Most people that own chickens have had a rat problem at one time or another. Through many years of trial by error, I have learned how to keep rats out of a chicken coop. The idea is to make your chicken coop as undesirable of an environment for them to eat, sleep and breed as possible.
Rats will eat your chickens food, chew holes in electrical wires and coop walls, eat baby chicks, leave rat droppings and urine and can pass horrible diseases and parasites to your chickens.
How to Keep Rats Out of a Chicken Coop-13 Easy Ways
1. Close Down the 24 Hour Rat Diner
Don’t leave chicken feed out 24/7. This is an open invitation for rats, mice, raccoons and other predators that are looking for a midnight snack. Close down the 24 hour rat diner and make them have to look elsewhere for some food.
WITHHOLD FOOD FROM RATS
- Remove Food from Coop: If you are having a rat problem, begin to only feed your chickens what they will eat within a given day. The idea is to have a chicken run floor that is not littered with any chicken feed by nightfall. This includes any afternoon treats of chicken scratch and table scraps you may throw out to them.
- Pet Food Bowls: If you have any dogs or cats, bring in any pet food bowls each evening.
- Bird Feeders: Bird feeders can litter bird seed on the ground, attracting rats, mice and other rodents. Consider adding a seed catcher under the feeders.
WITHHOLD WATER FROM RATS
Rats also need water and homeowners provide many sources of it for them, especially if you leave it out 24/7 in your chicken coop.
- Remove Water Source from Coop: Either cover chicken water each evening, dump the water into your garden or water your grass with it. Replace it with fresh water each morning. This may seem time consuming, but if you have a rat problem, it will help to keep them away. Chickens should have access to fresh water each day.
- Sprinklers: Repair any leaking sprinklers.
- Leaky Water Hose: Use plumbers tape or putty to seal the hose sprayer. When you are done using the hose, turn it off to relieve pressure, stopping leaks.
- Pet Water Bowls: Dump pet water bowls each evening and provide them with fresh water in the morning.
- Bird Baths: Bird baths attract rodents. If you have a rat problem in your chicken coop, consider moving any bird baths away from the chicken coop or eliminating them all together.
- Standing Water: Empty buckets, wheelbarrows and anything else that may have standing water in it from the last rain.
2. Using Flowers, Herbs and Shrubs that Deter Rats
There are certain scents that rats do NOT like. Plant flowers, herbs and shrubs that rats will despise. This will help keep them from thinking they can eat, breed or take up residence there.
Sprinkle Fresh or Dried Herbs:
- inside the nesting boxes
- in dust bathing areas
- inside the chicken run
- inside the chicken coop
3. Store Chicken Feed in Rat Proof Containers
Rats can chew through chicken feed bags, cardboard, plastic containers, wood, drywall, aluminum(including chicken wire). Store chicken feed in steel metal garbage cans with a two step lid.
This will not only keep rats from getting into the feed, but also many other predators like raccoons, skunks and opossums from getting into it as well.
4. Rat Proof the Compost Pile
OMIT STRONG SMELLING FOODS
Rats love a good compost pile, especially one’s that have a strong aroma coming from them. This is why it is best not to add strong smelling foods such as meats, fish, cheese and fatty foods.
LOCATION OF COMPOST BIN
Rats don’t like to be disturbed. Locate your compost bin in an area that gets high foot traffic. Not far from the back door would make a good location. This way, you can throw appropriate kitchen scraps into it.
Place a stick next to it and give it a good tap, tap, tap every time you pass by it. This will let rats and mice know that they are not welcome and that they need to find another place to live!
DETER RATS WITH HARDWARE CLOTH
Cut the bottom of the compost bin out and replace it with hardware cloth. Hardware cloth is made of stainless steel, galvanized steel or bare steel and is very strong. It comes in 1/4″ and 1/2″ hexagon shaped woven mesh or welded mesh. Rats cannot chew through this.
This can be folded over the bottom of the bin or secured with staples. Just as long as it is secured to the bottom of the bin, small rats will not be able to get inside.
RAT PROOF COMPOST BIN LID
Secure the top of your compost bin with a rat proof lid. This can be a steel metal lid or thick plastic lid that you remove when you stir the compost. If you use a plastic lid, monitor it for chew marks. If you see chew marks, you need to replace it with a steel lid.
