My Own Personal Caddyshack ... or how do I rid my chicken run of vermin?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by DawnKD, May 4, 2016.

  1. DawnKD

    DawnKD Out Of The Brooder

    Nov 10, 2015
    Sierra Madre, CA
    I've got a gopher (or pocket gopher?) that is digging into my run every night. I have a concrete footing that is one foot deep around the entire perimeter of the 10x10 ft run and buried hardware cloth, and the coop is raised. I shut their door around 7:30pm and open it by 6:45am. Every morning when I come to open the coop door, I have 6 or 7 2-3" holes in the same area. Some are completely open holes, and others are back-filled and fan shaped. I keep tamping the holes closed with a shovel, but they are back every morning!

    I can't use anything like poison seed as I don't want my dog to find said dead critter, or a coyote or bobcat or owl that we have nearby.

    I've read all the 'solutions' ...

    - mixing plaster of paris and cornmeal so their stomaches harden ... can't do this in a run
    - smoke bombs / car exhaust / bleach & ammonia ... also can't do in the run and don't really want to inhale that stuff
    - sitting with a shotgun ... I'm more likely to hit the coop than the intended target
    - soaking cotton balls w/ odd mixtures of peppermint oil, cayenne pepper, vinegar etc ... does this work?
    - grits supposedly irritate their stomaches ... not sure it would feel great for chickens either
    - juicy fruit gum ... supposedly they can't poop it out; again, don't want my chickens to eat it
    - castor oil ... opposite of gum, they get diarrhea that won't stop
    - vitamind D .... supposedly something about calcium and kills them
    - put cat poop in the hole .... um, EW, and I have no cats
    - flood the holes .... we have a drought in CA, doesn't feel water-wise
    - using baits with anticoagulants .... if my chickens get to it by scratching at the dirt, won't they also get sick/die?
    - gallon water jug and place it tightly over holes They climb out and end up in the water jug as you hold it over the hole ... does that work?
    - gopher snakes .... would those eat my chicken eggs?

    I'm interested in using the kill-em-dead traps, but could these hurt the chickens?

    Anyone have any truly tried-and-true methods that really work??
  2. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

    Oct 16, 2010
    NEK, VT
    Pellet gun. Not a wee Daisy pumper but a real spring or gas ram single cock gun. They come in a vast range of power plants. A good power for all small predators and vermin would be 20 ft-lbs. This will shoot fairly flat out 40 yards (drops fast there after) and is more than enough to take gopher and with good placement even raccoon. Inexpensive big bang for your buck would be the Hatsan 95. It's about sweet for .22 caliber if you don't go over 15 grain weight of pellet. H&N pellet in 14.66 grain and head size of 5.53 mm it the money shot for this gun. Any smaller power won't give you range unless you can shoot rainbows accurately and wont be enough power for larger pests. Very accurate and not very hold sensitive like a true magnum break barrel.

    Don't be fooled by other brands and velocity reporting. Hatsan is only company that reports true velocity with lead pellets.

    This is the 5.53 mm head. The head size is key to accuracy, Hatsan always run a tad bigger so need this size in .22 cal.

    "Wont we get in trouble if we shoot all the golfers?"

    I've got a magnum break barrel. It's hold sensitive and barrel heavy not to mention heavy (9 lbs). Sure I can range out 200 ft with it (100 yards takes practice shooting rainbows and gauging wind) and at 30 ft-lbs am not limited much on what I can humanly kill using a 18.13 grain JSB moving around 900 ft/sec. BUT it's not easy to shoot at distance without support or better yet shooting sticks or bipod. The 95 really is a much better user friendly gun that wont take much time to hone in your shot. Careful though, air guns are very addictive!

    My beast is Walther Talon .22 (discontinued), made by Hatsan company and exact to their 125 model.

    Last edited: May 4, 2016
  3. bigoledude

    bigoledude Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 16, 2011
    SE, Louisiana
    DawnKD You've really backed yourself into corner over some silly decisions. You can surely use a smoke bomb. when he tries to flee kill the rodent.

    Smoke bombs will tell you how extensive of a tunnel complex he has. Every move from here on out has to be an attack meant to kill this rodent.

