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Author Topic: Rats in my enclosure  (Read 968 times)

Paul and Caroline

  • Joined Apr 2014
Rats in my enclosure
« on: December 22, 2016, 09:10:08 am »
Looking for help/guidance/advice  re rats. We have now started seeing rats in our poultry enclosure when we take the food and water in at night. I am a bit confused as to what I am legally allowed to use to eradicate them - I don't have an Airgun and I couldn't hit a barn door if I was sitting in the handle even if I did have one, so I think I am going to have to look at the poison option unfortunately - can anybody offer any constructive advice please?

harmony

  • Joined Feb 2012
Re: Rats in my enclosure
« Reply #1 on: December 22, 2016, 09:29:51 am »
Buy the bait blocks and nail them to pieces of wood so they can eat them but not drag them around. Have a look around and see where they have runs. Could be under your hut or in walls. If you can find these you can drop the bait directly into them. Place the bait where nothing else can get to it. Or buy traps and bait them but then you have to deal with a live rat.

Piggerswiggers

  • Joined Jul 2015
Re: Rats in my enclosure
« Reply #2 on: December 22, 2016, 10:25:14 am »
We've also had a rat problem this year, I know they're always around but once the wheat field was harvested we were seeing 3 or 4 at a time around the chickens' enclosure. We'd controlled them with poison before, using bait boxes in similar way to that described by Harmony. The problem was this time they just wouldn't take it. We came to the conclusion that there was too much other food around (including my sweet potato crop).
Anyway we rehomed some feral cats from RSPCA and they now live in the goat house where we'd also seen a couple of rats despite the goats' food being contained in metal bins. Now we haven't seen any live rats for some time, nor any rat poo around the chickens. I know this isn't a solution that would work for everybody but it certainly seems to have sorted our problem.
If you do use poison, and as I said that's what we did in the past, please make sure you check for dead rats regularly as the poison will also harm wildlife if they eat the corpse.

Eve

  • Joined Jul 2010
Re: Rats in my enclosure
« Reply #3 on: December 22, 2016, 10:38:53 am »
Echo all of the above. There was a large rat in our garden last week in broad daylight, so out came the bait boxes which were filled with poison blocks and covered with lengths of timber and bricks. I'd suggest you get bags of 100 blocks or so, you'll get through that in no time. We also use several bait boxes. A bit of a cost but they last for ages. Keep putting the poison out until it no longer gets taken.


I've used little bags with rat poison in the past but they contain small pellets, the size of chicken feed, so I don't like using them as they're too easily strewn around and then eaten by other animals. They got eaten in no time, though, they smelled of something really nice (liquorice or something, can't quite remember).


A few years ago when we first got rats digging in I had to google what rat runs looked like 'cause I didn't know what had made those little tunnels. Soon learned to spot them from miles away  ;)  We've covered the floor of most of our runs with 1/2inch weldmesh which stops them digging under (the walls have the same mesh), we were horrified to see they can dig 3ft in one night!  :o

twizzel

  • Joined Apr 2012
Re: Rats in my enclosure
« Reply #4 on: December 22, 2016, 10:48:45 am »
Be aware that the law on buying rat bait has changed now and unless you have done the rat bait course or are Farm Assured then you are limited on what bait you can buy- no more than 1.5kg for amateur use. We use bait bags normally pushed under right the house, rats need shelter so under houses/in walls, banks etc is normally where they hang out. Found a beauty dead one in my chicken enclosure the other day, glad he wasn't alive, we have some real lousters on the farm  >:(

chrismahon

  • Joined Dec 2011
  • Gascony, France
Re: Rats in my enclosure
« Reply #5 on: December 22, 2016, 11:32:14 am »
One thing we have never risked anywhere near the chicken enclosure, or outside anywhere for that matter, is any kind of poison. We used to use large snap traps under ridge tiles but once caught a hedgehog and have never used them since.


