The Omlet Blog

How to keep rats away from your chicken coop

No one wants rats hanging around — much less around areas that you frequent. One of the most common questions we receive from people who are thinking about getting chickens is: will keeping chickens attract rats? The short answer is most likely, yes. But thankfully there are several things you can do to prevent unwanted visitors in the form of rodents – here’s our best tips on how to keep rats away from your chickens

Chicken inside the run of the Eglu Pro walking up the ladder

Risks that rats pose 

You don’t have to have musophobia (the fear of mice and rats) to want to avoid seeing them. Wild rats aren’t a fun surprise to happen upon anywhere, but especially not when they can wreak havoc on your flock and their belongings. In addition to being generally unappealing and startling for both you and your flock, rats can: 

  • Carry diseases
  • Gnaw their way through wood and plastic
  • Raid nesting boxes for eggs 

Rats will even go after young chicks for an easy meal. But, it’s important to note that rats aren’t attracted to your chickens — it’s their feed they’re really after. With this is in mind, here’s how to prevent attracting the attention of these ravenous rodents. 

Store and dispense feed properly 

Keeping your flock’s feed in airtight containers is the first step in preventing rats. Rats are clever and have an excellent sense of smell, so it’s vital that any feed containers have a good seal and made from thick material. They’re also patient and can learn routines quickly, so if you have rats that monitor your daily activity with your flock, they may learn where the feed is stored. Metal containers prevent rats from gnawing through to the feed they may have observed being stored there. 

When you feed your chickens, make sure that your chicken feeders are elevated and deep enough that your hens don’t make a mess when they eat. Feeders with leftover food should be removed from the run each night to prevent opportunistic midnight snackers. Sweep or scoop up any dropped feed from the run floor, and store feeders in airtight containers. 

Take care with treats 

When you treat your chickens with scratch or other offerings, only toss what you’re confident they will eat by sundown. To avoid waste, feed scratch grains in chicken peck toys, and kitchen scraps in a Caddi Chicken Treat Holder. These can be removed easily at the end of the day, and help keep food from being scratched into the ground. Plus, eating treats this way provides an interesting and engaging angle for snack time that your hens will appreciate. 

Collect eggs daily 

Eggs are a tempting meal for rats, and if they aren’t collected regularly, they can draw rodents in. To prevent piquing rats’ interest, you’ll need to collect eggs every day. This is a good practice to maintain for several reasons, but if you’re worried about rats it’s a necessity. If for some reason you can’t collect eggs for the day, outfit your chicken coop with an automatic chicken coop door that will close at night when rats are the most active. 

Employ deterrents 

There are a few other things you can do to keep rats away from your chickens. Along with collecting their feed and eggs daily, you can take external measures to deter rodents. From other animals to 90s nostalgia, here are some recommendations for keeping rats at bay: 

  • Keep an outdoor cat around your chickens’ set up 
  • Hang reflective tape or CDs from strings around the run to catch the light and deter rats and other predators 
  • Wrap ¼ inch hardware cloth around the bottom of your chickens’ run, and bury it a couple of inches below the ground 
  • Set motion lights at ground level to be triggered by overnight rat raids 

What not to do 

When trying to avoid rats in the chicken run, there are a few things to avoid. Some of these measures can pose a risk to your flock, so be sure to never use these around your hens: 

  • Rat poison
  • Sprays meant to deter rodents 
  • Mouse or rat traps (even humane traps) 

Electric fencing can be placed around the perimeter of your chickens’ area to deter rats and other predators, but extreme caution should be exercised so that your chickens, other pets, or children don’t come into contact with it. 

Omlet and your flock 

Keeping chickens doesn’t have to come along with the potential for rodents. By keeping your flock in a strong hen house with an Autodoor, you’ll prevent rats from being tempted to infiltrate their coop. And, by serving treats in elevated chicken treat holders, you’ll reduce waste in the run for rats to feast on later. With these measures in place, you can enjoy tending to your flock without fear of rodents laying in wait. 

Chickens inside the run of the Eglu Pro

 

 

This entry was posted in Chickens


3 replies on “How to keep rats away from your chicken coop”

mary Stephens says:

Use a grandpa’s feeder

Kristin Smith says:

I have had a terrible problem with rats in my chicken yard because of spilled feed. I am making progress by using Grandpa’s Feeder that closes when the chickens step away. Also keeps the wild birds away from the feeder a bit since they don’t weigh enough to open it.

Nick says:

Use the smallest mesh you can afford for your pens. A rat can fit thru an opening the size of a dime, so hardware cloth is always better than chicken wire.

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