Avian Aqua Miser: Automatic, poop-free chicken waterers

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A rat closeby

Feeding whole corn to chickensI'd been meaning to post a followup about the whole corn our neighbor gave us to supplement our flock's winter feed.  The kernels were pretty big, and despite reports that chickens can eat some corn whole and grind it up in their gizzards, I wasn't entirely sure whether our birds could get these big hunks down their throats.

But the feeder kept getting lower and lower, which seemed to be a good sign...until I saw the rat.  To be honest, I've known there was someone living under our chicken coop ever since the fall, when mounds of earth began to turn up here and there around the structure, but I wasn't sure who had taken up residence.  The intruder had clearly been attracted to the kitchen scraps I dump in the coop every morning, and having a feeder full of corn made it even more bold.  I'd assumed from the amount of dirt involved that this was a big Rat trapcritter like a groundhog, but it seems that one medium-sized rat is quite capable of moving around gallons and gallons of earth.

Rats are bad news, so I immediately set out to trap it.  We bought a rat trap, I baited it with half a slice of raw bacon, and the next day...the entire trap was gone.

Did the rat find a way to trip the trap and then lug the whole thing back to its den to gnaw the food loose at its leisure?  Or did our dog break into the pasture and steal the trap, hopefully not hurting her nose in the process?  I'm not sure, but I do know that we're going to have to move on to a plan B for rat control.  Having a rat on the farm at the same time chicks are hatching is very bad news, so we've got two months tops to delete the coop intruder.  I'm scared of the idea of poison, but maybe some rat poison down the holes would do the trick?

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I had no idea I had a rat problem in my coop until I found a rat skull in the bedding. You may want to avoid poison in case your girls get a hold of the intruder and thar care of him themselves!
Comment by TJ early Friday morning, January 24th, 2014

I would be willing to bet what happened to the trap is exactly what you think happened: it was sprung and someone took the trap for the meat that was still there. Our pest guy only uses peanut butter, maybe 1/2tbsp per rat trap, that way theres no poison. Also, Lucy could just lick the peanut butter off of a sprung trap without necessarily moving the entire trap, though obviously better to have it somehow out of her reach altogether. Poison down the holes is a decent idea, provided Lucy won't dig it out. As I'm sure you know, most rat poisons are blood thinners. No need for that to end up somewhere unintended.

Comment by jen g late Friday morning, January 24th, 2014

When we set out traps I usually drill a hole in the corner and tie a brick to it with some nylon string. If the rat doesn't get killed instantly they may take the trap. It's important to know that rats unlike mice do not predictably travel along walls. They will go straight from one point to the next making trapping them more difficult. We used boards in one instance to funnel their path down to one way in and out of a gap in the fence and put a trap there and had success. I've heard having 2 traps can be effective too since they figure out a way to get the bait out of one while getting snapped by the other. One dug under our chicken coop so we put a hardware cloth bottom on it and raised it off the ground (the bottom alone did not eliminate the problem since food was still spilled.) It allows us to clean under the coop easier too. Your trap choice is the best as far as humane killing. We've tried some other easier to use traps but they don't have a strong enough spring to always capture or kill the rodents. We do use poison occasionally and it usually works if the bait/poison is fresh. We have a board that we screw the bait to so it doesn't get moved by the rodent to where our animals could get to it. This type of poison has a hole in the middle of the chunk. http://www.amazon.com/Tomcat-All-Weather-Bait-Chunx/dp/B000HHOALG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1390590000&sr=8-1&keywords=rodent+poison

We have had good luck with these as well. http://www.amazon.com/Reckitt-Benckiser-1920000202-4-Pack-Baitbits/dp/B0044USA6S/ref=sr_1_10?ie=UTF8&qid=1390590430&sr=8-10&keywords=rodenticide+dcon

Good luck in whatever decision you make.

Comment by Brian Friday afternoon, January 24th, 2014
The first time I saw a rat sitting up in the middle of my yard, in the middle of the day, eating the expensive chicken food from the big self-feeder in the chook enclosure - was the last day that I left food in the self feeder. I put out several traps in various places, baited with peanut butter, and caught a rat. I also stopped self feeding and switched to tossing the days rations once a day to the hens, who eagerly cleaned it up, and then foraged the rest of the day. Because I live in a city, there is no way to not have rats want to eat the chook food, but by not leaving an ongoing source of food out for them everyday, they have no reason to hang around my yard. Also my hen house is up on legs, about two feet off the ground, so there is no place underneath for rats to live. I know they live in my neighbors basement, because I was told that is the case...
Comment by alison in the wee hours of Sunday night, January 27th, 2014

My neighbor has these all around his garden and says he caught at least one rat a day for a month - and now only occasionally with no destruction to his garden. Just place Peanut Butter in the inaccessible bait bin and the rats can't help but go for it! Electric Rat Traps at amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Electronic-Adapter-Battery-Powered-Detachable/dp/B00EP4AEYY/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1392394510&sr=8-4&keywords=electric+rat+trap

Comment by TNelson at lunch time on Friday, February 14th, 2014

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