I have had so many requests for this tackling this topic as I know many people have an out of control rat problem in their yard. Some rats have become so big that they can easily open treadle feeders and reach hanging water sources; really all the things recommended to deter them in the first place.
If you are easily offended by baiting and trapping, then please do not read any further. So rather than complaining, please be respectful of other people's situations. These methods are designed to help poultry owners who have genuinely asked for help in their situation.
Poison bait traps should only be employed if you know that your poultry are not keen on consuming vermin. Using bait toss bags in the storage sheds or a bait box system, where the vermin need to go inside to nibble at the bait so that no pets are able to access the bait.
KEY POINTS TO KEEPING VERMIN AWAY
- Cover all food sources in secure containers
- Use treadle feeders instead of open feeders (e.g. Grandpas Feeders)
- Hang water sources at chickens' chest height
- Leave no scraps out overnight
- Clean up spilled food daily without delay
- Clean up the yard and coop so that vermin cannot have places to hide and nest
- Clean the coop daily, looking for signs of vermin activity
- GET ON TOP OF THE PROBLEM QUICKLY BEFORE IT GETS OUT OF HAND AND THE RATS ARE BIGGER THAN YOUR CAT!
TRAPS AND DETERRENTS
Mix some Icing Sugar with Plaster of Paris in a container and leave it in a location that the chickens cannot reach.
What does it do? Vermin ingest and will go away to die.
Using a cage with bait will attract vermin and snap shut behind them, keeping them alive. Likely to only catch one at a time. Will require a location for release far from your property.
What does it do? Keeps vermin alive but requiring re-homing.
Planting mint around the outside of the coop - where chickens cannot access it.
What does it do? Deters mice (but doesn't kill) and chickens love to eat mint.
Saturate cotton wool balls with peppermint oil and place them in locations that you know vermin are likely to run through. Replace every couple of days.
What does it do? Deters rats and mice (but doesn't kill). Also repels cockroaches, bedbugs and fleas.
Hot Chili Spray
Mice are quickly deterred by a chili spray around the perimeter of the coop/run. Its not known if it will be as effective on rats but is worth trying. Respray every couple of days.
What does it do? Deters mice (but doesn't kill). May also repel snakes.
Good Old Fashioned Rat Trap
They're huge, the require setting with a steady hand, and yes, sometimes the tasty bait may get stolen, but they do the job and no poison is used. Place in an area that the poultry are not able to access so that they do not accidentally set them off.
What does it do? Breaks the neck of the vermin for a quick death without poison. Chickens are able to eat the mouse if so desired. Rat traps are bigger than mouse traps and are generally available at all hardware stores.
5 Gallon Bucket Mouse Trap
Great one for mice but not for rats as rats can swim. But I thought I'd include this one anyway.
Using a bucket with water, a run for the mouse to ascend, a stick or wire with either a thin PVC tube/drink container or piece of wood attached that will spin if walked onto. Spread a little peanut butter on the spinner to attract the mouse.
What does it do? The mouse will run for the bait and fall into the water and drown. Chickens are able to eat the mouse if so desired.
OTHER GOOD NATURAL METHODS
Cats - they are a natural predator of vermin and can be encouraged to hunt from a very young age.
Birds of Prey - owls amongst many others are also natural predators of vermin. Encourage a good habitat for them and take precautions with your poultry where necessary.