How to keep pests out of chicken coop

Keeping animals and their housing free of pests is a perpetual problem for all of us. There are many different types of poultry and livestock and each requires specific care and attention to ensure that they remain healthy and pest-free. Keeping pests out of chicken coops is one such task that must be undertaken by any responsible chicken owner.

How to keep pests out of chicken coop

Steps to keep pests out of chicken coop

We’ve summarized and listed the steps that will help you keep your chicken coop pest-free.

1. Pest proof the chicken coop

Pests such as mites, lice, rats, predators (especially dogs), and snakes can pose a serious threat to chickens if they gain access to the coop or nesting boxes. It is important to remember that these creatures will not only attack your own stock but will also prey on other poultry in the area; thus creating an infestation quickly and leading to a severe loss of both human and chicken property.

Pest proofing the coop is an important step in maintaining healthy, pest-free chickens and can involve a variety of methods depending on your area. This task should be part of regular maintenance to ensure that pests cannot gain access to the coop at any time.

One common way for pests to gain entry into poultry housing is through poorly constructed doors, windows or ventilation points. Most pests are quite small (rats may be up to 7 inches long) and can easily squeeze through holes no bigger than 6mm wide; it only takes one hole for rats or mice to enter so make sure your coop has well-fitted doors and windows with no gaps larger than 3mm in size. Ensure that any wire mesh used in part construction is galvanized and rust-resistant to prevent tears from any sharp claws.

Larger predators such as dogs may enter the coop through a large, open door or a loose board on a wall. To ensure that your chickens are safe it is important to check all of the openings regularly and make sure they are sealed up tightly whenever possible. It can also help to add mesh screens over all doors and windows which will not only keep pests out but will also reduce drafts coming into the coop during winter months, providing warmth for chickens without letting in snowfall or rainwater. This screen should be cut small enough so that even baby mice cannot wriggle their way inside.

The nesting boxes inside the coop should also be pest-proofed to keep hens safe at night. Make sure that the boxes are high enough off of the ground so that rodents cannot crawl inside. To prevent snakes from entering, for example, line the box with hardware cloth (the small squares should be no bigger than 6mm wide) and cut a few ventilation holes on one side.

2. Terminate the infestation of mites and lice

Mites and lice tend to live on chickens rather than seek them out so it is important to reduce their numbers here first before tackling other pests in the coop directly. These parasites feed on chicken blood so making sure your flock has access to fresh water regularly will cut down drastically on mite presence; lice often feed on feather shafts or around combs and wattles which can be removed with tweezers and prevented by keeping chickens well-groomed. You can provide constant freshwater by providing a modern chicken waterer in the coop.

Removal of any old feathers which are not broken can also help to reduce lice infestation, as this is one of the main hiding spots for these parasites. Mites however tend to live near the vent or underwings so it is important to check your flock regularly for small red or black dots on the skin; it may be helpful to use a magnifying glass when checking for pests. To remove mites place an oiled cotton bud at the base of the neck and sweep it gently towards the backside. This will suffocate mites without squashing them directly onto your chicken’s skin where they might carry infections.

3. Regular cleaning, maintanence and behavior

Cleaning out old feeders, waterers, and other equipment is very important when trying to prevent pest infestation. Removing any old feed which may have been sitting around for a while will cut down on the number of rodents attracted to your coop as these pests are often driven off by new food sources. You can also look for a rat proof chicken feeder. Providing fresh food and water daily or at least every other day can also help to prevent pest problems in coops, as rodents and snakes prefer stale food and warm, stagnant water over fresh and cool.

Keeping chickens healthy is one of the most effective ways to reduce pest proliferation so be sure to keep their living quarters clean, dry, and well ventilated with proper bedding material such as hay or straw; giving them ample room inside the coop so they do not have to stand in their own waste, and providing adequate food and water resources. Use chicken coop cleaner and deodorizer for best results.

Chickens are very good at keeping themselves clean so it is important to give them space inside the coop where they can move around freely; this means that taking out any excessive nesting material daily will help keep coops cleaner for longer periods of time. It may also be helpful to provide chickens with dust baths or sandpits outside of your coop as most pests will not typically reside in the soil. Chickens often seek out dry areas like these when looking for a place to lay their eggs; since laying eggs attracts snakes this could be another way of preventing snake infestation without removing all nests from the coop entirely.

Rotating pastures or allowing your chickens to free-range and eat grass and bugs will help reduce the number of mites and lice in your coop or on your chickens. If you maintain a chicken-proof garden it may be helpful to allow your chickens access during certain hours so they can pick off any pests present. Add marigolds, lemons, garlic, and hot chili pepper plants to the garden since these are all-natural pest repellents that can also be used as medicinal remedies for chicken ailments such as mites or lice.

Removing piles of decaying vegetation from around your coop will cut down on humidity which attracts mosquitoes; this is another potential harboring spot for various pests. Keeping up with fencing repairs, by checking regularly for loose boards, holes, or other weak spots, will also help to prevent snakes from entering your coop.

4. Natural remedies for pest control

Another way to discourage pests is by using natural remedies such as hot pepper spray or garlic spray for a mite outbreak; a mixture of dish soap and water can be sprayed directly on chickens for lice treatment even if you have only one chicken with an infestation problem. Feeding your flock brewer’s yeast, which can be bought at any pet store or health food store, will increase their blood cell count and help boost immunity against parasites without the need for antibiotics. Brewer’s yeast can also be added to feed rations as a nutritional supplement during non-medicated times of the year.

Brewer’s yeast does not have an expiration date so it can be kept in storage for many years. It is best to buy the dry yeast form since this can be portioned out into individual feeding times without wasting any of it; if you feed your flock with loose brewer’s yeast (the wet version that comes in a bucket) they will eat it all at once so you have to use more of it than if they are eating the dry version which can be spread out over time.

Adding some apple cider vinegar to fresh water every day or every other day will help reduce lice infestation because acetic acid has antiseptic properties that also aid in blood clotting when chickens are injured, e.g., from pecking at each other or being bitten by predatory animals.

Using nontoxic remedies such as the ones listed above will help to keep your chickens pest-free without resorting to chemical pesticides which can have harmful effects on the birds as well as the environment.

Final Words

Now that you have learned the most common causes of pest infestation and how to keep them away from your chicken coop. Hope you will be more cautious and stay ahead before the problem arises.

About the Author
The Poultry Feed Team

The Poultry Feed Team

I am Ehsan from The Poultry Feed Team. We all started out as poultry novices ourselves, so we know just how confusing it can be to try and figure everything out on your own. That's why we're here! We want to help you become the best caretaker of these lovely feathered animals.