Bird flu...and now the rats!
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.