We now stick to live traps and an air gun to despatch. A Crosman 2240, which is a gas powered full power .22 air pistol will cost £80 or less and a treadle trap will be around £30.

harmony

  • Joined Feb 2012
Re: Rats in my enclosure
« Reply #6 on: December 22, 2016, 11:37:09 am »
Be aware that the law on buying rat bait has changed now and unless you have done the rat bait course or are Farm Assured then you are limited on what bait you can buy- no more than 1.5kg for amateur use. We use bait bags normally pushed under right the house, rats need shelter so under houses/in walls, banks etc is normally where they hang out. Found a beauty dead one in my chicken enclosure the other day, glad he wasn't alive, we have some real lousters on the farm  >:(


Twizzel is quite right about how much you can buy unless you have "done the course" or our feed merchant asks for a farm assured number BUT you can buy as many 1.5 kg boxes as you need in any one go!

Marches Farmer

  • Joined Dec 2012
  • Herefordshire
Re: Rats in my enclosure
« Reply #7 on: December 22, 2016, 12:31:27 pm »
If you can keep watch downwind and very quietly at dusk you'll probably be able to see where they're coming from.  You can then pour a small amount of bait down the hole, say half a teacup, mixed with the pellets they're used to eating.  Rats are neophobic but in my experience rarely pass up dinner when it's put in front of their noses.  I put a few dead leaves in the entrance and a V-shaped ridge tile over the hole to stop birds taking the bait.  I keep rebaiting every other night for a week, if the leaves are disturbed to show the nest is still in use.  Then I stop so they'll hopefully start eating their store.  If the leaves are still disturbed each night I carry on for another week.  I've never had to do this for a third time.

landroverroy

  • Joined Oct 2010
Re: Rats in my enclosure
« Reply #8 on: December 22, 2016, 12:58:53 pm »
 I notice you said - "when we take the food and water in at night." Presumably then you leave ad lib food out all day and then just remove what the birds haven't eaten at the end of the day. Therefore the rats have an all day food supply and you will therefore become the free cafe for all the rats in the area. Obviously there are rats there if you feed them or not. But the ready supply of food will encourage them to stay (and multiply) instead of moving on elsewhere to richer pickings. I would suggest then, just feeding the birds morning and evening - just as much as they will eat in one go.
 You may think it's difficult to accurately assess their needs and worry about them going hungry. However, on average a laying bird needs about 2oz of meal/pellets per day. This = @ 1handful. I have Bluebells (a hybrid) and give them 2 heaped handfuls each in their feeder in the morning - I have small hands. This seems enough to last till late afternoon, so there is nothing left for the rats in the evening. They seem to lay alright on this amount but would need less if they weren't laying. If I were around in the afternoon I would give 2 feeds, ensuring the last was eaten before night time.
 Obviously you need to get rid of the rats already there and I agree with what's been said about poisoning them.
life's too short to be boring.

stufe35

  • Joined Jan 2013
Re: Rats in my enclosure
« Reply #9 on: December 22, 2016, 02:06:23 pm »
Rats,
What we have found is that its best to constantly manage the risk of rats to prevent them setting up home with us. Once you get to the point you actually see a rat they have been there a while and there will be more than one. 

We live on a small holding and have a dozen or so hens, we are surrounded by arable farm land.

Mostly we are unbothered by rats but every now and again we will see evidence of their presence, often as mentioned by a poster above just after harvest when they have all been disturbed by the combining/ cultivation process on the fields.

We manage to keep them at bay using the following techniques :-

1.As far as possible make sure there are no food sources for them .  (no food source = no rats)

•   We store our hen food in bins with tight fitting lids which are always on unless we are using them.
•    We have proper scoops for transferring food from the bins to buckets to minimise/eliminate spillage of food in the storage shed.
•   New bags of food are transferred to the secure bins asap.
•   In the hen hut after our last rat visitation we took the plunge and bought one of the Grandpa type feeders which means there is not an ab-lib supply of food for the rats in the hen hut. They work with a treddle and require the weight of a hen to open the feeder and access the food.  http://www.grandpasfeeders.co.uk/products?gclid=CJ2No431h9ECFUI8GwodsmUM0Q There are a number of people now doing this kind of thing if you google them.  We happened to pick ours up second hand at a farm sale. They are expensive..but weighed up against the cost of poison and the hen food you supply to the rats it’s a no brainer.


