Mice love chicken farms much as they love stable yards and other outdoor livestock areas. There is abundant food and plenty of warm and cosy nesting locations.
As omnivores, chickens eat pretty much anything. They won’t actively seek out mice on the menu; however, if a mouse wanders too close, they’ll eat it.
Rodent control on farms is a big part of good animal husbandry, as mice and rats spread disease amongst the flock and can cause damage to buildings.
Find out why chickens eat mice and how you can control rodents in poultry sheds.
Why Do Chickens Eat Mice?
Chickens are opportunistic feeders, so if they come across many potential food sources, they’ll eat them, including mice.
Left to their own devices, curious chickens will eat all sorts of things which many keepers are unaware of if they control their diet with pellets.
Chickens like variety. If you see chickens eating mice, this could indicate boredom or nutritional deficiencies.
Mice disturb roosting birds at night. If the chicken wakes up, it’ll usually kill and eat the mouse.
Rodent-eating poultry may be a sign of stress caused by overstocking, lack of space to roam, or even a dirty coup.
Is It Safe for Chickens To Eat Mice?
Gobbling up the odd mouse won’t harm your chickens, but you should be careful of a mouse infestation and the use of rodent poison. Indeed, rodenticides are the most significant risk to mouse-eating chickens.
Second-generation poisons pass easily onto other species, and your chickens could become unwell and even die if they ingest poisoned mice. The chemical can also pass onto the eggs.
Whilst you can control where you put the poison pellets – well out of harm’s way – they need to be near enough to the coup. However, you can’t control where a mouse goes after eating the pellets.
Poisoned mice move slowly and are an easy target for a passing bird.
Using rodenticides is often unavoidable, but it’s possible to do this safely without putting birds at risk.
Implementing other measures around the farm will help keep rodent levels to a minimum in the coup.
What Diseases Can Rodents Carry?
Rodents are a nuisance in the coup; they eat chicken food and will even eat eggs. They can also chew through cables - a fire risk.
However, rodents also carry some nasty diseases which transmit to other animal species and humans, which is another good reason to keep them away from poultry sheds.
- Salmonella – carried in the mouths and droppings of mice and contaminates the chickens’ food, water, and bedding
- Leptospirosis, also called Weil’s disease and spread by rodent urine
- Hantavirus – spread by rodent urine, saliva. and droppings and which can lead to potentially life-threatening respiratory complications
- Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis (LCMV) which causes a type of meningitis
- Tularemia – also called Rabbit Fever
Are There Any Benefits of Chickens Eating Mice?
Chickens like variety and are surprisingly well adapted to catching mice. If they see one, they’ll give chase, and their beak and talons make short work of their latest snack.
Mice are high in protein and calcium, so they have a decent nutritional value for chickens, but this can easily be supplied in the birds’ diet using good quality grit.
Whilst an occasional mouse treat shouldn’t be a problem, allowing mice free-range in the chicken housing causes many other issues. Most poultry keepers discourage rodents because they carry diseases and can damage the housing.
Keeping the chickens’ diet varied and engaging with the correct nutritional balance discourages birds from hunting out other food sources. Allowing the flock space and maintaining a stress-free environment also deters unwanted feeding habits.
Theoretically, there are benefits to chickens eating mice, but the risk of rodent infestation and disease easily outweighs these.
How To Rodent-Proof Your Chicken Coop
- Store Leftover Feed in Sealed Containers
A ready food source keeps mice coming back for more. Store feed bags in metal, vermin-proof bins with secure lids. Mice easily gnaw through paper sacks.
Make sure your bedding store is also part of your rodent control programme. Straw or shavings products provide a perfect haven for mice looking to nest.
- Seal Gaps and Holes
Mice can squeeze through the tiniest of cracks and holes. Check the coup and poultry housing for gaps or deterioration and repair small holes.
Covering a coup with poultry mesh is another way to deter mice. Choose dedicated, breathable chicken netting so you don’t block ventilation outlets.
- Implement Rodent Control Measures
There are many ways of deterring rodents, from getting a couple of farm cats from a rescue organisation to using natural preventions like mint oil and dried leaves which rodents dislike.
Many cat rescue organisations trap and neuter feral colonies and then find homes for them where they can continue to live a wilder but safer existence. The farm environment is perfect, but we don't recommend using rodenticides at the same time.
However, active rodent control measures are essential if you keep chickens at scale or have a current mouse or rat infestation.
Rodenticides are not always the first choice because of their impact on non-target species. However, with care, treated baits like Roban Whole Wheat can be located in enclosed bait traps to minimise risk to pets and other species.
Roban is highly palatable and resistant to fungi or bacteria when conditions are wet, increasing its longevity. Enclosed bait traps guarantee you can keep bait and poisoned rodents securely away from other species.
Professional certification is required to use Roban and other second-generation rodenticides. There’s training and an exam plus CPD – Continuous Professional Development.
Electronic baited traps do precisely the same thing but dispatch a trapped rat or mouse quickly and humanely within seconds.
Ultrasonic deterrents emit a low-frequency noise which claims to deter rodents and other unwanted visitors. Chickens are not bothered by this, but other species, like dogs and cats, don’t like it.
The most effective rodent control programme involves a mix of measures, including good flock husbandry - a balanced diet, secure feed storage, and clean, safe housing – and vermin destruction using rodenticides and other measures.
Monitoring rodent levels is the only way to stay on top of the problem. If it’s easy to spot mice in the poultry housing or coup, then you already have an infestation on your hands.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can Chickens Get Worms From Eating Mice?
Mice can introduce worms to the flock, which are then perpetuated via the chickens’ faeces and eggs on the ground, continually reinfecting the birds.
The three common species are roundworm, tapeworm, and gapeworm. Birds lose weight and fail to thrive due to respiratory problems.
Most poultry farms initiate a rolling programme of vermin control all year round, involving active measures like rodenticides and good management practices regarding building design and animal husbandry.
Rodent populations can wax and wane depending on stocking levels and the season, but when you need to intervene, shop Dalton’s rodent control collection. We stock safe and proven rodent control products for all types and sizes of poultry farms.