Eviction and Upcycling in the Chicken Coop


We’ve been having a little problem in our chicken coop. It’s a problem we had back at our old Sonoma garden, but it was only a little problem. Here it is a downright infestation. Rats. We’ve always used an old cabinet as their nesting box. We put some hay on the middle shelf and on top and they were quite happy with that. Unfortunately the rats were also quite happy that they too could build a little nest underneath the cabinet. We noticed the problem a while back when the chicken’s food dish was licked clean…chickens don’t do that. Then we started seeing tunnels. Everywhere.

(June, a buff cochin)
Thinking we were quite clever we cleared out the coop a couple of months ago and laid down some large old doors we had laying around thinking that putting in a ‘floor’ would deter the little buggers. To no avail. Instead they were digging massive rat superhighways underneath. Things were getting out of control and we had to do something fast. We needed to get that cabinet and floors out of there pronto and get their boxes up onto the wall.

(Bea, a coocoo maran)
Unfortunately the pre-made hanging nesting boxes were either too small for our well fed hens or too expensive. Even the ‘economical’ boxes we’d seen at Rivertown were $25 each. Multiply that times 6 and that makes our backyard eggs pretty darn expensive. While I’m all for good quality and high style, in this case, thrift and ingenuity won out.

(Edna, an Ameriana)
Scott took three 15 gallon pots we had around from trees we bought a few years back and sawed them in half. Then he screwed the lip to two old wood slates we had from an old futon frame. These then got screwed straight into the coop wall. He made two sets of three. One up high for the agile girls, one set of three down low for the old ladies. We were very curious as to how they would adapt to this change. The original three gals had been using that cabinet for their roost for the past four and a half years. But it seems like they warmed right up to it.

They even laid us two eggs today. Thanks ladies. Oh, I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of the rats, but at least we aren’t encouraging breeding grounds for them.


Filed under chickens

18 responses to “Eviction and Upcycling in the Chicken Coop

  1. Candice

    I love this idea. Do you have any feral cats/barn cats for good ratters? If you don’t, or don’t have enough to take care of the problem there are plenty of feral pairs or colonies and rescue/TNR groups that are happy to transport them to you.

  2. Rats make me almost as crazy as Bermuda grass. Really problematic. I love your nesting boxes. Our hens have always focused on one or two boxes. . . ignoring the rest. They are very odd.

    We use snap traps, but still . . . Good luck.

  3. Rats! OMG, how gross! And scary.

  4. KimH

    Might I suggest a few strips of weather stripping or some other strip barrier around the cut edges of those pans? Great idea.. Glad your gals are happy..

  5. Lovely chickens. I wanted some marans but ended up going with something local and cheap. We’ve had a couple rats, but it’s never gotten too bad.

  6. Deere Driver

    Somehow we have been lucky with few visible rodents. The barn cats do work hard, but I wonder if there is more that you can do. Feed less, twice a day so there is less waste for the rodents to find. Avoid spillage. We are very careful about tight lids and containers. Everything gets put in a screw lid container or tub.

    Also get the eggs regularly so that the rats don’t steal them.
    Good luck!

  7. Carol

    Great idea!
    Rats are nasty buggers.

  8. Cat

    If the rats come back… Have you tried capsaicin? Chili spice is only hot to mammals. Zoos often have problems with rodents so they put hot spices in the birds and reptiles feed. Cayenne powder might be effective but you might want to research this a bit before trying it.

  9. Hate rats!! Love the upcycle! I’m pinning it.

  10. Very creative! We had a rat in our basement a while back. It took 2 1/2 trays of rat poison to kill it! We tried to sticky trays first, and the thing just dragged them all over the place before getting itself unstuck.

  11. May

    Oh, my gosh! You are more woman than I am! I love my romanticized idea of the chickens and the country life, but first sign of rats and I am a goner!

  12. Sylvia

    Pity you dont know someone with a ferret or jack russel dog. There are usually people who will bring there Jack Russells in and that gets rid of the rats. Maybe you could do a swap for the services and offer eggs and vegies as payment.

  13. Great Idea! I have lots of old pots, too, so when I (hopefully) get some chickies this spring I will have good nest boxes to put in my coop for ’em – thanks! (too bad about the rat infestation – yukkkkk!)

  14. That is downright brilliant! And I love the idea of upcycling – our whole farm is that way 😉

  15. Erin Rose

    My parents set a coffee can upside down withe the plastic lid still attached and drill a small hole in on side big enough for mice to get thru. Then drill a bar of mouse poison to the lid and place a basket with small holes over the coffee can. This makes a very secure mouse trap. The mice will vacate once they nibbled the poison in search of water.

  16. Mint! This post really got me thinking about long-term solutions for rats. I’ve been looking for plants to plant around to house that might deter some of the mosquitoes, so I did a quick search. What I kept seeing most was mint… mint plants, peppermint oil on cotton balls placed where the rodents like to frequent, even planting catnip (then harvesting it later and drying it for kitty). Apparently the odors are too strong, so it it deters rodents and other things in some cases depending on what you use. It was a neat idea. I googled ‘rodent deterrent plants’ [not in quotations in the search engine] in case anyone was interested. Goodluck!

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