Freeranger Eggs Facebook page had 4,068 visitors in January, the highest monthly figure for some time. One of the most popular posts was about the importance of rodent control and the threats posed by mice and rats.
Rodents are a major concern on many poultry farms due to spreading diseases, damage and feed loss. This is a major reason for keeping hens in mobile houses which are usually easier to keep rodent-free. Unless steps are taken to prevent their presence, the house mouse (Mus musculus), and black rat (Rattus rattus) may become unwanted (and frequently unnoticed) guests. Sheds are attractive to these freeloaders because they provide a home, food, and water. Both rats and mice only need a hole large enough to pass their head through, as small as a quarter-inch for mice or a half-inch for rats. Once inside the house, they can easily burrow into poultry litter, under nests, into dirt floors, and into insulation in the walls and ceilings. This may go unnoticed, because rodents are active mainly at night when farmers often are not present. Rodents are seldom seen during the day until their numbers reach epidemic proportions. However, even a small population of rodents can cause significant problems that cost money. Possibly, the most obvious problem with rodents is the feed they consume and contaminate. All rodents will eat poultry feed, and they contaminate and ruin much more than they eat. An adult rat eats up to 10% of its bodyweight in feed each day, so a large rodent population may eat several tonnes of feed each year.