Page 1 of 2

rats in the chicken coop

Posted: Sat Oct 18, 2014 8:51 pm
by dave45
I've been having a rat problem in the chicken coop - they keep raiding the chickens' feed, proliferating and raiding more. When I saw 6 in there one day, I decided to declare RatWars. As well as the baitbox outside the coop with ratpoison, I bought a .177 Webley Rebel pump-action airgun from the local gun shop. I read that rats have a superb sense of smell but poor and colourblind eyesight... so I put the food out and sat in a chair downwind(ish) with the gun on my lap waiting.....
20 minutes later I spy a rat pop up outside the wire for a look.. and disappear. 5 minutes later it (or a friend) runs up the corner post fencing (I have narrow welded-mesh underground to about 40cm high) and pokes itself through the cheaper wider-mesh fence above. BAM I shoot it, but it survives and legs it...these beasties ar fast ! A week later the same thing happens again.

0:2 to the rats.

I am fairly sure I hit both, but I am beginning to doubt my aim. I did tune the sights spot on but..... Next weekend I spy one under the henhouse sneaking out towards the food. BAM, I get this one too, this time too bad for it to leg it, so finish it off - takes 3 pellets... these guys are TOUGH.

I figure out that all this is too much like hard work, so buy some "humane" rat traps off ebay - basically some welded mesh fencing made into a box with a bent paperclip trigger, springs and galvanised. Much better. Baited with cheese or old bread crusts seems to work equally well. Once trapped - firing squad. Even at point-blank range it can take several direct hits to kill them. They must have very leathery skins!

The score is now 6:2 and the chicken feed is lasting longer.

What do other chicken-keepers do about rats? Everyone I know who keeps chickens has a rat problem.

Re: rats in the chicken coop

Posted: Sun Oct 19, 2014 6:42 am
by diggernotdreamer
You need to reduce the amount of food you have in your run. My hens get fed twice a day and get enough food for them to clear in about ten minutes, if you have food lying down all day, they are getting far to much to eat, give each hen a good handful each in the morning and then again later on, if they eat this quickly then the rats won't get a look in. I do not have a rat problem and I believe good housekeeping will keep them away, my feed is kept in galvanised dustbins. I do however, have a huge problem with rooks, maybe the rooks have eaten all the rats

Re: rats in the chicken coop

Posted: Sun Oct 19, 2014 10:07 am
by ina
The possibility of attracting rats is one of the many reasons I've not taken any steps to get hens... Especially as I live in a council house. What if I ask for permission to keep chickens, and they say no because the expect a rat problem?! Does anybody here have experience with the council on this issue? (I think I could keep rats at bay - would keep any spare feed in the house, only feed small quantities as mentioned above, or use one of those feeders where the hens release the feed by stepping on a spring or whatever...)

Re: rats in the chicken coop

Posted: Sun Oct 19, 2014 10:33 am
by Green Aura
I hadn't realised you'd need permission for a few backyard hens, ina. But I'm guessing that each Council area will have their own rules. I know a lot of areas don't allow cockerels, because of the noise.

Does it say anything on your rent agreement?

Re: rats in the chicken coop

Posted: Sun Oct 19, 2014 3:25 pm
by ojay54
The rats follow the food,so if you feed the chickens just as much as they will eat at one go,(maybe a couple of times a day) you will all but eliminate the problem.If you have half a dozen or so,then I'd consider keeping their feed indoors in airtight metal containers(old Swarfega drums are excellent).You need a .22 air rifle to kill them humanely,but a Jack Russell is more fun.

Re: rats in the chicken coop

Posted: Sun Oct 19, 2014 5:03 pm
by doofaloofa
Shotgun

your only man

Re: rats in the chicken coop

Posted: Mon Oct 20, 2014 10:11 am
by ina
Green Aura wrote:I hadn't realised you'd need permission for a few backyard hens, ina. But I'm guessing that each Council area will have their own rules. I know a lot of areas don't allow cockerels, because of the noise.

Does it say anything on your rent agreement?


I am allowed one pet - even for a second cat I'd need permission... :roll:

And cockerels I wouldn't even dream of.

Well, I could only try and explain all the measures I'd take and hope to be talking to somebody who has at least a minimum of common sense. Not something I've come across a lot at the council, I must admit.

Need to get a shed sorted first... That's difficult enough.

Re: rats in the chicken coop

Posted: Mon Oct 20, 2014 2:04 pm
by Green Aura
ina wrote:even for a second cat I'd need permission... :roll:


Blimey - we'd be evicted, we've got 4! :lol:

Re: rats in the chicken coop

Posted: Wed Oct 22, 2014 7:16 pm
by doofaloofa

Re: rats in the chicken coop

Posted: Thu Oct 23, 2014 7:56 am
by boboff
You could look at getting different pellets.

I have some which are well hollow point tips, they kill well. Not sure why. It says it on the tin too.

I also agree, don't leave food out,= no rats in run.

Re: rats in the chicken coop

Posted: Thu Oct 23, 2014 8:48 am
by Flo
Shades of the precautions our pigeon men on the allotments take to avoid rats. They do use rat bait as well but we are very rural and the rats come through anyway looking for warm places on the allotments.

Re: rats in the chicken coop

Posted: Sat Oct 25, 2014 10:46 pm
by dave45
I take the point about excessive food in the coop.

However this time of year the apples are falling off the trees and there is other (rotting) food about and the buggers are invading the rest of the garden too... rat-holes appearing all over the place... these "humane traps" are just brill... just drop the captured rat in a bucket of water, no pellets required.

Score is seven as of this morning. and I saw a baby rat leg it out of the coop this morning - unable to do anything as I wasn't armed.... I'm in for the long haul by the looks... a target-rich environment

Re: rats in the chicken coop

Posted: Sun Oct 26, 2014 8:42 am
by doofaloofa
is drowning a humane death?

Re: rats in the chicken coop

Posted: Sun Oct 26, 2014 8:56 am
by diggernotdreamer
No it is not, and to be honest, I think that no living creature should be subjected to this treatment. If you have a very bad rat problem, you can call in the council pest control for not very much money and have the problem dealt with humanely and effectively.

Re: rats in the chicken coop

Posted: Sun Oct 26, 2014 11:28 am
by ojay54
Round here the Council Rat men are free of charge (albeit ,a bit weird).I take the point about drowning,but TBH,ratbait isn't that humane either.