2. Have predators ready to eliminate new arrivals. 

•   A few feral cats (or any cats) knocking about is an excellent thing. We have about 3 or 4 at any point in time..a couple we have got from friends (domestic type) and a few which migrate from the farm across the field…that are feral and have adopted us as they get better fed here !.  They are not allowed in the house but have access to plenty of sheds and are always fed there. I have seen them take rats. (quite honestly one cat would be enough.)
•   Have a trap set at all times.  Rats are wise creatures and are wary of anything new. So setting a trap after they’ve arrived takes time to be effective.  I have a traditional type sprung trap (large mouse trap). To avoid animals i don’t want getting caught in it, it is positioned in the hen hut in a small wooden box (which I made from scrap timber), with a removable lid and a rat sized hole in 2 corners of the box.  It has hen food dribbled around in the box. Rats love cover and this gives them it ..with a nasty surprise ! It is there all the time.
•   I haven’t had to resort to poison…but if you do use proper plastic box applicators that again prevent access to other animals and do daily patrols for dead rats.


3. Have as little cover for them as possible.

•   You will never stop rats getting under a hen hut…our hen huts are set up on blocks, so that the cats can get under too.
•   Our nest boxes are set up off the floor of the hen hut…so cats can get under too.
•   Our sheds all have an open door or window or bob hole where the cats can get in and out as they please…so they are always on patrol.
•   As far as possible reduce cover in your sheds, leave gaps that fit cats when stacking /storing things,  clear up loose bedding and old feed bags as you go along so places they can shelter and hide are eliminated.

Hope these thoughts are of help.  cheers  stu

One more..if you have a current infestation it could be worth getting someone with a terrier round.
« Last Edit: December 22, 2016, 02:42:32 pm by stufe35 »

Steph Hen

  • Joined Jul 2013
  • Angus Scotland.
Re: Rats in my enclosure
« Reply #10 on: December 23, 2016, 05:47:36 pm »
All good advice!  I have a cage trap which I like, it's a live, multi catch type. It has an entrance like a lobster pot and then a trapdoor into the cage proper. I leave it open with food in it for a few days and then set it with food. Have caught a few. But then I shoot with air rifle.

Ditto fenn traps, caught a kitten and It was awful! They were set in a tunnel about 3" square, I never would have thought a tiny cat would go down there! I still have them, but don't think I'll ever use them again.

My goats got into a bait station a while ago and I had to look up the lethal doses for diff animals. I seem to remember reading that chickens can take a fair bit, but look it up yourself as I can't remember properly. Goats only had a wee bit and were fine. Contractor was VERY sorry!

stufe35

  • Joined Jan 2013
Re: Rats in my enclosure
« Reply #11 on: December 23, 2016, 06:24:49 pm »
I was told if you catch a rat in a cage trap you should simply leave it there as it will lure others.

BrimwoodFarm

  • Joined May 2016
    • Brimwood Farm
    • Facebook
Re: Rats in my enclosure
« Reply #12 on: December 24, 2016, 11:14:18 am »
Must be the time of year as I've just sat and watched a rat crawl out from under the shed and scamper through the avairy which houses my quails. Time to put some this advice into action!

Celli

  • Joined Jun 2016
  • Fife
Re: Rats in my enclosure
« Reply #13 on: December 24, 2016, 11:27:00 am »
It's not rats with me, it's a mink ( or yet another juvenile otter ) climbing up the side of my pen this morning !.
Hens were in a right fangle, hopefully they'll be safe , unless it is an otter and bites through the mesh.

BrimwoodFarm

  • Joined May 2016
    • Brimwood Farm
    • Facebook
Re: Rats in my enclosure
« Reply #14 on: December 24, 2016, 11:33:17 am »
It's not rats with me, it's a mink ( or yet another juvenile otter ) climbing up the side of my pen this morning !.
Hens were in a right fangle, hopefully they'll be safe , unless it is an otter and bites through the mesh.

Oh gosh. That IS a worry. I had a rate decimate my aviary bird population one by one once, but a mink and chickens....not a good mix.  :-\

 

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