Good Gardening: Chickens Aren't To Blame For Rat Problems

Jul 3, 2018

Today were going to look at that age old question. Which came first- The chicken or the rat?

Credit John Fischer

Rats are in the news, and chickens seem to be the first place to point when looking for a connection. As part of full disclosure, I do have chickens. We keep their food in a metal container when they are not eating it.

Now I want to tell you a few stories. A friend of mine sees rats in his bird feeder, and watches them scamper under the deck. He does not like rats, but wants to keep feeding the birds and not mess up the aesthetics of the deck by putting up hardware cloth- which keeps rats out.

Another acquaintance feeds squirrels and does not like rats. Our lane co extension agent could not think of anything a squirrel would eat that a rat would not eat.

Credit John Fischer

His advice on rat control is to deny them food, and make nesting as difficult as possible, but he says we have had rats here forever, and chickens for only half that long which answers the question of which came first.

Other folks have pointed out a correlation between the rising rat population, and the rising stock market. Just saying.

Getting rid of nesting places for rats is tough- reducing them is easy. Put hardware cloth under your rodent proof composter, and check the hardware cloth you already put in if it is more than 5 years old.

There are rat resistant bird feeders, but rats will pick up the spilled seed if you don't. Dog and cat food should not be left outside- certainly not overnight.

If rats are eating your garden produce, you might consider not growing that crop- at least until the rat population has been reduced. Chicken farmers, bird lovers, wildlife feeders, pet owners- we all have to work together.