Question about rats and chickens

sonomachx

In the Brooder
8 Years
May 4, 2011
48
1
32
We have four 10 week old pullets. I am currently locking them up in the coop at night, but would like to leave the door open at some point so they can have free access to the run. We live in a city, so the main pests we have are raccoons, opossum, rats and dogs. The run is secure against everything but rats. Are rats a problem for adult chickens, or just chicks? If so at what age do you think the pullets can handle themselves with a rat? To give you an idea of the set-up here is a description: the entire back yard is surrounded by a 6ft wood fence, inside that is the run. The chicken run is a converted chain link dog run with a chain link top. This is not cheap flimsy chain link, but instead came from a fencing company that builds the runs for the local police dept. The bottom four feet of the run is wrapped with hardware cloth. There is also a 3 foot apron of hardware cloth extending out from the run, and the apron is held down by flagstone pavers. The entire run is bolted to a building so it is not moving. I know rats can climb in through the chain link on the top, but feel quite safe that nothing larger can get in. Also, we have a galvanized treadle feeder so their food is secure.
 

ladybug99

Songster
9 Years
Aug 10, 2010
359
25
124
Monroe New Jersey
Rats are little buggers indeed. They are attracted to the chicken feed, but depending on the size of the rats they could harm your chickens, especially at night when they are sleeping. My chickens will attack almost anything that moves in the run, maybe you be lucky enough to have attack chickens like mine. Rats come in all different shapes and sizes , but a full sized chicken will give a rat a run for his money.

If the holes in your fence are big enough for them to go thru they will do it time and time again, they will easily climb the 4 feet of hardware cloth on the bottom...you need to wrap the entire run..you also need to dig down deep and bury they hardware cloth, pavers do nothing to prevent burrowing animals... they will just burrow around them The best thing you could do is to feed your chickens during the day and keep the food away in metal garbage cans at night. CLean up any uneaten treats when you lock them up for the night. Hanging the feeders is also helpful. You need to check daily for tunnnels under your fence, and remember rats can climb, and hang upside down it they need to. I had a rat problem and had to finally resort to poison, I used the one bite brand... I tossed it down thier tunnels slathered in peanut butter and they eventually went away... but you have to be diligent
 

Nslangton

Chirping
8 Years
Jan 19, 2012
201
9
91
Rats are dangerous to all sizes of chickens. They multiply like crazy and carry about every disease known to man. You have to get rid of them. They know where the food is and won't stop coming and will bring their friends with them. They will work together and kill your full grown hens. I am not sure where you are located, but minks and weasels will have no problem getting into your run and will kill the entire flock.
 

sonomachx

In the Brooder
8 Years
May 4, 2011
48
1
32
Thanks for the advice so far.

The feed is secure from rats within the galvanized treadle feeder. We don't have rats living in the coop/run now, but I do know that they are in the neighborhood since we live next to a large public park with trash cans. Poison is not an option since the park is an off leash dog park. If there isn't feed available to the rats, do you think they will discover the run to harass the pullets?

I've never seen mink or weasels in the area and from talking to neighbors with chickens they don't seen to be a problem.

The run is secure from digging animals with the 3 foot apron of hardware cloth. The flagstone helps to keep it secure so we won't trip on it.
 
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gabrielle1976

Crowing
10 Years
Feb 21, 2009
5,561
68
281
Columbia river gorge
Rats are smart and sneaky, They are actually really amazeing animals and one of my favorits. That being said there is the chance they will go after small or injured / sick animals of any kind . The best bet is to remove any chance they can get into any food. If there is no food source hanging around a bunch of people and chickens that want to kill them is not something they will do . So make shure you have all your food secured so they cant get to it . Most people with pest problems would spend less time and money if they focused on removeing the food or liveing enviorment from the equation then trying to kill them all. 1 they breed one hell of a lot faster then we can kill them , 2 some pest build up immunity to poisons, 3 the poisons and traps you use to kill of the pest weather it be rats or mice or roaches ect are just as likely to poison and kill any number of things you didnt want dead such as pets and wildlife that you do enjoy. Good luck
 

sonomachx

In the Brooder
8 Years
May 4, 2011
48
1
32
Rats are smart and sneaky, They are actually really amazeing animals and one of my favorits. That being said there is the chance they will go after small or injured / sick animals of any kind . The best bet is to remove any chance they can get into any food. If there is no food source hanging around a bunch of people and chickens that want to kill them is not something they will do . So make shure you have all your food secured so they cant get to it . Most people with pest problems would spend less time and money if they focused on removeing the food or liveing enviorment from the equation then trying to kill them all. 1 they breed one hell of a lot faster then we can kill them , 2 some pest build up immunity to poisons, 3 the poisons and traps you use to kill of the pest weather it be rats or mice or roaches ect are just as likely to poison and kill any number of things you didnt want dead such as pets and wildlife that you do enjoy. Good luck
This is my thought as well. I know completely eliminating rats from our yard is not feasible or something I wish to try to achieve. I also figured I would be better off spending money on a rat proof treadle feeder than trying to rat proof the entire run. I am keeping the feeder in the run and away from where the birds roost at night. However, I do know rats will kill young chicks without much invitation. At what general age will most large breed chickens be able to defend themselves from an average sized rat?
 

sunshynertc

Chirping
5 Years
Sep 1, 2014
58
8
86
California
I found a dead rat outside of the area that my hens are in. Its nose was all bloody. I do not have cats or dogs. I do not have rat poisoning or anything like that. I did not even know I had a rat issue. If there is one rat, would there be more? Since I am in California and we are in drought right now.

How do I make sure the rats are not getting to the hens or their food?


Do I close their coop at night to prevent the rats from getting to them?
 

Folly's place

Enabler
9 Years
Sep 13, 2011
23,133
38,094
1,096
southern Michigan
Rats are everywhere, and maybe that one ate poison elsewhere and died in your yard. One less! You definitely need to lock the birds in at night, they are helpless when roosting. Make sure that your coop is rodent proof too. You might consider putting out rat poison in safe containers for a while too. Talk to the neighbors about it if possible., because dogs or cats eating the poisoned rodents will get poisoned also. If you've seen one rat, there are many more! Mary
 

RonP

Crowing
6 Years
Apr 4, 2014
2,197
1,305
281
New Jersey, "The Garden State"
Mice /rats, subject comes up often.

Posted to another query.
Hope it helps.:

My understanding is that rats/mice are everywhere.
They will congregate and breed where there is available food, water, and shelter.
Look closely around any fast food restaurant and you will see rat bait stations.

They will eventually come, the idea is to prevent them from establishing a colony.
If you see 1, there are probably fifty.
If you see two or more holes, expect dozens.

Keeping a rat trap/bait station baited 24/7 hopefully keeps the population from establishing near your food source. Once established, they are very difficult to eliminate.

Remember, chickens don't attract rats, food does.

That said, I fabricated black 4 inch circular x 18" long drainage plastic pipe as a bait station.
Placed along the outside of my coop, looks like drainage pipe (not unsightly).
I put a t fitting in the center, capped, for easy viewing once a week.
Inside I maintain commercial rat poison.

My run has food scraps 24/7.
My coop has food access 24/7.
Water access 24/7.

5 years, no sign of rats or mice...

Hope this helps.


 

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