Keep Mice & Rats Away from Your Chicken Coop
By : Rita Stadler
A chicken coop has a strange way of attracting critters that you don’t want living alongside your backyard chickens! Mice can’t help being attracted to the warmth, shelter, food, and freshwater that a well-maintained coop can provide. But they can cause more damage than just a couple nibbles out of your chicken feed.
The CDC has documented 11 diseases directly transmitted by rodents—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 important. Preventing your chicken coop from being infested with mice is good for both the health of your chickens and your own health.
In this article, we’re covering how to identify an infestation and 9 tips to keep mice and rats away from your chicken coop.
How to Tell if There Are Rodents in a Coop
It’s pretty evident when you have a mouse in 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 droppings in the feed or in places that chickens can’t or don’t poop.
Look for damage
There is structural damage you will probably notice. 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 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 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 the proof there are unwanted critters living in your coop, try these tips to help get rid of mice and prevent any new infestations from happening.
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9 Tips to Keep Mice Away from Your Chicken Coop
No matter how long you have had mice or rats living with your chickens they probably wore out their welcome the day they came. 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 that they will be attracted to inside the space, so blocking their entrance into the space is important.
2. Store feed in airtight containers
Make sure that you keep all feed that has not yet been fed to the chickens in airtight containers. 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 have to 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 you can, and clean out any mess that the chickens have made. Any 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 20x 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 that they could hide. Things like hay bales, woodpiles, leaves, sticks, and other debris provide for a perfect hideout.
6. Build a high fence
Build a fenced area 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. Remember to use galvanized steel wire.
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.
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 Repellent pouches around the enclosed area in the coop. These pouches are made from botanical ingredients 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
There are a lot of potential consequences when it comes to using poisons around your chickens including harming them or harming any other pets in the backyard. Something else to consider is that your chickens may end up eating poisoned mice.
Using 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. With traps, there’s an added health risk of handling traps that have a dead rodent inside.
Rats and mice can carry dangerous diseases so keeping them away should be a top priority. Even though you could see chickens killing a mouse in the yard, don’t expect that to be enough to eliminate your mouse problem entirely. Common pest control methods can be harmful to the ecosystem, so check out these botanical methods, Fresh Cab® and Stay Away® Rodent, and help keep your coop pest-free!
For more information on this topic, check out these resources: