Pest Management in the Chicken Coop

March 15, 2019

Pests can be a real problem in the chicken coop. Snakes, rodents, and wild birds are all pests to keep out of the coop. Not only can they eat the chicken feed and eggs, they can also spread diseases, and worst-case scenario, cause your chickens to die. Fortunately, with a little bit of forethought and organization, you can keep coop pests to a minimum.

Rodents

Mice and rats carry disease, eat chicken feed, and attract other pests like snakes. Luckily, there are a few easy ways to keep rodents out of the chicken coop. First, make sure there aren’t any holes that they can slip in through. Take a good look at your chicken coop and block all access holes. We have found that having our chicken coop on a concrete pad really helps keep out the rodents. We had a lot more in the coop when our chicken house was on the ground.

Another great way to keep rodents out of the coop is to keep the feed out too. Remove any leftover feed at the end of the day and make sure to store feed in rodent proof containers. We started keeping chicken feed in a heavy-duty plastic garbage can but quickly realized that rats can chew right through it! We now store our feed in an aluminum garbage can with a lid. You do have to be careful that the metal doesn’t sweat though. Sweating metal equals wet food, so make sure to pay attention to the food in the humid summer months.

Herbs like mint and lemon balm are also natural deterrents to rodents. Spruce up the outside of your coop by planting mint around it! It’s practical and pretty! Best of all, mint is hard to kill after you get it established.

Snakes

Most often, snakes come into chicken coops if you have rodents. They love to eat the mice, but they also eat the eggs and can kill your chickens too. The best way to keep snakes out of the chicken coop is to keep rodents out. If you happen to find snakes in the coop, the first thing to do is get rid of the mice.

Then, you’ll want to figure out how the snakes are getting in the coop and close up those cracks or holes. This is easier said than done because snakes are very good at slithering in tight spaces and only need about a ¼ inch hole to get in the coop. Fill the holes with hardware cloth or other wire that has holes smaller than the ¼ inch the snakes need to get through.

If you have stacks of wood or rocks around your coop, now might be a good time to clean them up as snakes are attracted to wood piles. Keep weeds and grass around the chicken coop mowed. Finally, since snakes like to eat eggs, make sure to collect the eggs often and keep the nesting boxes clean if eggs happen to break in them.

Wild birds

Wild birds can carry disease you don’t want your chickens getting. Luckily, keeping wild birds out of the coop is easy. Keeping ventilation holes covered with fine mesh is a great way to keep the wild birds out of the coop. Feeding chickens outside is another good way to keep the wild birds out. I honestly don’t mind the wild birds eating a little bit of the chicken feed – I would just rather they stay outside to do it.

What pests have you had to keep out of the chicken coop? Do you have a tip I didn’t share?

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More about Michelle Marine

I'm a semi-crunchy Eastern Iowa mom of 4 crazy kids on a quest to stay sane and healthy. We try to live a sustainable lifestyle on 5 acres with chickens, dogs, rabbits & more! Grab some coffee or wine and hang out for a bit!

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