Rodents, coop, and brooding

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by TimM, Sep 23, 2013.

  1. TimM

    TimM Out Of The Brooder

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    Sep 8, 2010
    I am strongly considering converting a shed on my property to a chicken coop by adding nest boxes and roosting bars. However, I know that small rodents like mice and chipmunks will find their way in when they smell grain. I'm especially concerned because I would like to brood some chicks in there by building about a 4' square pen on the floor.

    One part of me is very worried about rodents, but then I think about the coops I see, both driving around my rural community and in pictures posted here and elsewhere. I'll bet barely one in three working coops is rodent-proof.

    So my question(s):

    What, if any, legitimate concerns do I have about rodents interacting with my chickens? Naturally I keep the feed in sealed metal containers, and the feeder would hang from the ceiling on a chain. But am I missing anything important? Especially if I brood chicks on a makeshift pen on the floor? Thanks!

    Tim
     
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    I sincerely doubt if 1 in 10 working coops are truly rodent proof. Mice especially are practically impossible to keep out.

    If your chickens can catch them, they will enjoy eating mice. If the mouse is too big for that chicken to swallow whole, they will peck it to pieces and eat the pieces. Chickens will do the same thing to frogs and small snakes. Mine can catch frogs and snakes easier than mice though. So there is one possible interaction – free protein.

    Mice or other rodents will eat the chicken feed in the feeders or any in the bedding if it spills. They mainly do this at night when the chickens are roosting, though you might occasionally see a mouse active during the day. So there is another problem. You are buying feed for the mice.

    You have to realize that just because something might possibly happen does not mean it will for absolute sure 100% always happen each and every time. Keep that in mind when I say that mice or other rodents can possibly spread diseases. It doesn’t happen that often but it can, especially through their droppings which chickens will eat. Most diseases are species specific. A disease that affects a mouse usually won’t bother chickens, but there are always exceptions. You need to try to keep the rodent population under control, even if you cannot 100% eliminate it.

    Rats will eat eggs and kill and eat baby chicks. You don’t want rats around at all. If you see any, take drastic steps to get rid of them. Chipmunks and squirrels will too but they are usually not as dangerous as rats. Mice are generally not a threat to eggs or chicks.

    I can’t give any guarantees that mice will never bother a chick, but I would not let the though t of mice prevent me from brooding chicks in there. My brooder is in the coop. Chicks go out there straight from the incubator. I know I have mice in my coop. I kept traps set and get some, plus at night I occasionally see one scurrying away when I turn on the light. I’ve never had a problem with them bothering my chicks.
     
  3. TimM

    TimM Out Of The Brooder

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    Sep 8, 2010
    Riderunner - Wow, thanks for the thoughtful and detailed answer. I love this place and the people here! I especially liked this, which I never would have thought:

    >> If your chickens can catch them, they will enjoy eating mice. <<

    Yeah!

    We have four dogs that run free often, so I bet there aren't many rats around. Still, I'll watch for them. It's nice to know that mice are usually not a serious problem. I built two coops (both on display in the coops section here), and I bet they are both totally mouse-proof. The floor is 3/4" plywood, all joints are glued and screwed, and the doors fit tight, with overlapping flanges. But this shed, formerly used just for storing junk that should be tossed anyway, will make a fine big coop with a little work. Unfortunately, I know I'll never keep mice out of it!

    Tim
     
  4. Hokum Coco

    Hokum Coco Overrun With Chickens

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    New Brunswick,Canada
     

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