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Joined: 23 May 2006
Posts: 13524

PostPosted: Sun Jul 02, 06 3:21 pm    Post subject: RATS AND CHICKENS ! Reply with quote

Iíve been searching the house for this for weeks. Its an article that I did ten or more years ago for one of my chicken clubs. The advice still stands good today and I hope that it will be of some use to you!

JOHN THE RAT BY BODGER (not my real name by the way )

Well Iím only really qualified to talk on one subject and as I would like to contribute to this yearís year book, my chosen topic as a professional pest controller has got to be that of vermin.

In my work I use a veritable arsenal of rodenticide, pesticide, gas and traps against the constant menace of a seemingly ever growing throng of pests.

We as chicken keepers are in the frontline when it comes to the number one pest species. The Rat! We owe it to our neighbours, families and to our birds to wage a 365 days of the year all out war against the rat. I shouldnít have to tell you of the dangers they pose but if youíd seen some of the sights that Iíve beheld, then you would understand why I say that even one rat on your place is unacceptable.

Ugh! Rats! I hate them.

The number one tool against rat has got to be poison. A good dog or a trap will catch rats but it will never get them all. The right poison put down in the right way often will.

When I turn out to an infestation I split the job into two definite halves. The first is to get rid of the rats and then just as importantly to try and prevent re-infestation .

Rats need two things to survive Ė thatís food and harbourage. If you can deny one or both of them, then you are on to a winner.

Most of the measures which need to be taken are just sheer common sense but if you are anything like me then you are an expert at putting off the blatantly obvious.

Firstly, do get yourself secure food bins with tight fitting lids. Donít leave food in paper sacks and expect rats and mice to find the paper impenetrable.

Do try to feed your birds the right amount of food so that they clean up pretty quickly. Donít leave great amounts at the bottom of runs especially after the birds have gone to roost.

Now onto harbourage. Harbourage is pest control jargon for somewhere to live. Unless you are fortunate enough to have tailor-made accommodation, the chances are that your bird houses will have inherent design faults that will encourage rats to stay for bed and breakfast with you. However if you keep your place tidy then you are on the right track.
By tidy, I mean get the scrap man in to remove that rusting pile of old junk and put a match to that pile of old wood or rubbish and generally get rid of that rat hotel!

Two things that I would suggest that you try and do whenever possible is to raise your existing sheds up off the floor and try to get 18 -24 inches clearance so that you can see if you have got unwanted visitors beneath your buildings.

Secondly, you can save all the tin sheet you can get and get it nailed flush to the bottom of all your doors and even consider using it to clad vulnerable areas

Now down to poison. The number one rule with poison is donít skimp. Being Ďtightí with your poison could mean that the rats get a sub-lethal dose and encourage resistance or bait shyness.

Warfarin has been on the market for 30-40 years and is known as a first generation anti-coagulant. You can still get it but it really has come to the end of its shelf life. With Warfarin you have to get the rats to eat an amount of poison over a period of time. Warfarin is what is known as a multi dose poison.

In the past ten years we have had the advent of a number of so called second generation anti-coagulants. They still use the same methodology to kill the rats but are single-dose poisons. The rats have to consume a lot less of the poison and only have to have one feed on the bait to get a good kill rate.

Down to practicalities. You need to keep poison down in the form of bait stations all year round and in that way youíll never get a build up of vermin.

Bait stations can take the form of lengths of plastic or clay pipes placed in strategic positions. If you have the pipes about 3 foot long you can spoon the bait into the middle of it so that only rats can get at it.

Rat poison is now also sold in the form of wax blocks. These are excellent, if a bit expensive. They are weather resistant and can be nailed to the sides of sheds on rat runs and are less likely to attract the chickens.

One thing that I would advise against is the use of scatter bags. Although they might appear handy they arenít as good as they are cracked up to be. Rat colonies have a definite hierarchy and the dominant rats often carry the bags away to keep them from their lesser brethren, hide them and forget where they put them so the poison is lost and therefore wasted.

Yeah! When it comes to pests Iím a mine of information and could literally go on and on, and if any of you members need advice on rodents or insects etc., then I would only be too willing to run up your telephone bill!

Paddington Bear

Joined: 31 Jan 2005
Posts: 170
Location: Shropshire
PostPosted: Sun Jul 02, 06 7:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Bodger, interesting post, have you ever used "Eradirat"? We started using this as we inherited a "farm cat" ( he's asleep at the moment) and we didn't want him taking any of the poison as he can get under the henhouse if he wants (wake up, Ollie!!). We have a hen house and potting shed next to it and so far have probably put down 7.5 kg. Well they are certainly taking this stuff. The manufacturers claim that it takes 50g to kill a rat, so we must have killed off a family of at least 150 under the henhouse but have yet to see a dead body...


Joined: 23 May 2006
Posts: 13524

PostPosted: Sun Jul 02, 06 8:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Eradirat is just a trade name. Have a look to see whats in it on the packaging.


Joined: 02 Jul 2005
Posts: 45939
Location: yes
PostPosted: Sun Jul 02, 06 10:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ace post
i need to study , we get rats (in both senses )and im sure we can do better


Joined: 08 Jun 2005
Posts: 7761
Location: 91ÔŅĹ N
PostPosted: Sun Jul 02, 06 11:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interesting post Bodger. How much of that applies to mice as well as rats?


