I love backyard chickens but I’m definitely not a fan of mice and rats. Just because you have chickens in your backyard, doesn’t mean you also have to have mice or rats in your chicken coop. In most cases, it’s the spilt grain that attracts mice into the chicken coop. Once inside, the mice may discover that there’s also fresh water and may conclude that your chicken coop is actually quite cosy place to live! Of course these mice may not realise that chickens are actually omnivores, meaning that they consume both meat and vegetable material. If they’re quick enough, your chickens might even catch a mouse to snack on, although I wouldn’t rely on your chickens alone to keep your mouse problem under control. There are several preventative measures that should be undertaken to keep away these undesirable visitors.
Can I keep mice out of my chicken coop?
While the first, logical thing to do would be to prevent mice actually entering your chicken coop, this is much easier said than done! Mice can fit through very small spaces, so small that we may overlook potential access points because we assume that they’re too small. If you have a fixed chicken coop made with iron walls, a concrete floor and fine mesh, you may be able to keep them out. But if you’ve got a mobile chicken coop or you regularly free range your chickens, there’s likely to be a tiny gap somewhere for these determined creatures to find their way in. So physically keeping mice actually out of your chicken coop may not be really possible, but there’s still other ways to keep them under control.
Mice love spilt feed
One of the main ways to prevent mice coming into your chicken coop is to make sure that your chickens are not spilling feed onto the ground. As owners and manufacturers of ‘Royal Rooster’ mobile chicken coops, we regularly had customers asking for suggestions about how to prevent their chickens from scratching lots of grain onto the ground. Your chickens can cost you a great deal more than necessary in the way of chicken feed. Most chickens naturally love to scratch at their feed, which means a lot of it ends up on the ground and then wasted.
As we too were experiencing wasted grain with our chickens, we decided to design a feeder ourselves to overcome this problem. We’ve designed our feeders with special dividers in the middle of the feeding tray that discourage chickens from ‘swiping’ the feed onto the ground. Chickens will naturally try to sort their grain mix to find the tastiest piece of grain or seed. We’ve found that these feeders significantly reduce the wastage of grain. The chickens are forced to peck at the feed to eat it, rather than ‘explore’ the grain mix and make a great mess in the process.
We’ve found that having a feeder that prevents feed wastage is a key factor in keeping away the rats and mice. So while they may physically be able to come into your coop, if you can get your spilt grain under control, you’ll also have your mice problem under control.
To help get a mouse problem under control, you might decide to take away the chicken’s self-feeder for a period of time and simply scatter grain each morning. The problem with this of course is that chickens do much better if they have a regular, continuous supply of feed that they can access throughout the day. Feeders that are full of grain and stay in the chicken coop all day are really the only easy way to ensure they have a continuous supply available. Rather than scattering grain and taking away your feeder, it is much wiser to invest in a feeder that limits the amount of grain that is spilt which will then attract fewer mice.
How should I store my grain?
You also need to make sure that your grain or pellets are stored appropriately in a sealed container. Rats and mice can be fairly determined if they sniff out some food that they’re interested in. I’ve discovered a lost Tupperware container in our garage, hidden behind a cupboard, that was completely chewed through for the mice to gain access. Tough plastic or even wood is no problem for mice or rates. Be sure to purchase a strong container, ideally made of metal such as an old-fashioned garbage bin or 44-gallon drum to store your grain.
Looking for a quality, attractive mobile chicken coop? You can’t look past the quality, Australian-made coops from Royal Rooster.
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