Are mice a threat in my coop? My hens free-range so they tend not to be in the coop during the day (not laying yet). A few times, I will go into the coop to clean out, refill water, check on things, etc and see a mouse or two duck for cover. Should I be concerned with mice? A couple of times I have seen the mice jump out of the nesting boxes (girls should start laying in December - just installed the nesting boxes 2 weeks ago, placed hay and faux eggs.)
Mice in the coop
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I have mice in my barn. Only concern I have is for the food they are eating. My chickens have caught and tortured a few unlucky mice.
If the mice were really big, or if they were rats - there would be a danger of them eating the eggs or any chicks.
Mice aren't a physical threat to your hens but they can and do spread parasites and disease. My Cornish hens take care of any mice that venture out during the day and I throw my cat in the coop for a few hours every night to get the rest. I didn't think it was possible but my Cornish hens catch (and eat) more mice than my cat and my mouse traps combined!
At first I felt bad about killing mice in my coop and just told myself that they were just cleaning up the grain that my chickens spilled. Over time my coop became overrun with mice and one day I noticed mites/lice on all of my chickens. My soft heart turned to stone real quick. I don't take killing any animal lightly but first and formost, I am a Chicken Guardian so their welfare is my only priority. Like the Buddist Monks, I have my cat do the killing for me. What she doesn't kill, the hens get. And if it comes down to it, I don't hesitate putting down some mouse traps. After all, Hantvirus is highly contagious and highly deadly- to chickens and humans.
I very much appreciate all the comments to my post! First off - Happy Thanksgiving to everyone.
Secondly - what traps/poisons are recommened for mice around the chickens? I've been hesitant to use poisons because of the risk of the chickens getting into the poison and killing them! My coop is built into a very old barn tucked back in the woods. Mice are a common sight! Thanks!
I don't use poisons because I don't want my chickens eating poisoned mice and I don't want my walls filled with dead mice. I use regular old snap-traps. The safest way I've found to use them is to place a box over them with a few holes cut in the sides. That way the mice can have easy access to the traps but I don't have to worry about my chickens stepping on them and breaking a leg/foot.
Also, it would be a good idea to start throwing some Diatomaceous Earth around your coop and in the nest boxes. That way you can guard against any parasites (fleas, mites, lice) that my be hitching a ride on those cute little mice.
Come winter, your hens will be spending more time in the coop and will be more likely to come across and kill some of the mice. I still say cats and Game Hens are the best mouse control for anyones coop. What kind of chickens do you keep?
I've told this before but I'll tell it again. I put several mouse traps, with peanut butter, in a small cage and leave it in the coop. The chickens can't get in and the mice easily go through the wire. You can see when the traps are filled and empty them and reset. It is amazing how many mice are caught before you are finished. The last time I did this I caught 37 mice in a few days and then no more. I don't see any now but I will start trapping again with cold weather starting.