Joined: 23 May 2006
Posts: 13524

PostPosted: Mon Jul 03, 06 5:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

JB . A great deal.
The baiting and proofing strategy are the same !

Paddington Bear

Joined: 31 Jan 2005
Posts: 170
Location: Shropshire
PostPosted: Mon Jul 03, 06 7:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Eradirat contains:
94% powdered corn cob
1% wheat flour
5% sweet molasses attractant
so no poison as such and can be used with other animals present (wake up Ollie!)
We also have lots of mice but didn't think it was worth forking out for Eradimouse (what is the difference?)
If we didn't have the cat and weren't trying to foster an "organic approach" to our produce we would just have used something like Neosorexa.
Interesting point about the use of scatter bags as the Eradirat instructions tell you to wrap the stuff in clingfilm if not used in a bait station, perhaps there is a 7kg hoard still under our hen house!
When we lived in Hampshire the pest control man would give us free rat poison as the property was considered residential even though we kept chickens and ducks.


Joined: 03 Jul 2005
Posts: 1682
Location: Galway
PostPosted: Mon Jul 03, 06 7:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Excellent advice - have been trying to decide best method - dogs having loads fun killing but probably only get the suicidal/weaklings anyhow. Wary of poisons as have 13 month and 6 yr olds running wild too. What happens to the dead rats - ok stupid question but any risk of entering food chain?


Joined: 23 May 2006
Posts: 13524

PostPosted: Mon Jul 03, 06 8:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Paddington Bear. I've been out of the industry for 10 years or so now, but this eradirat ! Whats the idea behind it? If it does not contain any poison hows its suposed to eradicate the rats? Whats the promotional jargon behind it ?
I am currently using some stuff called Neokill . It contains the same poisoning agent as neosororexa but instead of being on bird seed its on whole wheat .
This has two advantages. First of all theres less wastage and secondly as soon as anything nibbles into the wheat it shows up as brilliant white, which is a very good indicator that the poison is being taken .

Rat corpses should always be collected and disposed of. The antidote for these anticoagulant poisons is vitamin k. They aren't a quick acting poison so you tend to get plenty of time to correct any mistakes . They are about as safe as a poison can get .

I don't blame anyone wanting to be organic , but every now and then situations arise when you have to put your principles to one side, even if its for only a short while.
Once you get things under control you can then afford to plump for the more natural approach .
If I tell you that in the past I've done jobs where a whole room has lifted with furry things and half a hundred weight of poison has gone in a night then you'll understand why its essential that you keep on top of things .


Joined: 21 Dec 2004
Posts: 24585
Location: mid-Wales
PostPosted: Mon Jul 03, 06 8:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bodger: I need a rat slaying system which the chickens & ducks won't go for: most of the birds are in a run but a large cockerel and a bantam hen are free range, so it needs to be inaccessible to them and the cats (one of whom is very partial to the birds' grain!).

I don't mind using poison: I'm fed up with the rats!


Joined: 23 May 2006
Posts: 13524

PostPosted: Mon Jul 03, 06 9:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You can buy expensive plastic bait stations which keep the poison out of harms way or you can do as I do and use 3 ft lenghts of plastic down pipe . I put the piping down flat on the floor and situate them outside the runs and sheds where the rats are likely to run . I have a long handled spoon that I use to ladle the poison well into the pipes way out of the reach of any livestock .
The bait is kept safe and dry in the pipes.
With poison you will get bodies to dispose of but I'm sure that an awful lot die underground .
If you ever have to use rat poison in your house then a useful thing to remember is that a side effect of the poison is that the rats get quite thirsty before they snuff it, so on the jobs that I did I always use to advise the customer to check their header tank for floaters


Joined: 21 Dec 2004
Posts: 24585
Location: mid-Wales
PostPosted: Mon Jul 03, 06 9:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for that, Bodger. I'm guessing the pipe needn't be very wide? Standard down-pipe-type guage?


Joined: 23 May 2006
Posts: 13524

PostPosted: Mon Jul 03, 06 9:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you are a bit shakey then the wider the gauge the pipe is then the less likely you are to bang the inside of the pipe with your spoon and spill the poison .
Come to think about it, my bait stations are currently off cuts of plastic stench pipe which is quite a bit bigger than down spout !

Paddington Bear

Joined: 31 Jan 2005
Posts: 170
Location: Shropshire
PostPosted: Mon Jul 03, 06 2:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bodger, Eradirat works by apparently causing dehydration in the rat, you need to remove all other food sources so the rat feeds just on the Eradirat. We used to use Neosorexa until we obtained a free supply of "something better"- a wheat coated poison, courtesy of Hants County County pest control. This was fine by us except that any dead rats were seen as additional food by our chickens if we didn't get to the rats first, specially our Marans (must be 'cause they're French!). We haven't seen rats since using Eradirat though the stuff does disappear.


Joined: 23 May 2006
Posts: 13524

PostPosted: Mon Jul 03, 06 2:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

PB .
Thats a strange one on me . In a farm or smallholding situation its virtually impossible to eliminate other food substances and theres always the opportunity for them to drink.
It sounds as though you have a good idea as to how effective its being in controlling the rats.
That stuff you had from the council sounds like the Neokill that I'm currently using !

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