The proliferation of rodents is a common issue in chicken farms, especially those with feeding areas or large open spaces. These pests are notable for the destruction of feed, the spread of disease, and more. Their diets often consist of grains and fruit. They have powerful incisor teeth, which they use to cut through various types of material.
On average, a rat can reproduce close to 7 times every year and produce over ten young ones. Plus, a rat reaches sexual maturity when it gets to 3-5 months; the gestation period of rats averages one month.
I have often come around chicken running around trying to tear apart a dead rat – and it’s not often a good scene. Thus, I have outlined some useful information to help you avoid any such issues.
Let us dive right into it.
Do Chickens Eat Rats?
Yes, chicken, eat rats! I have seen it countless times, and it’s not often easy to control. While they do, various factors also come into play, for instance, the chicken species, type, diet plan, health, and more. Most chickens will consume any rodent, especially if it runs across through their cage. Since chicken can eat anything, the rat meat won’t necessarily have any side effects on their health.
If you have chicken, you will occasionally notice them racing around and struggling with an unusual item. Upon closer inspection, you might notice that it’s a dead rat, usually killed due to poisoning. Plus, any rat that races through your garden is likely to fall victim to cannibalization. Why? Chicken has the instinct to chase small insects, lizards, rodents, and more. It’s a similarity they share with various types of poultry and wild birds.
However, some rats are known to the disease-carrying species and can easily compromise your chicken’s health. Plus, chickens are likely to come across rats that have been killed using special poisoning techniques. Such rats can have toxic levels of the poison, which can have side effects on your chicken’s overall health. Thus, controlling the setting, you keep the chicken is also a crucial factor to consider. The only way of stopping your poultry from consuming rats is to use a savvy approach – unless you want to sit in the coop 24/7!
Have you ever come across dropping in your coop, and you fail to understand their origins? Are you also worried that whichever it is, they might affect your chicken’s health or your family? You have to consider that it’s not chicken that will bring the rats – their food is responsible! With sufficient information on the rodents in the proximity of your chickens, you will find it easy to come up with useful solutions.
It has taken me several years to understand the nature of this problem, even if it seems easy to solve. Controlling two or three chickens is easy. However, let me ask, “Would it be the same if you have 2 to 3,000 chicken in your yard?”
Dangers of Rats in the Chicken Coop
As a chicken business owner, the damage that rats have caused to my poultry-yard each is outstanding. The common ones include:
Rats Can Spread Disease
My research has included several excellent studies and reports on this issue. According to a recent study, rats are carrier agents of disease around various environments and are responsible for their spread. The study also showed that the side effects of rats on poultry health had not been well documented.
Furthermore, the study involved the evaluation of rat waste at a random poultry farm. The results of the study showed the presence of E.coli, which is a pathogenic bacteria. The bacteria are known to spread the disease to poultry and people. Trust me, you don’t want this disease anywhere close to your farm!
Thus, addressing rat infestations the right way is crucial. Using an informed approach will help ensure scientists and pest control professionals can produce the right results.
Damage in the Poultry House
Rats and mice can lead to significant economic loss for various reasons. These include equipment damage, feed, and chicken coop damage. Plus, they are also known to gnaw through electric wires, leading to fires and even electrocution of chicken. On average, rats can consume over 10-20kg of feed each year, while mice might only consume 2kg of feed.
Since most of the cost of running a poultry farm goes to feed and medication, rodent proliferation can have serious side effects. The feed prices are also rising steadily, such that using the right techniques for controlling rodents is crucial.
A Threat to Biosecurity
Rodents are also responsible for the spread of various pet health complications. These include Salmonellosis, Leptospirosis, and more. These diseases can easily clear an entire coup of chickens. Plus, they can easily spread to other farms. Thus, any presence of rats on a coop farm should be treated seriously. A recent study also showed that it’s possible for rats to contaminate food and water sources, which can lead to health issues for people.
You may have to consult with a professional exterminator if you feel the infestation is excessive. As we had seen earlier rats can reproduce faster than most other animals on the plant. I have experienced this a few times, especially when I was still new in the poultry business. My mistake was going several months without checking for rodent signs.
How to Identify if You Have Rats in the Coup
- Check visually – you may often come across running across your chicken farm, the walls, and more, particularly at night. That said, failing to see any rat does not necessarily mean they don’t exist in the garden.
- Rat squeaks – the sounds rats produce during movement are also crucial factors to consider. You may hear them running, scratching, or gnawing in groups, which you can hear easily around your farm.
- Fecal waste – It’s good to check the droppings on your poultry farm. The presence of rat droppings might be a good indicator that your chicken might have consumed one or two rats.
- Running marks and trails – a rat will often use a similar path for a long duration. Check for any wavy tracks around your coop. You are likely also to find them around the chicken feed area.
- Evidence of unusual feeding – rodents will often chew through different materials and obstacles to get to their target.
- Burrows and nests – the presence of paths that rats use to move around can be a good indicator of rats. Plus, check in the roofs and remote areas of the coop for the presence of nests.
Since you won’t always be there to stop your chicken from consuming rodents, it’s good if you use the right preventative measures. I find glue straps to be the most effective for this task. Below are some of the top ones:
Use Snap Traps
These are excellent for controlling the presence of rats. Use a piece of bait to attract the rodents by placing them on the trap. Plus, setting the trap at the right spot is crucial to avoid harming your chicken, pets, or kids. For instance, consider placing the traps around burrows, nests, and more. Remember to set the traps a few meters away from each other, as other rats may notice its dangers.
My favorite way to tackle these “disease-carrying and chicken killing devils.” Glue boards are unique boards that have adhesive. Like snap traps, you have to place the boards at the right spot to ensure the best results. The glue is also often incorporated with some poison. You may have to put some bait on the center of the board to help attract the rats. It’s also an effective method for trapping and removing rats from your poultry yard.
These are specially formulated chemical substances that can cause instant death of any small rodent. However, while they are useful, remember that your chickens might also consume the same rats you want to poison. Thus, rodenticides might be helpful a few days before you start up your project. The dangerous chemicals you have to consider include bromadiolone, zinc sulfate, and more.
Prevention of Rodents
If you still want a secondary method for stopping your chickens from eating rats, consider using secondary preventive methods. These techniques won’t involve the use of chemicals, and they are simple to use DIY. They include:
Destroy Rodent Burrows
You can reduce the number of rodents on your farm by compromising the paths they use to move around your yard. It’s also a process that includes eliminating any items that rats can use as habitats. Also, remember to keep your feed in a controlled area and dispose of any garbage.
Sealing Holes and Roofs
Rodents are also easy to control, and you can do this by closing holes in feeding rooms. Ensure you close up any pipes and drains with products such as sieves. Plus, concrete floors can also be ideal for regulating the presence of rats in your poultry yard. Rats can also get to your chicken yard through the roof and may have to keep them sealed as well.
Door and Entry Guards
You can apply this DIY technique if you have the right resources. Mix some plaster, cement, and soil. Then use the mixture to make special guards around the chicken coup. The guard’s role is to ensure the rats have difficulty climbing up and into where your poultry yard is. It can also be an excellent technique for safeguarding the feed storage area. However, if it’s difficult to do this DIY, you can consult a professional contractor service.
Read More about all types of chicken breeds
Keeping chickens has been a learning process from the start. And even though I have had chickens in my yard and in a coop for over a decade, I am still learning new things. Read More
For the longest time, I delayed starting my chicken farming adventure. I could not gather enough motivation to keep chicken because I had no idea what to feed Read More
It turns out that the age-old question of “Why did the chicken cross the road?” has, in all likelihood, been answered within the larger scope of farm life. Read More