Hello all. Without signing up for an account I have been a lurker for a couple of years now. I have gotten a lot of great information from all of you and really appreciate all of the knowledge that is here.
We have three healthy and happy hens in our tiny back yard that are still producing about 1 egg each per day after 3 seasons. We usually throw bread, veg and fruit scraps out in the run to the chickens on a daily basis. I made a PVC feeder for the run that works great. The downside to both of these is that on Saturday I was sitting out on my deck which the run sits next to and a very large NORWAY RAT scurried out from beneath the deck and grabbed a snack that I had thrown out for the chickens. This happened an hour before a family BBQ we had planned for my baby's birthday! Thank god it didn't come out during the party!! This thing was as big as a dang squirrel! At least 18 inches with tail! I've lived here most of my life and I didn't even know that we still had them here in Minneapolis! Mice sure. Raccoons as big as medium size dogs. Abundant! Even saw a fox run down my street once. A big Buck too! But a giant, disease ridden RAT! Not in my wildest dreams!
My wife is terrified of rodents so this may be the last straw for our so-far successful, urban chicken experiment. This was her idea to begin with and I wasn't 100% sold when we purchased the chicks but I have since become the chicken keeper of the pair of us and really don't want to get rid of them. I don't believe that the rat can get into the coop at night but they might be going in there during the day. I am hopeful that there is just one so I'll use the singular version of the word until I see 2 at once!
So here are my questions:
How do you feed your chickens scraps without making them easily accessible to other creatures?
This treadle feeder is cheaper than I could build one for and looks to be decently constructed. Anyone have one from Northern Tool?
I realize that there are better ones out there but I don't have $200 dollars to spend at the moment.
Any other suggestions around food management in the run and coop?
Ridding us of the rodent: I put out a couple of snap traps. One in a box in the run that is not accessible to the chickens and one under the deck. I don't want to use chemicals because if that thing dies under my deck there is no way to get it out without tearing apart my deck since it is only a couple of inches off the ground. Any suggestions around sending Mickey to the big disneyland in the clouds?
I want to take care of this before my neighbors find out and my wife has a nervous breakdown! Any help is much appreciated.