In-and-out-Mice

May 16, 2020
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Alright, it was about 2 weeks ago the first time i found droppings in the food container.

We recently put down layers of hay and bedding to try our hand at the 'deep litter' method of keeping the coop dry during the winter (so far, it's working very very well, and the chickens love it)
However, because we spotted droppings once or twice I'm worried that mice may be hiding in the deep bedding and nesting somewhere.
We haven't seen any more signs of rodents/intruders since we found the first droppings, but I'm still worried, we don't want mice in the henhouse.
Should I be concerned if I havent seen any more droppings? Or should my chickens be good?

Also: is it normal for chickens to be more moody in the winter? I've noticed they've been a bit more noisy, they get frustrated more quickly if their coop isnt open to their run right away in the morning, and they peck at each other more often (which is still quite rare, they're rather well-behaved).
Because our winters are rainy, I've done my best to keep the yard clean so they can eat the overgrown plants and grass, but when the ground freezes over in the morning and everything is frosted (surprisingly though their run does NOT frost over, the deep litter bedding seems to stay warm enough overnight that the inside of the coop does not get frosted.) we can't let them out and let them walk on the frozen ground because there are parts of the yard where rainwater freezes in sheets and when it's walked on it shatters and makes little ice-spikes that can't be good for chicken feet.

Summary: should I still be worried about rodents? should I worry that my chickens are more moody?
 

Lacy Duckwing

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Premium Feather Member
Nov 6, 2017
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Yes. Chickens can get more moody during the winter. They get bored. Try giving them some toys.

I use shavings in my coops. I hate it when I have mice in the coop. They come in, scare the birds, then eat their grain. Some people keep a bantam rooster with their girls. I suggest an Old English Game. They're mean, but as long as I had one in my coop, there wasn't a single mouse that dared to come near. Also, if your chickens aren't scared of mice, they might eat them. Maybe they need some training in this, but that might help protect the grain.
 

rosemarythyme

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when the ground freezes over in the morning and everything is frosted (surprisingly though their run does NOT frost over, the deep litter bedding seems to stay warm enough overnight that the inside of the coop does not get frosted.) we can't let them out and let them walk on the frozen ground because there are parts of the yard where rainwater freezes in sheets and when it's walked on it shatters and makes little ice-spikes that can't be good for chicken feet.

I'd let them out. Let them decide if they find it acceptable or not. That probably accounts for some of their moodiness and crankiness towards each other, because they're used to having a certain amount of space to roam.
 

aart

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Alright, it was about 2 weeks ago the first time i found droppings in the food container.
In the feeder or storage container?

If I see droppings, I set snap traps.
Actually I keep traps set all the time in the coop shed.
But if I see dropping inside the coop itself, I set up this:
full
 

Al Gerhart

Crowing
10 Years
Sep 29, 2011
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Do a forum search for Howard E's articles on rodent control. The sort version is sanitation, exclusion, and elimination. Sanitation is keep the feed in a metal barrel and a treadle feeder and cleaning up around the coop to eliminate safe passage for the rodents to and from the food, exclusion is galvanized hardware cloth and sheet metal over any holes or cracks over 3/4", elimination is only needed when you refuse to do the first two processes. This works if you have enough full size birds that can operate a treadle feeder for the bantams or silkies. If not, gotta go with the second tactic, exclusion.

Poisons and traps rarely work long term. If you were able to clean out the population before they wised up to the dangers a new population would move in once the old population was gone. Some cats do kill rodents, most will not, you will see all kind of advice on buckets, soda pop, plaster of paris or instant potatoes which are pretty much old wives tales or might work one or two days till the rodents wise up.

What does work is sanitation, exclusion, and elimination in that order.
 

cmom

Hilltop Farm
14 Years
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In the feeder or storage container?

If I see droppings, I set snap traps.
Actually I keep traps set all the time in the coop shed.
But if I see dropping inside the coop itself, I set up this:
full
I do more or less the same thing with rat/mouse bait stations. I had a severe rat infestation awhile back in one of my coops. When I started renovating it dozens of rats of all sizes poured out. I use rat/mouse bait stations and put poison in the bait stations. I have not found any dead rats or anything from secondary poisoning. I have noticed tunnels around the coops which I believe were made by the rats. I also believe that the reason I haven't found any dead rats is because they go into their tunnels and die and bury themselves. I'm not advocating using poison but only that it worked for me after trying many other ways first. The bait stations have a little window above the bait so it can be checked often. Good luck...
 

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Jenwisp

Songster
May 14, 2020
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we saw mice droppings once. I'm not worried about them going in the coop, as we have ducks as well and they eat them. but I also put 1/4 inch hardware cloth around the bottom and under the floor. it would be foolish for mice to try to live inside the coop.
 

cmom

Hilltop Farm
14 Years
Nov 18, 2007
29,387
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Florida
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we saw mice droppings once. I'm not worried about them going in the coop, as we have ducks as well and they eat them. but I also put 1/4 inch hardware cloth around the bottom and under the floor. it would be foolish for mice to try to live inside the coop.
I had a coop that was infested with rats. Dozens came pouring out when I renovated it. There were nests in the ceiling and walls I tore out. It was our original coop. Live and learn...
 

Jenwisp

Songster
May 14, 2020
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Hudson Valley, NY
I had a coop that was infested with rats. Dozens came pouring out when I renovated it. There were nests in the ceiling and walls I tore out. It was our original coop. Live and learn...

That's definitely something I would hate to deal with. I don't have any spaces for them to nest inside the walls, because that is open inside.

Did you end up using any poison?

I have heard it said that when neighbors tear down old sheds, rats move into your own buildings and I believe every word of it.
 

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