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 also notice strategically placed tunnel entrances in the soil close to your coop.
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 and never leave feed in your coop overnight.
Avoid the temptation to scatter feed on the ground unless you can be certain that your hens will eat it all.
Rats have been known to attack weaker hens and can also carry Weil’s diseases which can cause serious illness to humans.
If you would like to ask Gaynor a hen health question please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Hen Central on 01884 860084. To support our Advice Line we ask for a nominal donation to help fund this service, so that we can continue to help your hens.