i recently have noticed a lot of feathers on the ground in my coop. i have close to 40 birds. most of them (about 35) actually sleep in some leyland cypress trees in front of the coop itself. my guinea hens and younger birds sleep in the coop. i have a smaller cage for young birds when they come out of the brooder. the coop for it is a 4x5 doghouse. it has 2 roosts of different heights to allow more birds to sleep off the ground. i havent had any birds in there for a while, and i noticed a large pile of hay and feathers in the back a few weeks ago. i knew it was rats, because they eat what food is left overnight. theyre a huge problem for us. i have gotten where i take the feeders and feed inside overnight. i raise orpingtons and other laying varieties, and one of my hens at the bottom of the pecking order decided she wanted her own place to lay an egg. well, long story short, she scratched down the rat nest into a bowl shaped nest for eggs. i found feathers everywhere when i got home, and she couldnt even hop out of the 3ft high fence like normal. i looked under her wings, and both sides had been ripped open, and under her legs were bitten too. weve had problems with raccoons, possums, hawks, and the occasional dog that gets the chickens that escape the pen. theres only one animal that would do this and not kill the bird immediately. RATS!!! theyre everywhere. i know this is a long post but its because im worried. the hen died overnight, and she was a $200 bird. its bad enough wasted feed money on rats, and i cant afford to lose my birds. i need to know how to stop these things and how to prevent them from eating my birds. thanks for your help!!!