Rats/outdoor feeders?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by Moselle, Jan 22, 2008.

  1. Moselle

    Moselle Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm still making my chicken tractor plans. I will not be keeping their food/water in the house, but want to keep it relatively safe in the run area. I was planning to hook their feed to the side wall of the run or hang it from the top. Will I need to remove their feeder every night? Can rats/squirrels/other beasties get into a hanging feeder? I'm not as concerned about losing the food as I am about sicknesses spread from rats. I'm resigned to the fact that there will probably not be a way to completely keep them out of the run, but I may attach a fine mesh "skirt" to the bottom. There are a couple of "neighborhood cats" that wander about, and hopefully they will help some.

    I've also read the sugar/oats/plaster of paris remedy, and am only concerned that our neighborhood will become strewn with dead squirrels. Maybe my imagination is getting the better of me. [​IMG]
     
  2. TheMartianChick

    TheMartianChick Chillin' With My Peeps

    I am new to BYC.com and don't have any chickens right now, but I will share what I know from my childhood experience.

    When I was a kid, I went out to feed our ducks a snack one evening. My father had just fed them their daily rations and the sky was really starting to darken. As I got closer to the duck pen, I was briefly confused...It seemed that we had more than 26 ducks. They were crowded around the feeders, jockeying for position. Just I was about to open the pen, I realized that half of the population was made up of rats. They were chowing down side by side with the ducks. It was one of the nastiest things that I had ever seen in my life up to that point.

    We started feeding the ducks earlier, while it was still daylight. It didn't really make a difference...The rats still came after dusk to glean any food that the ducks missed.

    The problem was with the design of the pen. My dad had built it with chicken wire and the holes in the fencing were large enough to allow rats and mice to gain entrance. Rats can jump and climb.The solution was to put up another layer of wire with smaller holes and to adopt a stray cat to patrol.

    If there is food...the rats will come for it unless there is something to make it impossible. The neighborhood cats will probably be your chickens new best friends!
     
  3. edster951

    edster951 Chillin' With My Peeps

    i noticed rats eating my chook food from the feeder as well.

    I now put enough feed in for 10-15minutes of eating.

    What ever is left I take away. I do this 2-3 times a day.

    However my chooks are free range in a huge fenced of area of the yard so they can forage all day. The layer pellets supplements thier free ranging.

    Rats have declined since I took the food away and if I see rats (I sit at dusk with an air rifle) I shoot it. Rats won't go for poison bait if there is food around.
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2008
  4. krturpie

    krturpie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    in my case the rats have gone underground. we only see them at night and they dig tunnels under the coop and run like their building a mass transit system. they've significantly changed the terrain within the run, with ruts and holes from sunken tunnels. you'd think that we'd had an army of ground hogs and gophers. We've tried digging and destroying every tunnel we can find, but we just can find the rats during the day.

    the amazing thing is that we had rabbits in the same pen for seven years and there never was a single rat seen in there. in fact i built the pen so that the coated steel mesh went several inches below ground to keep the rabbits from digging out. for some reason, the rats have discovered after so many years that they can out dig the rabbits.

    i've been afraid to put down poison for obvious reasons. but if i don't get rid of the rats soon, there's a good chance that a county inspector will find them and they will put down poison on my property. they did it twice before to take out some rats that had burrowed under my paved driveway (i think they thought that they're doing me a favor). the second time they did it, those rats had been gone a year. but they did it anyway, just in case, and left me a note on my door. btw, that all started b/c i had foolishly called the county to ask "how do you get rid of rats?" never asked the county for anything again.

    anyway, so does this grain/plaster of paris thing really work on rats???
     
  5. willheveland

    willheveland Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If you have rats around,I'd try to get rid of them quick.Even if you didn't have chickens.They are no good for anything.
    Depending on the type of tractor you build you probably will be moving it around alot,feeding,watering and getting eggs.I think as long as there is alot of activity throughout the day you shouldn't have alot of problems.I think that the coops that are permanant and have little human activity are more apt to have problems.(because they will always be in the same place)I hang my feeders kinda high so it would have to be a big rat to get the feed but,still might just go for the food dropped on the ground.
    I came home from work after a 12 hour day to find a dirt track circle around the perimeter of one of my tractors.I thought it would be a fox that ran around the pen chasing the chickens around trying to get in.I just laid some metal victor traps around the pen for a few days.I never saw any more signs after that.I think the fox,smart as they are,knew not to come around anymore after seeing signs of someone being there.They too have to watch out for predators.
    But if you got rats get rid of them soon. Will
     
  6. krturpie

    krturpie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks Will for you advice. I really would like to get rid of the rats. If anything, they're destroying our whole set up with their earthworks alone.

