Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Rodents: Part 2

Photo courtesy of  Picture of House Mouse 

There are things you can do on a day-to-day basis to decrease the number of rodents on your property, or keep them from setting up shop.  Many people have other animals or pets that they house along with their chickens, and prefer not to use bait.  Here are some of the things you can do, without using bait, to reduce rodent populations.

1.  Get rid of places for rodents to hide and nest.  Yes, it is time for spring cleaning! 
  • Throw away or store empty feed bags.
  • Remove loosely piled building materials, miscellaneous equipment and loose garbage.  Anything that rodents can hide or nest in.
  • Keep grass cut neatly at least 3 feet around the coop and buildings.  This is called an apron.  Rodents don’t like to be out in the open, and helps in detecting any new rodent burrows.
  • Remove weeds- weeds give rodents food, water, nesting material, and cover from predators.

2.  Remove access to food.
  • Clean up spilled feed.
  • Always store feed in a covered, metal container.  30 and 55-gallon industrial drums are great for storing feed and can often be purchased from farm-supply dealers.  If a metal drum cannot be found, use a metal trash can with a tight lid.
  • Reduce feed spills by placing feeders so the lip of the feeder is around the height of the average sized bird’s back.  The best way to do this is to hang the feeders.

3.  Remove water sources
  • Eliminate sources of water, such as leaky taps, open water troughs, sweating pipes, and open drains.
  • Drinkers should be removed from sitting on the ground for easy mice/rat access.  The lip of the drinker should be at the level of the average birds back.  Taking drinkers off the ground will also help with water sanitation, and decrease the amount of water spilled onto the ground.
  • At night, you may want to remove the bird’s water, unless it is very warm and muggy.  Birds don’t often drink water at night, and rodents are generally nocturnal.

If a rodent population is already established on your property, doing just the things mentioned above won’t solve your problem.  Consider a population-reduction program, the topic of our next post!

A Practical Guide for Managing Risk in Poultry Production.  2011.  Robert L. Owen, Editor.  Published by the American Association of Avian Pathologists.

“Rodent Control: 7 ways to keep mice and rats out of the coop” Mike Wilhite

Animal Damage Management, Dept. of Entomology, “Controlling rodents in Commercial Poultry Facilities” Judy Loven and Ralph Williams, Purdue University, Publication ADM-3-W

Rodent Control in Livestock and Poultry facilities, G.A. Surgeoner

“What you need to know about rodent control” Weibe ban der Sluis

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