By Gaynor Davies
Rats! It can be frustrating to find that some unwanted four-footed company has moved in to our hen run. Often the first indication is a chewed corner on a feed bag but you may notice strategically placed tunnel entrances in the soil close to your hen house.
Rats have been known to attack weaker hens and can also carry Weil’s diseases which can cause serious illness to humans.
It is certainly NOT inevitable that hens attract rats, it is spilt or badly stored feed that makes your home more attractive to them. Most hen owners will not have received these unwanted visitors.
Always ensure that your feed is stored in rat proof bins (you can’t beat a metal dustbin) and sweep up spillage. Next think about how you manage your hens’ feed on a daily basis. Never overfill feeders – we know that hens love to kick food around if they get the chance. Use a feeder which keeps most of the feed covered and only a small amount is dispensed at any one time (there are many different designs available). A treadle feeder such as Grandpa’s feeder stays closed until your hen steps onto the bar.
Stand your feeder on a paving slab or hard standing area if possible. This will allow you to sweep up any spillage at the end of the day.
Avoid the temptation to scatter feed on the ground unless you can be certain that your hens will eat it all.