5. Protect Fruit on Trees from Rats
Many rats like to nest in trees, especially trees that contain fruits or nuts! Try to make them feel as unwelcome as possible.
BEST LOCATION FOR TREES TO CUT BACK ON COOP RATS
If you are new to chicken keeping and are trying to figure out a location for your chicken coop, it is best not to place the coop under fruit or nut trees. Rats especially like to make a nest in these trees and they are more likely to make visits to your coop, leave rat droppings and urine trails.
The bad thing about rats leaving their scent trails (poop and urine) is that rats are one of a raccoons number one delicacies. If a raccoon knows rats are in your coop, it will try to break in too.
HARVEST FRUIT BEFORE THE RATS DO
Rotting fruit also attracts rats. Harvest fruit from the tree as soon as you can. Some fruits will continue to ripen after picked.
PICK UP FALLEN FRUIT BEFORE THE RATS DO
The longer you leave fallen fruit on the ground, the increased likelihood of attracting rats. Rats love rotting or fermented fruit. If you get to it before the rats do, you can feed most fruit flesh to your chickens as an afternoon treat!
FEEDING CHICKENS FALLEN FRUIT
If you make it a point to pick up fallen fruit daily, it can be given to your chickens as an afternoon treat. Chickens especially like apricots, plums and peaches flesh. The pits contain cyanide and shouldn’t be given to chickens. Mine don’t bother with them, instead they eat only the flesh. Apples are good, just not the seeds.
THAT IS SAFE
|DO NOT FEED|
|NO PIT, NO |
|AVOCADO FLESH||NO SKIN, PIT,|
BARK OR LEAVES
|NO SEEDS, NO|
Chicken treats should only constitute 10% of their daily diet. For an adult chicken, this is about 1 TBS of treats a day.
6. Make Your Garden Unfriendly to Rats
LOCATE GARDEN AWAY FROM CHICKEN COOP
Rats like fruit and vegetable gardens. Many find it convenient to locate the garden right next to the chicken coop so they can toss weeds and “misfit” fruits and veggies right into the coop.
It is convenient, but gardens do attract rats. And if it is right next to your coop, they are likely to make visits to both.
If you are trying to decide on a location for your garden or chicken coop, I would suggest not keeping them right next to each other. Instead, place it on the other side of the yard. You will still need to rat proof your garden to protect your fruits and vegetables.
HARVEST RIPE FRUITS AND VEGETABLES BEFORE RATS DO
If you want to enjoy fruits and vegetables from your garden, it is best to pick them as soon as you are able to. Otherwise, the rats will get to them.
Look through your garden daily and remove any rotted fruit.
REMOVE STANDING WATER FROM GARDEN
Rats need water and will seek it out. Remove any water sources that are in your garden area. This includes leaking sprinklers, watering buckets and other objects that may have standing water by your garden.
7. Stop Rats from Entering Coop With Hardware Cloth
Rats are small and nimble enough to get through an opening as small as the diameter of a penny! The best fencing needed to keep out a rat would be one that the openings are small enough, but also strong enough. Hardware cloth is just the right type of fencing material to do the job.
A common fencing that many chicken owners use is chicken wire, but the opening in this are anywhere from 1″-2″. Even a fat rat can fit through this.
Chicken wire isn’t as strong as hardware cloth and determined rats can chew through it, if wanted.
Hardware cloth is made of stainless steel, galvanized steel or bare steel. This is strong enough that a rat or mouse cannot chew through.
Hardware cloth comes in openings ranging from 1/4″-1/2″. This is small enough to prevent even small mice from getting through.
8. Patch Rat Holes in Chicken Coop
Rats have 16 teeth total. It has a total of 4 long, sharp, incisor teeth; 2 on the top and 2 on the bottom that are used for gnawing at things. Their teeth are even stronger than human teeth. They are capable of gnawing and chewing through chicken wire, electrical wires, wood, plastic, drywall and aluminum.
Rat teeth have a very hard enamel. It is harder than copper, platinum and iron. According to Mohs Hardness Scale rat teeth would rank 5.5/10. Human teeth would rank 5/10. Diamonds rank a 10.
Check for very small openings in your chicken coop on a routine basis. Make sure that coop doors are shutting completely so rats, mice and snakes don’t squeeze in!
If you notice rat droppings or any other signs that a rat has been in your coop, look very carefully for tiny holes and make the necessary repairs.
