Discussion in 'Nutrition - Sponsored by Purina Poultry' started by Newbie322, Dec 3, 2016.

  1. Newbie322

    Newbie322 In the Brooder

    Jul 19, 2015
    Hopatcong NJ
    I have a small flock only 4 Pullets. So here is predicament, they are not free range therefor are housed in a 12X6dog pen, Recently I have an army of rats that are eating the feed which s left out out 24/7, I have tried many remedies to eliminate the rat population, and if I do not do it soon there will be more than an army. I have large bait boxes out in various locations, but they are avoiding the bait boxes, this I think is because they are going after the feed,that is left out (IE: at night) ) so is it ok that I take the feed away altogether and feed them on the ground .this way it will intice the rats to hit the bait blocks. And if do this how often and how much should be fed to the flock.
  2. Ol Grey Mare

    Ol Grey Mare One egg shy of a full carton. ..... Premium Member

    Mar 9, 2014
    My Coop
    Take up the feed at night, the birds have no use for it from dusk to dawn. Scattering feed on the ground would still leave the issue of any leftovers being out for the rats to be drawn into - using a feeder allows for total removal of feed. You can also consider changing the type of feeder you use so that it leaves the food accessible to the birds (when the feeder is out) but not to any other animals.
    The larger concern is that if rats are able to access your bird pen, so are other animals - including those that pose a predatory danger to your flock. In addition to addressing feed accessiblilty, I would suggest you revisit the security of your pen overall to eliminate access to all outside animals, not just the rats.
  3. Newbie322

    Newbie322 In the Brooder

    Jul 19, 2015
    Hopatcong NJ
    Thanks, that was another option I was thinking of doing , is to take the feed away at night when the rats come out. As far other potential predators that can or will kill my flock that area of security is ok, they are housed in a chain link typical dog pen, with the coop inside the pen. The rats are the only ones that are getting through because of the typical size of the fence. (Just large enough for small rodents) But no other larger animals can get through. Like Cats, coons, dogs etc. The top is also closed off with a cover and chicken wire to prevent birds of prey getting in.
  4. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Free Ranging

    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    As Ol' Grey Mare said, there's absolutely no reason for the chickens to have feed at night. They won't come off the roost for food and water unless there's a light in the coop.

    I remove all the food by dusk.
    Once you remove food at night, perhaps you can catch/kill the rats. You'll be surprised how much less feed you use. Another problem is that rats will eat your chickens too.

    Don't jump to conclusions that predators can't get in. Weasels and mink can easily get through smaller openings than a chain link fence. If they get in, they'll kill everything in there. Unless the top of the pen is completely covered with a solid surface or welded wire, a raccoon can get in. They are the best climbers and can rip chicken wire apart.
  5. WesleyBeal

    WesleyBeal Chirping

    Nov 28, 2016
    Douglas County, Minnesota
    I'm new to chicken raising, so can't comment based on my own experience much.

    I've read that rats can pose a threat to chickens. Once full grown, the risks are that the rats would gnaw on your chicken's feet while they sleep. Of course a rat can carry away a small chick.

    If what I've read is true and rats do pose a threat to your chickens, ironically removing the feed may trigger that, as the normal buffet available to them isn't there anymore.

    I would be sure to take steps to secure the pen at the same time I removed the feed overnight.

    1/2 inch hardware cloth would help. Of course, a rat can climb the hardware cloth. Might try the hardware cloth up 4 or more feet, with a couple feet of plywood or some other smooth/flat barrier that would be more difficult for the rat to climb, surrounding the pen at ground level.

    You may also try a different trap for the rats. Small, rat-sized live-animal traps would work, as they'd be too small for a chicken to get in. You could put those in your pen with chicken feed in them, the same place you kept the feed. I'd think you'd want a few, so we're talking about spending a bit of money.
    1 person likes this.
  6. Purina

    Purina Songster

    Nov 11, 2014
    We’ve predator-proofed our coops at the Purina Animal Nutrition Center by placing screens on the doors, windows and runs. We used galvanized welded wire instead of chicken wire as chicken wire can stretch and allow predators access to the run. We also buried wire underground to prevent burrowing predators from accessing the coop and run. (We buried galvanized welded wire six inches underground, parallel to the walls of the coop and run and then bent the wire 90 degrees to run the wire out from the coop parallel to the ground, 6 inches.) Then we covered the wire with dirt. If a predator tries to dig under the coop or run, they hit the buried welded wire, and stop digging.
    1 person likes this.

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