By: Kerry Mundt
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! While both mice and chickens love grain and seeds, chickens are actually omnivores, which means they also eat meat. This means that a mouse that is a bit slow running through the coop, might find that he becomes a light snack for one of your chickens. I wouldn’t however, rely on your chickens to keep your mouse problem under control. There are several preventative measures that should be undertaken to keep away these undesirable visitors.
Can I physically keep mice out of my chicken coop?
The first thing that you might think to do is to try to physically keep mice out of your chicken coop. This, however, is quite difficult to actually achieve. Mice can fit into spaces we would never assume they would be able to gain access. 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.
Preventing spilt grain
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. Chickens can waste a lot of grain by scratching it onto the ground, which costs a lot of money and also attracts wild birds and rodents.
To be honest, we were also having issues with our chickens wasting lots of feed. We were determined to overcome this problem and so decided to design our own feeders. 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. Unfortunately, chickens do much better if they have a regular, continuous supply of feed that they can access throughout the day. Self-feeders are really the only easy way to ensure they have a continuous supply available. Rather than taking away the self-feeder all together, it is much wiser to invest in a feeder that limits the amount of grain spilt.
Keeping your supply of feed away from mice
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. Several years ago I discovered a lost Tupperware container in our garage, hidden behind a cupboard, that was completely chewed through for the mice to gain access to the food that was hiding inside. Tough plastic or even wood is not a problem for rodents. Be sure to purchase a strong container, ideally made of metal, 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.