9. Use Natural Herbs in Your Coop to Deter Rats
There are several herbs that will deter rats and other predators too. At the same time they help your chickens to feel happy, healthy and content. Happy chickens = more eggs!
WHAT HERBS WILL REPEL RATS AND ARE SAFE FOR CHICKENS?
How to Deter Rats Using Herbs Around Your Chicken Coop
Mix as many of these rat deterring herbs together and sprinkle them around the entire perimeter of your chicken coop. Sprinkle them inside your chicken coop, chicken run and hen nesting boxes. Repeat this on a weekly basis.
All of these herbs are perfectly safe for your chickens to eat and many of them will also help to stimulate egg laying!
10. Spray Natural Rat Deterrent(Recipe)
The same herbs that you use to sprinkle around the perimeter and inside your chicken coop, can be used to make a spray rat deterrent. This spray is not only safe for your chickens, but healthy for them too.
RECIPE FOR SPRAY RAT DETERRENT
|6 CUPS WATER||4 CUPS WATER||2 CUPS WATER|
|3 TBS DRIED |
|2 TBS DRIED|
|1 TBS DRIED|
|3 TBS DRIED|
|2 TBS DRIED|
|1 TBS DRIED |
|3 TBS DRIED|
|2 TBS DRIED|
|1 TBS DRIED|
|1/2 GALLON PUMP|
|64 OZ SPRAY|
|32 OZ SPRAY|
Instructions: How to Make Rat Repellant Spray to Deter Rats from Chicken Coop
- Combine crushed garlic, peppermint, lavender and eucalyptus leaf herbs.
- Add hot water. Let this seep overnight in a glass container.
- Add this solution to the spray bottle. If making the larger quantity of 6 cups, I recommend using a pump sprayer to make it easier for dispensing.
- Give it a good shake to combine the ingredients.
- Spray around the perimeter of your entire chicken coop. This can be done on a weekly basis to deter rats and rodents.
11. Clear Rat Nesting Spots Around Chicken Coop
Rats like to hide and not be bothered. They especially like to hide in clutter or debris such as weeds, bushes, fallen branches, wood piles, stored farm equipment and tools.
- Keep lawn mowed regularly.
- Get rid of surrounding bushes that rats like to nest in; Juniper bushes and English Ivy.
- Remove all weeds and debris around the entire perimeter of your chicken coop.
- Fill in all tunnels that rats have made with compact dirt.
12. Use Ultrasonic Rat Deterrents
Ultrasonic rat deterrents work by emitting noxious sound waves that only certain rodents can hear. It operated on a frequency between 30 kHz and 55 kHz. Humans can’t hear this frequency, but it is enough to drive some rats (and other rodents too) away.
“According to a study done by National Wildlife Research Center and the United States Department of Agriculture in 1995, the effects of ultrasonic repellents tend to wear off a few days after exposure as the pests get accustomed to the noise.”National Wildlife Research Center and United States Department of Agriculture
Something that I have found that works well is to change the location of the ultrasonic device that you are using each week. This will keep them at bay.
13. Get a Barn Cat to Keep Rat Population Down
What would a little chicken farm be without a barn cat? Barn cats work exceptionally well at keeping the rat population down. Don’t be surprised though if your barn cats brings one to your front door.
These are considered “gifts” from your cat. He is showing you that he loves you and considers you part of his family. He shows this to you by hunting, killing and delivering it to you.
CONCLUSION: How to Keep Rats Out of a Chicken Coop-13 Easy Ways
|13 EASY WAYS-|
HOW TO KEEP RATS
OUT OF THE
|1. CLOSE DOWN THE 24 HOUR|
|2. STORE CHICKEN FEED IN|
RAT PROOF CONTAINER
|3. RAT PROOF THE COMPOST|
|4. PROTECT FRUIT ON TREES|
|5. MAKE YOUR GARDEN|
UNFRIENDLY TO RATS
|6. PLANT FLOWERS, HERBS|
AND SHRUBS THAT DETER
|7. USE HARDWARE CLOTH,|
NOT CHICKEN WIRE
|8. REPAIR RAT HOLES|
|9. SPRINKLE HERBS IN|
COOP, NESTING BOXES,
AND PERIMETER OF COOP
|10. SPRAY NATURAL RAT|
|11. CLEAR DEBRIS FROM |
|12. USE ULTRASONIC|
|13. GET A BARN CAT|