The Cottage Smallholder

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We have rats in our chicken run

rat poisonPoultry and rats go together. The rats are attracted by the supplies of food and fresh water. We live in fat rat country. The village is surrounded by farms and studs that are a haven for rats.

Rats carry disease, in particular Wiles Disease. This is a killer. The disease is spread through contact with the excrement and urine of carrier rats. A garden pond can attract rats as they need access to water.

The disease can infect the tiniest scratch. So I always wear decent waterproof gloves when dealing with the chickens or pond and wash my hands well when I come indoors.

As soon as you spot evidence of rats around your chicken run, deal with them immediately. They breed rapidly and the longer that you ignore the problem the harder it will be to get rid of them as you will be trying to deal with many, many rats.

We don’t lock our hens in during the summer so that they can come and go as they please. The rats are generally out in the field around the village so are not a problem. After harvest, the rats will start to return to the village so we lock the flock in the hen house for the night to deter the rat invasion.

The hen’s grain feeder is permanently in the chicken house, to discourage small birds stealing the food. The hens also have a water fountain in the house. The rats are at their most active after dark. Hopefully the restaurant is closed when they decide to tootle out for dinner.

All this seems to work well but this year I have found tale tell gnawing of the wood at the base of the chicken run. These excavations can be repaired with flattened tin cans or fine mesh chicken wire (easily stapled in place).

We set the hen house on fine chicken wire so the rats can’t burrow in through the open floor. The canny vermin dug some open trenches under the wire and then shifted the grain from the feeder through the wire and into the trenches. I have stopped this handy drive-through by laying roof tiles over the floor. Bounty from a skip in Saffron Walden. The best tiles are slate as you can overlap them neatly.

We have used rat traps in the past (the ones designed for rats are a giant version of the mouse traps). We have caught a few rats but if you need to kill more than one or two it could be an extended waiting game as rats are intelligent.

Now we use the most effective rat poison that we can buy to control the rats. It’s expensive but does the trick. If you are going to go down this route you need to plan your strategy carefully. Laying down loads of poison once will not kill at your rats at once.

I put poison in every rat hole that I can find and cover the entrance with a brick or heavy tile. The bricks serve two purposes, they avert the disaster of the chickens or dogs eating the poison and also indicate whether the rats are still active as they will try and dig a new hole beside the brick. I keep on feeding the poison every day until the happy moment when I find that my tempting meal has been left untouched.

I wait a bit longer before I hang up my poisoning gloves. I check every rat hole each day for at least a week. If the poison is still untouched I have contained the problem. New rats will move in so it’s worth checking every week or so to keep on top of the problem.

Always wear gloves when you are handling poison. Store the gloves out of the way of dogs and cats. After pulling off your poisoning gloves always wash your hands at least twice. It’s lethal stuff.

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  1. Hi if you have a problem with rats and you don’t want to use poisons the best way is with a air rifle, I do a free vermin shooting service , I also have a web site explaining what services I do . So if you need any help with your vermin problems feel free to leave me a message and I will get back to you asp.

  2. Chris Mann

    Get a feral farm kitten! Our rats thrived on rat poison, but disappeared just 2 days after the kitten took up residence – when it was only about 6″ long, much smaller than the rats! He eventually became a house cat in his old age, but the chickens remained unmolested

  3. james Thorn

    Try The Roamwild PestOff Chicken Feeder – 100% rat proof.

  4. Hi i do free pest control with my air rifle much better than poision or any other metherd. Im in birmingham

  5. Hi, im aware this is very old but im hoping you can still help me!?
    I have a huge rat problem and today i noticed the chicken and duck eggs had been moved to the corner of the shed leaving a trail of eggs all along the way. Im sure its rats because there are rat droppings in there too. My question is should i eat the eggs or throw out the eggs? I know egg shells are porous but my partner thinks im over thinking things because our eggs have probably been walked over by rats a million times. Im so concerned because i bake cakes and sell them and i dont want to make anyone ill. Thanks for your help Jodi

  6. Mary kingham

    Thanks for the advice ,what is the best rat poison to use please.

  7. Michael Simmons

    About the cat……….I have gotten a working relationship with some cats as far as keeping down the squirrel attacks on my garden and bird feeders. But I still hate pulling weeds etc and getting a hand full of steaming cat poop. In my experience, your cats will kill every “easy” thing that moves before he will take on a rat. Not to mention the cat often cannot or will not go down after the rats. There is a reason that tiny dogs were used as rat killers.

  8. Michael Simmons

    Two reasons that I’m very careful with Rat poison is we had to twice, live months with the smell of dead Rats in our walls etc. Also, one of my dogs brought in a dead rat a couple of times. Those dead bodies are going to be around. Because of this, I’ve become very smart about my traps. You have to study anything you are after, even Tree Rats (Squirrels). I funnel them into trapped areas. And I always tie my traps down so they can’t take them away. Peanut butter and fruit works well as bait. When I use poison, I use a mix of chunky peanut butter with the poison that comes in tiny blocks. The black plastic traps that look like a clamp work better then the old wooden ones. After studying a new electric trap, I made my own out of a old battery charger. As he is going down a tube, the rats never sees the wire sticking out from each side, he just sees the bait. But when he connects with both, he is a goner.

    What some have said is 100%. If you see one there is 10 you do not see. And if you do not see any, trap anyway.

  9. In my humble opinion the best to rid your property of rats is to get a good cat. Ginger Toms make a good ratters as do tabbies Of course feed the cats but didn’t over fed them. try and get them from parents who were raised on farms or rescue cats.

  10. I have chickens and I’ve seen lots of rats running around my chicken coop and i’m afraid to use rat poison, is rat proof chicken feeder really help eliminate rats? I saw this link and looks like its a good feeder to have but not sure if it will work

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