    Anything less than a full blown attach will fail.
    1 person likes this.
  4. Tumbling K

    Tumbling K Overrun With Chickens

    Oct 5, 2015
  5. DawnKD

    DawnKD Out Of The Brooder

    Nov 10, 2015
    Sierra Madre, CA
    @bigoledude silly decisions? LOL, you must have spoken with my husband.

    Because the gopher is in the run, I think I need to be careful in not killing the wrong creature (i.e., chickens) instead of my intended target. I did smoke bombs in my yard once, but the label specifically says "do not inhale". How do I ensure that hens - with their delicate respiratory systems - don't get gassed too?

    Agree that I am waging a war on the rodent!
  6. bigoledude

    bigoledude Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 16, 2011
    SE, Louisiana
    I'm sorry about the "silly" comment.

    The makers of talcum powder are being sued because the stuff is POWDERY.

    There has to be thousands of people using Diatomacious Earth on and around their chickens. Nearly every post here when people recommend DE, they warn about breathing the abrasive dust. Yet, I've never read one post where anyone suspected DE as the cause for a distressed or sick chicken.

    Wood ashes are very alkaline and is used the making of homemade lye soap. Yet, chickens will take a dust bath in yesterday's fire remains. They will sit there in the midst of a cloud of dust and ashes. Again, never heard of a dust or ash-related illness.

    Predators will use gopher tunnels to infiltrate your pen. And, you could wind up with every one of your chickens dead. In seconds!!

    When you declare war on predators, war can be extreme! LOL!!!

    I guess what I should have said was "over-cautious" instead of silly. Please forgive my crassness?
    1 person likes this.
  7. WPFarmstead

    WPFarmstead Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 9, 2016
    North Idaho
    We've used a hose attached to the back of a 4-wheeler before with voles. They weren't an issue around here until all the sub-divisions went in, and now we have all of them in one concentrated area, instead. But, vibration also helps. We found that if we mow fairly frequently, it drives them off.
  8. DawnKD

    DawnKD Out Of The Brooder

    Nov 10, 2015
    Sierra Madre, CA
    I didn't take offense at all, @bigoledude!!!

    I AM being overly cautious .... Last fall (sept & Oct & nob) I had a mama black bear attack my chicken coop in three different places and get in three different ways!!! Until my young flock of six was One.

    The "silly" gophers are loosening the soul and THAT is what makes me concerned for bigger predators - like raccoon or a crafty bobcat or coyote - to be able to burrow under.

    Maybe I'm reading too much about the potential side effects and disclaimers (ah lawyers) but the last thing I want to do in effort to be rid of gophers is inadvertently poison the girls. I use DE all the time (I do hold my breath since it freaks me out) and they bathe in ash occasionally when I have a fire .... I'd LOVE to stick a CO hose from my car to the holes or firebomb them, but I know it lives under my raised coop and I also don't want to blow that sky-high.

    I look at Amazon and find 5000+ products that "stop" the critters but I want to know the one that actually works.
  9. bigoledude

    bigoledude Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 16, 2011
    SE, Louisiana
    I'm glad I didn't offend you!

    Jeez Leweeze!! Bears!! I saw you were in California and I had in mind some members of the weasel family using the gopher tunnels to infiltrate your pens/runs/coop But bears?

    I kinda got roped into doing a lot of nuisance animal control around here. We don't have bears and we have no gophers either. As low as we are here, the gophers would need snorkels if they went further than 10 inches underground.

    But, for the few tunneling animals we do have, we use conibear traps. Below is a link to a whole page of conibear type traps. Since I've never seen a gopher, I wouldn't know what size conibear to use. The folks at this family owned trapper supply are the grits!!!

    The description of each trap gives examples of what sized animals each is good for. Conibears kill instantly upon being tripped. I know you worry about inadvertent harm to other animals.... Of course set them OUTSIDE the area with chickens.

  10. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Shove a wad of coarse steel wool, or a poofy metal pot scrubber, down each hole.
    Set small live traps or rat snap traps outside of could set snap traps under a milk crate to keep pets away.
    You'll have to keep it up for a long time probably.

    Why are they going in there, are you leaving food out, have eggs been eaten?

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