Guest post by Marion C. of Victor Pest
As many chicken keepers are well aware, dangers to poultry are not just limited to disease and the occasional fox. Pests and predators can wreak havoc to your hen house, causing damage to your valuable hens as well as to the house itself. Fortunately these risks are easily mitigated if you pay close attention and care to the maintenance of hen house. Here are four tips on how to protect your poultry from pests.
1) Don’t forget rats
When proofing your poultry from predators, it is easy to assume that large predators such as foxes are the primary threat. However, don’t forget to consider smaller pests and rodents such as mice and rats which can be just as much of a threat. Rats are capable of spreading diseases such as salmonella, E. Coli, Weil’s disease which can be disastrous for your poultry. It is not usually the chickens themselves that attract pests, but the food. As such it is vital that any spilled chicken feed is cleaned up immediately. Food containers should be locked and sealed to prevent rats from making a home where there is an easily accessible food source.
Another way to prevent rodents from entering your hen house is to elevate the enclosure in order to make it more difficult for them to find a way in. Similar to with large predators, repairing fences and weaknesses and ensuring your poultry is secure is imperative to dissuading pests.
2) Set traps
Should you find yourself with a pest problem, traps can be laid down to catch rats and mice. Snap traps can be used for killing rats, but for a more humane solution live traps are available. These can be used to capture live rats or mice, allowing the user to move them on and release them a safe distance from the poultry. However the legality of releasing animals into the wild should be examined first, as licenses are required to release black rats, grey squirrels and the edible dormouse.
3) Beware large predators
Large predators such as foxes and badgers pose a serious threat to your hens. It only takes a slight lapse in security for a fox to take advantage and pounce on a hen house in the middle of the night. Latches and improperly secured panels can make all the difference to a safe flock, as badgers and foxes can make short work of weakened fences. The easiest way to protect your poultry from large predators is to regularly ensure your enclosure is secure. Make it part of your routine to check the hen house for any gaps, broken panels or other weaknesses that could be exploited by a determined animal. Repair any damage immediately, and keep the door securely locked every night. Using a key and lock is much more effective than a latch, as animals can soon work out how to flip the latch up.
4) Reinforce the fence
The fence surrounding the enclosure can easily be overlooked when securing the rest of the area. Persistent foxes, stoats and minks are able to dig beneath the fence and make their way in from underneath. As such it is important to dig a trench about twelve inches deep around the entire fence. This should be then filled with hardware cloth to deter any digging pests.
The enclosure should also be covered with hard cloth or at least a secure fence in order to reduce the risk of harm from aerial attacks. Birds of prey such as hawks and owls can swoop down and make light work of any poultry not protected from above.
Written by Marion Cointre, European Ecommerce Content Specialist at Victor Pest.
Victor®, the global leader in rodent control, offers a variety of innovative rat control solutions such as electronic rat traps, ultrasonic rat repellents and rodenticides to help you with all your rodent control needs. Victor® has all the information you need to get rid of the rat in your home.