Bird flu...and now the rats!

Your Chickens - - Ask Our Experts -

QBe­cause DE­FRA cur­rently says we have to keep our birds un­der cover we have put the house for our three ban­tam hens in our green­house. They love it and keep busy dust­ing where last year’s to­ma­toes were planted. How­ever, we’ve re­cently no­ticed a rat hole go­ing un­der the green­house base. If we use bait boxes we’ve seen in our lo­cal agri­cul­tural store where we buy our food, is it safe to use poi­son?

AJeremy Hob­son says: Rats are an ever present prob­lem when­ever live­stock of any kind is kept and the en­vi­rons of a chicken house or green­house – with their ready sup­ply of food and suit­able shel­ter­ing places – is ideal. In win­ter, rats seek some­where warmer whilst those that in­habit sub­ur­ban gar­dens can al­ready find food and will con­tinue to breed. They will, if left unchecked, make homes un­der chicken houses, in the roots of shrubs and around the base of any feed hop­pers. Their greasy-look­ing, smooth runs can very eas­ily be seen.

Pro­vided that you keep the con­tents well away from your poul­try, poi­son bait­ing sta­tions are the best op­tion: they must, how­ever, be kept con­tin­u­ally checked and topped up, oth­er­wise rats may build up an im­mu­nity by tak­ing in­suf­fi­cient quan­ti­ties of poi­son when it is spas­mod­i­cally given. Bait blocks rather than loose poi­son are less likely to be car­ried off by rats, mak­ing them less likely to be ac­ci­dently found and eaten by poul­try or other birds. * Bird flu: See page 31.

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