Best design to avoid rats??

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by busbees, Dec 18, 2009.

  1. busbees

    busbees Out Of The Brooder

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    I am getting ready to build a 8 x 8 house for laying hens. Was planning on putting it on blocks- maybe a foot or two off the ground. After reading the posts in the Predators and Pests forum, I'm afraid my wife might punt on the whole idea. A cement floor is not feasible. I could use corner posts and elevate the house much more. Would like to hear suggestions. I live in Virginia in a semi-rural area.

    Thanks!
     
  2. chickeydee

    chickeydee Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If you do not plan on ever moving it I think its a great ideal ,but if you have to move it I would put it on a skid or cinder blocks .Good luck and Merry Christmas .
     
  3. suebee

    suebee Speaks Silkie Fluently

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    My coop is an 8x8 in semi rural NC. We put it on blocks about 1/2 foot off the ground. Used heavy plywood sheets for everything, including the floor. Do not cover the inside studs, that's where the mice/rats would live.
    Built back in 2003, floor still in perfect condition and no rodents.
     
  4. busbees

    busbees Out Of The Brooder

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    That's what I want to hear! Do you do anything special with the feed?
     
  5. suebee

    suebee Speaks Silkie Fluently

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    I got the aluminum feeders from Tractor Supply and nailed them up between the narrower studs...about 4-6 inches off the floor.

    I have left the feeders on the floor before, but the chickens kicked the pine shavings in, covering all the food.

    Anyway, no rats...ever. I know because I've had a camera in the coop from the beginning.
     
  6. LizFM

    LizFM Chillin' With My Peeps

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    OK this may sound weird...but a couple of decades ago when I had chickens (live in a townhouse with no yard now)...wayyyy before the internet or any real way to hook up with others knowledgeable about backyard chickens (I read Mother Earth News and talked to my grandma to learn [​IMG] ) I had a poorly constructed coop on our farm and ended up with a rat problem in the coop. It was a commercial farm with a dairy, hogs, etc so there was no way to actually eliminate rats. Barn cats mostly had detente with the big barn rats [​IMG] ...so they weren't any help.

    Anyway...

    I heard that the mere smell of ferrets will deter rodents. The smell apparently sends a message deep into the rat brain that says "You are About To Die. Get Out."

    Of course, loose ferrets will kill chickens too so couldn't exactly move one into the coop -tho grandma said when she was a little kid (she was born in 1904) there were actually "ferret men" who came to the farms with armloads of ferrets, let them loose in the barns, waited while they went on their bloodthirsty killing spree for a few days, then collected the sated ferrets and headed down the road. She didn't mention them killing her chickens and she was a chicken fanatic from the time she was like 5 years old so she would have cussed about it [​IMG]

    I had a friend with a ferret so for several weeks I collected the contents of the used litter box and scattered it heavily around the foundation of the chicken house. After what in memory seemed like a very short time...the rats were GONE and even tho I did not keep up with the litter scattering after that, I never saw evidence of another as long as we lived there (a couple of years) [​IMG]

    So if you know people with ferrets and have a way to get used ferret litter...it sure can't hurt to try! Of course, there are lots of other things to do in proper coop design. But every little bit helps and I can't imagine but what used ferret litter would be free! [​IMG] it was sure easy!
     
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2009
  7. chookchick

    chookchick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The other thing you could do to pacify her is go out on a regular basis and "mark" the corners of the coop to deter predators...

    But seriously, the best way to avoid rats is to keep them out, don't provide food for them, and places to nest. If you build a good solid coop, use 1/2" or 1/4" hardware cloth on all openings, make sure the doors are all snug, you should not have a problem. Lift the coop floor off the ground on blocks or skids to keep it from rotting, and clean it on a regular basis. Bring the feeder into the coop at night if you keep it in the run. Don't leave food scraps out overnight (other than greens). Rats are all around most of us, just make it hard to set up camp at your place.
     
  8. cook_kaka_ook

    cook_kaka_ook Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Having a cat or two around will not hurt. They will not harm your full grown chickens but will be usually on the lookout for mice and rats.
     
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2009
  9. gsim

    gsim Chillin' With My Peeps

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    [b :

    chookchick]The other thing you could do to pacify her is go out on a regular basis and "mark" the corners of the coop to deter predators...
    [/b]
    But seriously, the best way to avoid rats is to keep them out, don't provide food for them, and places to nest. If you build a good solid coop, use 1/2" or 1/4" hardware cloth on all openings, make sure the doors are all snug, you should not have a problem. Lift the coop floor off the ground on blocks or skids to keep it from rotting, and clean it on a regular basis. Bring the feeder into the coop at night if you keep it in the run. Don't leave food scraps out overnight (other than greens). Rats are all around most of us, just make it hard to set up camp at your place.

    This will be really great for neighborhood relations too! Just be sure to wave at your neighbors as they drive by so that they do not get the wrong idea! [​IMG]

    On a serious note, If elevating the coop, be sure that it is not too close to the ground. Chooks might hide their eggs way back in the hardest place for you to get to. It has happened to others. Best bet is to lay out the location for their run, then build the coop entirely inside of it. Then rodent-proof and predator-proof your run and install a hefty fence charger.

    I did 6 ft tall welded wire set in cement and then a 2 ft tall run of chicken wire inside of that to keep chooks from poking their heads thru. Best to use hardware cloth tho. A rat, mouse, and snake deterrent that way. [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2009
  10. seminolewind

    seminolewind Flock Mistress Premium Member

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    I have a "skirt" of hardware cloth around the bottom of my coop. It's 3 feet wide. The cloth is nailed to the bottom trim of the coop and then comes outward on the ground. It does a pretty good job. It also works around the perimeter of the pen.
     

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