    Our run is the proverbial brick outhouse and it's about as permanent as it gets. eight 4' 6x6 treated posts sunk ~18" and anchored in concrete, 2x2 treated lattice work fences in between, and coated steel mesh on the inside that goes down about 6" to 8" underground. we also have pyramidal frame built on top with more mesh and a lockable hinged gate. it was designed to keep wascally wabbits, in and predators out, and it was very effective for the several years that we had rabbits.

    Now, we keep chickens in there. However, unlike the bunnies, they've attracted rats... big time. We are active around the coop and pen during the day and lock up the feeder with the chickens inside the coop at night. The chickens do manage to scatter a lot of food about.

    The rats started digging under the fence and coop during the night. I think that they're the city variety (we're not too far from an urban area), so I don't think they care whether humans are around or not. They've undermined a lot of the structure with their ubiquitous tunnels, which we keep trying to fill. We got some Victor rat traps, but we haven't caught any yet. I think it's been so cold lately, they've been mostly hibernating. But as soon as the temp gets above 30 degs or so, a new hole or tunnel appears.

    I've consider flooding one of those holes with water and letting it freeze solid the next drop in temps; maybe even drown a few in the process or at least make it more difficult for them to re-dig. I hope the traps will get a few too, but I think poison may be the only thing that would wipe them out. However, I can't use that for obvious reasons. I was wondering if the grain/plaster of paris trick might work better. Any ideas?
     
  7. eggzettera

    eggzettera Chillin' With My Peeps

    Rats dislike Peppermint, a fact that is made use of by ratcatchers, who, when clearing a building of rats, will block up most of their holes with rags soaked in oil of Peppermint and drive them by ferrets through the remaining holes into bags.

    From here: http://botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/m/mints-39.html

    Plant
    peppermint around the coop. In containers - it is invasive

    Weird but it does work, first heard about it on Dave's Garden. Lady had problem with rats in her greenhouse so she put the peppermint oil out but she forget to leave them a way out so she incurred alot of screen damage from them escaping.

    Edit to add it is an invasive plant.....
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 12, 2008
  8. krturpie

    krturpie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Well, I tried some peppermint extract, but it didn't chase them out. Maybe I should have used more (i.e., rags soaked in...), but I couldn't get the smell out of my nose or off my hands for hours.

    Anyway, I finally resorted to putting a poison tablet in a hole outside the run last Friday. I showed the bright green thing to my DD and told her to watch for anything this color (or a dead rat) showing up in the pen before she let's the birds out in the morning.

    DW wasn't very happy. She was concerned that any of the other zillion predators around, particularly the ubiquitous hawks, would nab a poisoned rat. I assured her that the rats are only out at night and the hawks predate during daylight. However, that very night what shows up but a huge barn owl [​IMG]. I tried to shoo it away, but it wouldn't budge. After I went in, it grabbed the first rat that came out and left. I didn't have any problems with the owls! [​IMG]

    The next morning, we found one dying, young rat (almost mouse size) in the run. Haven't seen anything else since. [​IMG]
     
  9. lcountry

    lcountry Out Of The Brooder

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    May 11, 2007
    We've got rats/mice in our chicken coop as well. Bunches of the creatures. I'm considering adopting a cat or two, but will they hurt the chickens?
     
  10. Moselle

    Moselle Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jan 17, 2008
    I will definitely get some peppermint plants. I don't suppose it would hurt the chickens if they ate some of it, either. I've never actually seen any rats in our area, but we live in the suburbs and if they are around, they probably hide pretty well. We've had occassional mice in our garage. I'm hoping some neighborhood cats will make their way around to our house at night. At this point I don't think I'm willing to use serious rat poison because I have little children who just love to get into everything.

    I think I'll put the food and water in the henhouse after all, with extra water outside in the summer. If the chickens are safely locked inside at night, I won't worry too much about the other critters.
     

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