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Rats

 
Posts: 67
Location: NorCal
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I have needed to fix my auto water for my chickens for a few days, just hadn't gotten to it.  1/3 of the coop was now Chicken lake.  My husband helped me fix it. With our super hard water it is on going problem.  By the time we finished it's 10pm. I go out to hook it up, and when I open the door I see 6 rats run to get out.  6 too many!  We live in the middle of a walnut orchard on one side and almond orchard on the other so mice and rats are part of the package,. We do what we can to keep their numbers down.  Before we would put out decon where our animals and children could not get to it.  I have been trying not to use that kind of stuff anymore.  So this is a two part question.  1 how to keep the rats out of the coop.  I plan to close up the area they got out, and someone told me chickens were night blind, and if I put a light into the coop at night the chickens would do the job.  How have I had chickens for 15 years and never heard or read this before?  #2. How to reduce the rat population with out poison.  Would love to hear suggestions. Thanks
 
garden master
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Location: West Tennessee
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Hey Jen, there are a few avenues to try and interestingly another member of the Permies community is dealing with a similar situation, except the rats are eating the food he's trying to grow in his greenhouse and garden. There are several good options that have been put forward in the thread. Here's a link: https://permies.com/t/122180/Dispensing-pests-ethicality-necessity I offered a suggestion in that thread for the employment of a cat or dog (the terrier breed) to manage a rodent population. I think rodents can be smart, and they have a sense of self preservation, and if a predator is introduced to an area the ones that don't die move out of the area. I think those rats are in the chicken coop feasting on the buffet of chicken feed. It would be a new daily chore, but if the rats come out at night, removing the chicken feeder at dusk and putting it back in the morning will likely help.

I also raise chickens, and I do believe they have poor low-light vision. I know some folks will put a light on a timer inside a coop during winter when the days are short, to help trick the chickens into thinking the days are longer, and thus keep them laying eggs all winter. I've never heard of anyone keeping a light on all night, and I think this would mess up their circadian rhythm. They need light and dark cycles.
 
Jen Fulkerson
Posts: 67
Location: NorCal
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Thank you. I checked out the link you provided.  I have also had a problem in my garden. Something is eating my tomatoes and watermelon.  I have three dogs and one is a terrier but they are spoiled babies and don't want to be outside for very long.  Plus there is no fence in the back where the biggest problem is.  There is a stray cat I see from time to time.  This spring we had a hawk family living near. I would see 3 of them every day, but I haven't seen them for a while now so maybe they moved on.  I have thought about getting a couple of barn cats, but we currently have 3 dogs, 6 indoor cats, and 12 chickens.  Besides the chickens every animal has just showed up and insisted this is their home.  I think we must give off some sort of signal only animals can detect. I keep saying no more animals!!!  Hopefully there is a special place in heaven for morons who can't say no.  Anyway I guess I'll put a bunch of traps out and see if it will make a difference.  I have started talking in the food at night. I have also been thinking about turning off the auto water bowel and dumping it.  I was thinking there is no way  to remove their food supply, but since our pets are indoor pets the only water we have outside is in the chicken coop.  I haven't decided yet, because it means no matter how much time I have before work I will have to turn the water on.  I have to be at work at 6am, so sometimes time is short.   The poor things are used to getting fed about 5:30a.m. and this week I haven't fed them until I get home about 3:30p.m.  Just have to keep trying.  Thanks
 
master pollinator
Posts: 1514
Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
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I live next to a macadamia nut orchard, so rats are a given. I have farm dogs, but none are terrier types, so they have no interest in the rats. I keep cats, which have been successful in keeping the rats out of the house. But I still have plenty of rats getting into the sheds, the gardens, etc.

I don't use prison because I have dogs and cats, plus we have an endangered hawk that visits our farm regularly. So I've used snap traps off and on. I say off and on because the rats seem to get wise to them. I'll catch a bunch of rats, then nothing for weeks or months if I simply let the traps stay there. So I'll use the snap traps until kill numbers fall off, remove the traps for a month, then repeat. I get primarily young rats.

The best rat trap where the rats don't seem to learn about avoiding them are the electric zapper type. They run off of batteries. I have one that I keep in my solar electrical shed in order to protect the equipment. (By the way, rat proofing anything here is almost  impossible unless it's a concrete bunker.) it's not uncommon for me to get a rat every night in arow. For some reason the rats don't learn to avoid it. I'm right now thinking about buying three more for the greenhouses, if they go on sale. They are expensive.

I have a few of those trashcan/water/seesaw rat catchers in the garden area. I catch enough rats in them to keep down the damage to my crops to a bearable amount. But many rats eat the veggies before they find the water traps. So I've had damage to pumpkins, squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, lilikoi, potatoes, macnuts, etc. I've lost large sections of freshly planted carrots and beets to rats.

Dead rats are useable for fertilizer......I bury them in the garden rows. Or as chicken food ......they go into the feed cook pot whole as is. The chickens love them cooked.
 
gardener
Posts: 2569
Location: Central Texas zone 8a
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This is a rat proof chicken feeder. Its not cheap but it will save on feed as you get less waste. The feed will not get thrown around like what is likely happening now.

I put a brick down on the trigger for a few days then removed the brick. No problems at all after that. They step on it and the lid opens. When they walk away the lid closes.

https://chickendoors.com/product/coop-ala-feeder/?doing_wp_cron=1567654979.5673520565032958984375
 
pollinator
Posts: 318
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There is a youtube channel that is always testing rat traps.....

The best is the walk the plank one in my opinion as it automatically resets  and drowns the rat without the need of poison.

 
He repaced his skull with glass. So you can see his brain. Kinda like this tiny ad:
permaculture bootcamp - learn permaculture through a little hard work
https://permies.com/wiki/bootcamp
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