Chicken coops can be a prime target for rodents, especially rats and mice. They not only can do harm to your chickens and the coop itself, but also can cause your hens to go on strike and stop laying. By following my 13 simple ways to rodent proof the chicken coop, you can put a stop to these pesky rodents from even wanting to hang around.
What Problems Do Rodents Cause?
- bring lice, ticks, fleas into the coop
- bring diseases into the coop from droppings and saliva
- rats can gnaw on your chickens’ feet while roosting
- larger rodents can kill your chickens
- can eat chicken eggs
- can chew through electrical wires
- can chew through feed bags
- contaminate water
- increase stress within the flock
- decrease egg production (from increased flock stress)
Types of Rodents Attracted to Chicken Coops
|TOP 10 CHICKEN COOP RODENTS|
Depending upon where you live, you may have different types of rodents that you need to protect your chickens from. The list above is the most popular rodents in the USA that chicken owners seem to have problems with.
Each country has their own types of mice, rats and squirrels. Europe has lemmings, which is related to the vole family! In South America they have chinchillas, which is part of the Chinchillidae family. Mexico has prairie dogs, which is related to the squirrel family.
How Do I Prevent Rodents from Getting Into My Chicken Coop?
Rodents are not interested in your chickens as much as they are the food, treats and water that you provide for your flock. The easiest way to prevent rodents from getting into your chicken coop is by removing all sources of food and water at the end of each day and securing your coop so they can not enter at night.
1. Remove all Uneaten Food at the End of Each Day
Rodents come out at night searching for food and water. Rats and mice especially like grains, various seeds, fruits and water. But they aren’t picky and will dine on any type of food scraps that they can find! Before sundown, remove ALL uneaten food. Leaving food out at night is an open invitation for these pests.
|WHAT DO RODENTS EAT?|
|PET FOOD (INCLUDING CHICKEN FEED)|
2. Place Chicken Feed in Metal Garbage Cans or Storage Bins
Rodents can easily chew through burlap and paper feed bags. As soon as you bring the feed home, place it into a metal or galvanized steel container. Make sure the top is secure enough that other predators, such as raccoons, cannot lift the top off.
Rodents carry all kinds of diseases that can be easily passed on to your chickens through their feces, saliva and even the mites, fleas and lice that they carry. Once a rodent makes its way into your coop, it will continue to make its way back until you make appropriate changes. Why not keep coming back if they have access to a 24 hour diner?
It’s best to store your feed away from your coop, preferably in a cool shed that is well ventilated. Bacteria and molds thrive in warm, moist locations and you don’t want it to be in your chicken feed! Feed that stays cool and dry is less likely to develop mold and bacteria growth. So pick the right spot to store it.
3. Don’t Keep Compost Piles Next to Chicken Coop
If you have a compost pile, keep it away from your chicken coop and in an open area. The following is a list of tips that you can take into consideration to help decrease your rodent population.
|10 TIPS TO DECREASE RODENTS FROM VISITING YOUR PROPERTY|
|1.||LOCATE THE COMPOST PILE AWAY FROM THE CHICKEN COOP.|
|2.||DON’T STORE CHICKEN FEED CLOSE TO THE COMPOST PILE.|
|3.||COMPOST PILE SHOULD BE IN WIDE OPEN AREA, WITHOUT CLUTTER.|
|4.||RAISE THE BINS OFF THE GROUND TO DETER RODENTS THAT LIKE TO BURROW.|
|5.||IF YOU HAVE HAD A RODENT INFESTATION, YOU WILL NEED TO THOROUGHLY CLEAN THE AREA TO DETER OTHER RODENTS FROM VISITING. RODENTS LEAVE URINE SCENT BEHIND THAT ENTICES OTHER RODENTS TO VISIT.|
|6.||BURY FOOD SCRAPS AT LEAST 6″ AND COVER WITH FRESH COMPOST.|
|7.||DON’T THROW FRESH MEAT OR DAIRY PRODUCTS INTO THE PILE.|
|8.||TAKE IN ALL PET FOOD AT SUNDOWN.|
|9.||PICK ALL FRUIT FROM TREES AS IT RIPENS.|
|10.||PLACE YOUR COMPOST BIN ON EITHER CONCRETE OR A SAND BASE.|
4. Repair Broken Doors, Boards, Chicken Wire
It’s a good idea to do routine inspections around your chicken coop to make sure that are boards, gates and chicken wire are secure. Mice are very good at squeezing through very small openings to get food or make a home.
An adult mouse can squeeze through a hole as small as the size of a dime, .705 inches. That is pretty tiny! This is why it is so important to put all uneaten food away at the end of the day.
A mouse can easily fit through regular chicken wire. If you want to stop all mice from getting into your chicken coop, you would have to install hardware cloth, with openings no larger than 1/2″. This will help to stop not only the adult mice, but the adolescent mice as well.
