Wonder if coop setup is what is attracting rats?


8 Years
Sep 4, 2011
Seattle, WA
Hi, this is my first post on Backyard Chickens and I am so happy to be here! Our girls are four months old and we have already started getting one egg from one of the chickens. Having chickens is a blast!

We have seen three small rats lately and today one was inside the coop. Here is the setup and please tell me what I should change.

We have a small coop (they've outgrown it and I'm building a new one) in which they go only at night. The girls free range during the day and make their way to the coop when the sun goes down.

The coop is under a carport and in front of a huge stack of wood (also under the carport).

The feed store recommended the use of straw for the coop, but the smell is awful. We are cleaning the coop out every three-four days, which means we have a lot of waste. A friend uses some kind of shavings and doesn't have to clean as often. I wonder if it's the smell that is attracting the rats. Could it be also the placement of the coop in front of the wood pile?

We are running out of room to dump the waste from the coop when we clean because we have to clean so often! We have a composter and I plan on getting a couple more, but I am tired of the rats, the smell and the flies.

Any tips or suggestions would be highly appreciated.

Many thanks!

Second: There are a lot of different things that people recommend for runs and coops. Some love the deep litter method while others swear by sand. Both look good to me. I would suggest doing a search so that you can read about how people feel about both and then try the one that you think will suit you and your family the best. Personally, When we finally complete our run it will be sand. Edited to add: Our coop has a pull out tray that we just sprinkle with what ever we have on hand to make the poo slide off better and clean daily.

Third: The wood pile probably doesn't help with the rats. When I was growing up the main source of heat for the house was a wood stove - we could see our breath when we woke up in the mornings - and all sorts of things made their homes in the huge piles we had stacked around.

Fourth: If you are leaving the chicken feed outside at night, it may be a good idea to put it away as it could draw rats and mice.

Hope I have helped a little.
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Thank you! You're right. I guess we will have to move the wood pile. Ugh. I can see how it can be a haven for rats. We didn't have a problem before, but the smell from the chickens is just another enticement.

We put the chicken feed inside the coop at night, and that's where we have seen the rat. One inside the coop during the day (we leave the coop open so the girls can go in and out) and there was another rat a few weeks ago scurrying under the coop toward the wood pile.

I have heard of sand being used so I think we will look into that.

Thanks for the tips!
Your rats are attracted to your feed and eventually will be drawn to your eggs as well. If you are seeing rats, then you have many more than you are seeing. I recommend placing some JustOneBite or something similar where other pets cannot access it and see if you can kill them.

As for your feed, it really helps if your stored feed is in galvanized trash cans and that you don't use continuous feeders. If you just feed once a day in the morning~for free rangers I feed in the evening so they will be encouraged to forage more all day~ and only feed what they will clean up in a day/evening meal, you won't attract as many rodents. Feeding laying mash instead of crumbles or pellets helps also, as they cannot stuff their cheeks full and carry mash back to their nest for storage and can only eat what they can consume at the time.

I'd use pine bedding and make sure you have plenty of ventilation... it sounds like you have too much bad smells for birds who free range all day. Especially if you are cleaning out every 2-3 days. Deep litter in coops with good ventilation can prevent having to clean out so often and also any bad smells you have from too much moisture. I'd also watch to see if your waterer isn't causing some excess moisture from spillage or leakage.
Would you consider adopting a cat? That would solve the rat problem.

We have a cat who catches all sorts of small rodents all the time.

My neighbor was recently complaining that the voles have been eating her lettuce and other veggies in her veggie garden all summer, and asking me if I had the same problem (she lives just two houses away). I realized then how great it is to have a good cat!

Disclaimer: we don't even have our chickens yet, still getting set up for them. Should hopefully have them in a couple of weeks though. Hoping the cat & dog do not present a hazard to them. Anyone else with a cat? Who could advise as to them getting along with chickens, and possibly being a solution for the rat problem?
I've never known any of my cats to catch and eat rats, only smaller rodents. My dog will if he catches them outside the buildings but they are pretty crafty about running along the roofs of the buildings and hopping from one to the other to access food sources.

My cat loved to make a game out of chasing the chickens but never tried to actually catch one and he seemed quite scared of the chicks.
He is a huge yellow tabby tuxedo cat and is the biggest sissy in the world. We called him Spike to butch him up a little....great hunter but will let kittens steal his mouse when he gets it home.
Hi, we have two cats. They are afraid of the chickens. The older cat chases mice and the younger one doesn't know how. Our black lab loves the chickens. We introduced them to her when they were chicks. She was curious but we trained her to be nice and now she tries to play with them. If she's laying on the grass, they will come and walk all over her. She's good at chasing the crows away!

What Beekissed said about seeing one rat meaning there are more. I agree. I am working on quickly getting the coop situation straightened out. We will be moving the wood pile to another part of the yard and keeping the coop clear of anything that might provide a hiding place for rats. We also have raccoons in the area, eagles and hawks. But the dog is good at protecting the girls and we keep an eye on them as well. I am more concerned about the rats.

The feed is kept in galvanized containers inside our shed which is predator proof, but we do have a continuous feeder. It looks like I still am not close to getting this thing straightened out!
Your welcome

The less places for the rats to hide/live in the better.

Also, You could look around for the rats trails. If you can find their paths, then you might be able to find where else they are living/hiding and be able to more accurately target any pest control measures.

I only have a few chickens so I bring my chicken food into the utility room at night. Since the rats are getting into the coop area is there a place that is more secure/harder for the rats to get to that you could move the feeder into at night for a while? If you can cut off or severly limit the chicken food that they have access to then it would also make it easier on you to get rid of them.

I hope that you are able to solve your problem soon!
My Border collies do great with all my animals....cats goats , horses, chickens,kittens! My four month old kitten killed a rat this morning. We also use the poison that doesn't injure our dogs and cats with secondary exposure. My cats have done a great job with rodent patrol! Good luck and Welcome!!!
Hi, seattleattic! I'm practically your neighbor in Tacoma WA!

About the woodpile - we bought some firewood racks at Walmart that keep the firewood up off the ground and put them so they are freestanding (not leaning up against a wall)

http://www.walmart.com/ip/Landmann-8-Firewood-Rack/10055917 They go in & out of stock often.

We just got them a year ago, so can't make any guarantees, but my theory was if it was up off the ground, fewer critters would be tempted to live there.

And about the coop smell, we use equine pellets (compressed pine) and sprinkle diatomicious (sp?) earth and have no smell. Del's Farm Supply sells both.

We had a lot of rats earlier this year, but I put out 3 different types of poison (careful to put them where pets/chickens can't get them) and seems to have wiped them out.

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