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How To Keep Mice & Rats Away from Your Chicken Coop

A chicken coop has a strange way of attracting critters you don’t want living alongside your backyard chickens! Mice can’t help being attracted to the warmth, shelter, food, and fresh water that a well-maintained coop and the nesting boxes within them can provide. But, they can cause more damage than just a few nibbles from your chicken feed. 

The CDC has documented 11 diseases directly transmitted by rodents and 6 of them can be transmitted through “breathing in dust that is contaminated with rodent urine or droppings”. For this reason alone, rodent control is crucial. Preventing your chicken coop from being infested with mice is good for both the health of your chickens and your own health.

This article will cover how to identify an infestation and 9 tips to get rid of mice and rats that are invading your chicken coop space.

How to Tell if There Are Rodents in a Coop

It’s pretty evident when you have field mice or rats infesting your coop. You’ll notice certain behavioral changes in your chickens as they’ll likely start to avoid the space and act scared. You’ll also notice rodent droppings in the feed or in places where chickens can’t or don’t poop.

Look for damage 

Look for structural damage around the entire coop. Mice will gnaw and chew through wiring, wood, plastic, vinyl, aluminum, or any other materials that you have in place to keep your animals safe. Also, mice can chew through ordinary chicken wire, so you’ll want to use galvanized steel wire, often referred to as hardware cloth, to prevent this from happening.

Look for nests

Mice will make nests out of anything they can chew through and take apart. This could include a feed bag, hay, straw, or feathers. You can find the nests pretty much anywhere in a chicken coop; in bags of pet food, on shelves, in corners, under the building, or even as part of the actual structure.

Once you’ve spotted proof that unwanted critters are living in your coop, try these tips to help get rid of mice and prevent any new rodent problems from happening.

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9 Tips to Keep Mice Away from Your Chicken Coop

Regardless of how long these mice and rats have been residing alongside your chickens, their welcome likely expired the moment they arrived. Here are some ideas to get rid of these pests and prevent them from returning:  

1. Seal any holes or cracks

Make sure that any holes that mice can gain access through are sealed (keep in mind that they can fit through a hole the size of a pencil eraser). Any hole or crack in the foundation will prove to be vulnerable to an infestation. It’s hard to completely remove the things they will be attracted to inside the space, so blocking their entrance is important.

2. Store feed in airtight containers

Make sure you keep all feed that has not yet been fed to the chickens in airtight containers. This could include gallon buckets, metal containers, or anything else large enough to hold your chicken feed while keeping rodents out. By doing this, you are removing the smell that attracts rodents. Some owners take the food away at night since backyard chickens do not eat at night. But remember, food is the number one reason that a mouse will find its way into your area and stay.

3. Build a covered chicken feeder

Through some research that we’ve done, we found an awesome homemade chicken feeder from Grit Online. It can take a while for them to catch on to the fact that they must step on a trigger to open the feeder, but a treadle feeder is a good alternative to keeping food exposed throughout the day.

4. Clean regularly

Keep the inside of the coop cleaned regularly. Lay new bedding down as often as possible, and clean up any mess the chickens have made. Anything you throw away should be placed in a trash can far away from the coop and spilled feed that goes uneaten can be cleaned up and thrown in the compost pile to avoid attracting rodents.

5. Clean outside the coop

Mice come out of hiding as much as 20 times a day to eat and usually live within 20 feet of their food source. By keeping the perimeter of the location clean of clutter, you are eliminating places they could hide. Things like hay bales, woodpiles, leaves, sticks, and other debris provide a perfect hideout.

6. Build a high fence

Build a fence around the coop that’s at least 18 inches tall. Most chickens can climb well above 5 feet so they will still be able to move around, but the barrier will help prevent rodents from coming in. Depending on the size, this fenced area can also act as a chicken run, providing them with a safe place to roam. Remember, it’s crucial to use galvanized steel wire for your fencing or mice may be able to chew through your barrier.

7. Build a raised coop 

Raised coops are more secure than those built on the ground (unless you pour a concrete floor). A raised structure will help prevent predators from digging and burrowing underneath and keep the floor from rotting. A raised coop will also aid your cleaning efforts and reduce moisture buildup.

8. Choose good floor material

The type of floor you have matters. Dirt floors are easily breached by predators but easier to clean, while concrete can keep pests away but is expensive and often not a DIY option. Wood floors can house mites and other parasites. Check out this chicken coop building plan from start to finish for ideas.

9. Use a Botanical Rodent Repellent

Hang or place Fresh Cab® Rodent Repellentpouches around the enclosed area in the coop. These pouches are made from botanical ingredients and essential oils that produce a smell that’s offensive to rodents but not to humans. The pouches are fast-acting and provide 30 days of continuous protection. This will help keep mice and rats out of the chicken coop. Fresh Cab® is 100% effective, guaranteed.

What to Avoid

Many methods are available to keep pests away from a chicken coop. However, some are much more harmful than others. The two methods we recommend staying away from are harmful poisons and traps. Here’s why these solutions are far from ideal:

Harmful poisons

There are a lot of potential consequences when it comes to using poisons around your chickens including harming them or any other pets in the backyard. It’s also important to consider the possibility of your chickens consuming poisoned mice, which can further compound the risks. Poisons can also harm the surrounding environment, making them an even less favorable option.

Harmful traps

Using mouse or rat traps allows you to avoid poison, but the rodent is still being harmed. Common traps include snap traps, electronic traps, and glue traps which are all meant to kill rodents. Handling mouse traps with a dead rodent inside also adds a potential health risk for yourself. Instead of harming these critters and exposing yourself to dangerous health risks, consider using more humane and eco-friendly pest control methods.

Let EarthKind Help With Your Chicken Coop Pest Control

Rats and mice can carry dangerous diseases and cause a lot of structural damage so keeping them away from your backyard animals should be a top priority. Chickens are omnivores so it’s possible they could catch and eat mice but don’t expect that to be enough to eliminate your mouse problem entirely.

Common pest control methods can be harmful to you, your chickens, and the ecosystem, so botanical methods like Fresh Cab® and Stay Away® Rodent are the best choices to help keep your coop pest-free! Shop EarthKind products online or in a store near you.