the bottom of the trench is turned toward you before filling it back in, this deters anything that would attempt to dig down and under the mesh. These precautions are necessary if you desire to build a chicken coop that is secure from predators such as rats, foxes , or even snakes depending on where you live.
The mesh must be of a type with holes no larger that half an inch (12.5 mm) and strong enough gauge depending on the predator that you want to keep out. I would rather spend a few extra dollars on a strong chicken mesh, than come home to find that a fox had broken in and killed all my hens ! It is false economy to build a cheap run at the end of the day.
I would also advise bringing the chicken mesh over the roof area of the run, if it is not already covered. This will prevent aerial attack from hawks or even crows (they will take away chicks), and will also prevent predators like the stoat or Weasel from climbing up and over the top.
Chicken coops – Preventing Rat Infestation.
Chickens and Rats go hand in hand – according to some! However I say that this does not have to be the case, with proper care. To prevent infestation from rats is not ‘rocket science’. At the end of the day, everything must eat to survive and so the simple way to prevent rats becoming a problem is to deny them access to food. Ok, I’ll acknowledge that this is sometimes very difficult, however your best attempt must be made if you are to be effective at all. Here are a few tips you can follow – just common sense really!
Keep all foodstuffs in sturdy (preferably metal) containers with secure lids that must be kept closed when not in use.
Do not over-feed the chickens. This leads to food lying around on the ground that the rats will easily survive on. If you are scattering barley on the ground be sure that you are not overdoing it and that the chickens and not the rats will benefit.
Find and secure any access holes that the rats main gain entry by. I used to break a bottle inside any rat hole I found before filling it back in. Holes in walls etc should be filled with a suitable material such as cement mortar to be sure they do not dig through it again.
A constant program of rat-catching should be adhered to especially if you are in an area prone to them. Do be very careful with any rat poison and be sure to make it accessible only to your intended victims the rats. I usually place it deep within a pipe or some such and make sure that there are no children for example, liable to gain access to it.
Rat traps, poison and chickens do not really mix well – use with caution !