5. Install Hardware Cloth Around Perimeter of Chicken Coop
Rodents cannot only get in through broken fence boards, gates and chicken wire. Burrowing rodents can also dig under the coop to gain entry. You can stop rodents like this from getting in by digging a 12″ trench around the entire perimeter of the coop. Secure one end of the cloth to the base of the chicken coop and bury it 12″ below the surface.
This not only will stop rodents, but other predators from getting in as well. See the list below for the top chicken predators that you need to be securing your coop from. For more information on how to predator proof your chicken coop, read my article 9 Simple Tips – How to Protect Your Chickens.
|RODENTS (SEE LIST ABOVE)|
|BIRDS OF PREY|
6. Install an Automatic Chicken Door
If you find that you are forgetting to close your chickens in at night, or just don’t want to go out in the cold to shut your chicken coop door, then you may want to look into getting an automatic chicken coop door. Night time is when rodents and predators are out looking for a snack and you are putting your chickens at risk by not locking them in.
I am fortunate to have a Dad that is electronically inclined and is always making new inventions. He designed my automatic chicken coop doors several years ago. It makes life so much easier for me!
I have two automatic chicken doors. One works off of the day/night cycle and will go up at day break and go down when the sun sets. My second one is on the hen house where they roost and I can set what time it goes up and down. This works good because I don’t want them going out too early in the morning to lay eggs. The eggs are great, but it’s the early morning “egg songs” that I need to control (for my neighbors sake!).
7. Keep Your Chicken Coop Clean
To prevent tempting rodents, chicken coops should be cleaned on a DAILY, WEEKLY and BIANNUAL schedule. Of course, if something needs tended to more often, it should be done. Nesting boxes should be inspected daily and if it is soiled it should be changed out.
|PUT AWAY ANY UNEATEN FOOD||✔️|
|WASH FOOD BOWLS||✔️|
|CHANGE NESTING BOX BEDDING||✔️|
|DISPOSE OF CHICKEN POOP||✔️|
|REPLACE COOP BEDDING||✔️|
|SCRAPE POOP OFF OF WALLS||✔️|
|HOSE DOWN COOP||✔️|
|WIPE DOWN COOP WITH APPLE CIDER VINEGAR||✔️|
8. Get Rat Proof Chicken Feeder
If you do not want to bring in your chicken feed every day you can invest in rodent proof chicken feeders. They are called a treadle feeder. It is a chicken feed container made out of galvanized steel that opens up when your chicken steps up on the plate. When the chicken steps down, the plate closes. Rodents are not heavy enough to open this up.
You can alway check out Amazon’s current price for it. They are usually reasonably priced. Treadle Feeder from Amazon.
9. Keep the Perimeter of Chicken Coop Well Maintained
Rodents like clutter. They like to get in small spaces and take up residence. Rodents like to dig and burrow in enclosed areas. It makes them feel more secure and warm too. Try to discourage rats, mice and any other rodents from wanting to make their home anywhere on your property by keeping it clutter free.
10. Plant Herbs Around Your Chicken Coop
There are many herbs that chickens can benefit from having around the coop. Some of them will even help deter rodents!
|LAVENDER||RODENT, FLY, FLEA REPELLENT|
|FENNEL SEED||APHID, SLUG, SNAIL REPELLENT|
|GARLIC||RODENT, INSECT REPELLENT|
|ROSEMARY||RODENT, FLY, TICK REPELLENT|
|SAGE||RODENT, TICK REPELLENT|
For more information on different ways you can use herbs around your chickens as well as how it will improve their health and safety, read my article 5 Important Ways To Use Herbs Around Your Chickens.
11. Install Electric Fence
If you find that the above suggestions are not working, you may have to resort to more drastic measures such as installing an electric fence. Maybe you already have one around you coop? Just make sure that the bottom wire is close to the ground, but not touching, so it can shock small rodents.
They do make electric fences that are safe for chickens to get shocked, but it will call a small rat, mouse or squirrel. You will have to check the perimeter in the mornings for any dead rats and mice or other rodents. If you can help it, you do not want your chickens to eat rodents that carry diseases.
12. Set Traps
Setting traps to catch rodents is another thing you can try. Of course, make sure that your chickens do not have access to them and I recommend putting fresh meat or dairy in the trap instead of a poison.
13. Install Ultrasonic Pest Repellers
These are little plug in devices that emit an ultrasonic frequency that will disorientate the hearing and nervous system of rats, mice, flies and fleas. It is said to be safe for humans and pets. A chickens hearing is similar to ours, so anything that we can hear, they will too.
Amazon sells these at a really good price for a 6 pack. Check Amazon for their current prices.
Conclusion: Time to Rodent Proof the Chicken Coop
Now that you are aware of some things that you can do to stop rodents from visiting your coop, what are some changes that you can make? Maybe you have some suggestions as to how you keep rodents out? Leave a comment below and let me know!