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How to Keep Mice out of your Chicken Coop

Keeping mice out of your chicken coop can feel like a never-ending battle, but here are a few easy tips that should work.

This time of year critters of all kinds are looking for a nice safe, warm place to spend the winter.  For many this can lead to field mice or rats in their chicken coops. I mean, what better place for a family of mice to bed down?

Soft bedding on the floor, a convenient food source, a water source, and if your coop is inside an enclosed run, safety from predators. 

Although chickens, being the omnivores that they are, will kill and eat mice if they find them, once the chickens are asleep, the mice are free to come and go at will.

Why are mice in your coop so bad?

Rodents will not only eat chicken feed and contaminate it with their droppings, they can carry fleas, ticks, mites and lice, will kill baby chicks, eat eggs, chew wires and wood, even chew on sleeping chickens' feet and pull out their feathers to use them to line their nests or to eat for the protein. 

Chickens sleep extremely soundly and it's not unheard of for mice and rats to literally chew on chickens' feathers and feet, or pull out feathers while the hens sleep, so for this reason as well as the diseases and parasites rodents can carry, you certainly don't want mice in your coop!

How to Tell if you have Mice in your Chicken Coop

It's a good idea to "listen" to your flock. The presence of rodents can stress them. That can lead to a drop in egg production - rats will also steal eggs, so that's another another tip-off. 

If all of a sudden your chickens seem to not want to go to roost in the coop at night or stop laying in their nesting boxes, there's probably a good reason why not. Never force them in. Instead try and figure out why. 

Check on the floor, especially the corners of your chicken coop, raking the bedding away, and check all the nesting boxes.  If you do find rodents (or evidence of rodents) there are a couple of things you can do. 

Don't Use Traps or Poisons on Mice in your Chicken Coop

I DO NOT recommend putting out traps or poison for obvious reasons. There's just too much chance of the chickens or another animal being harmed by accident, not to mention your children. 

Hawks and owls have also died horrible deaths from eating poisoned mice. And whatever you do, DON'T use moth balls. They're highly toxic to animals and people and it's actually illegal to use them outside.

Using either traps or poisons around the coop and run isn't smart, so why not try some natural rodent-repellents.  

How to Keep Mice out of your Chicken Coop

I recommend taking the following preventative measures that won't pose any danger to your chickens, other pets or children.

Cover all openings larger than 1/2". 

Rats, as well as snakes and weasels, can get through a hole as small as one inch. And field mice can get through even snake holes. Staple 1/2" hardware cloth over all the windows and vents in your coop and be sure all other holes are plugged.

If you find holes in the ground around the coop or run where rodents are digging, push balls of aluminum foil down them. Be sure to push them down far enough that the chickens can't pull them out! 

Plant mint around your chicken coop.

Mint is thought to be a natural rodent repellent.  They have a very keen sense of smell and don't like strong aromatic scents because it interferes with their being able to sense danger or find food, so try planting some mint around the coop and run. Sprinkle fresh or dried mint in the coop and nesting boxes.

I also make an all natural lavender mint spray that I use as a coop refresher and rodent repellent.

You can't live in New England long before someone recommends putting peppermint oil-soaked cotton balls in your kitchen cabinets or car engine to keep mice from moving in for the winter. Why not try that same thing for your chicken coop?

Get a barn cat.

Our cat does a great job of keeping our barn and chicken yard free of rodents.  He doesn't generally have access to the run, and he sleeps in the house at night, but just his presence around the perimeter is a deterrent.  

A dog can have the same effect if it spends time around your chicken yard.

Don't leave feed in the coop.

Chickens can't see well in the dark anyway, so they don't eat at night.  

Remove the feed from the coop and feed in the run instead. That will remove rodents' food source inside the coop. And be sure to cover the feeders in the run to prevent access overnight.

Use pine needles or shavings or put pine boughs in your coop.

Rodents dislike the scent of pine. Pine boughs will be the most effective of course, but pine shavings might help mice decide they don't want to bed down on the floor.

Encourage black rat snakes. 

Although black snakes will eat eggs or baby chicks, they aren't venomous and generally won't bother grown hens. But they love to eat mice. So seeing black snakes around is actually a good thing.  The snakes will use the mouse tunnels to find their prey, so you don't want to harm black snakes. Venomous snakes are, of course, a whole different story.

Try a battery operated ultrasound rodent repellent device.

Consider an electronic rodent repellent.  Chickens hear at a very low Hz level, so the rodent repellents that emit high-pitched sounds won't bother them. Made for under vehicle hoods or in attics, these devices repel rodents who don't like the sound (that's indetectible to humans, although cats and dogs will be able to hear it, so if you have either, this might not work for you).

Making these few small changes can make your coop inhospitable for local rodents who hopefully will find another place to call home.

Poultry and Pet Safe Traps

But if you are at your absolute wit's end and have tried everything else, as the final straw.... here are a few traps that are safe to use around chickens, kids and other pets. There's even a non-toxic rat "poison"  that can be used with these traps below that's made from ingredients like corn gluten, salt and wheat germ that are perfectly safe for pets, poultry, birds of prey or other predators who might eat a mouse or rat that ate some of the poison. 


Kat Sense Snap Mouse Traps           Kat Sense Rodent Bait Stations      

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