The number of people raising chickens has exploded in recent years. This is because they are some of the easiest animals to keep. They’re easy to clean after, don’t require too much space, and eat almost anything. But do they eat mice?
Chickens catch, kill and even eat mice if they are hungry. Chickens are omnivores and can supplement their vegetable diet with meat from rodents. Hens can also attack and take out mice if they come close to their baby chicks.
This article examines whether chickens should eat mice and if there are any implications. Read on to learn everything you need to know about having mice in your chicken coop.
Table of Contents
Will chickens kill mice?
As we’ve seen, a chicken will eat a mouse. But does that mean it’s capable of killing a mouse? A mature chicken can and will kill a mouse. However, this depends on a few factors:
The chicken’s demeanor: Chickens raised in small runs can be pretty bored and grumpy. If a mouse crosses the path of such a chicken, it’s unlikely to do it the second time. On the other hand, a free-range chicken has more stimulation, and if it saw the rodent, it would probably give it a slow, uninspired chase and then give up.
Chances of escape: If a mouse gets cornered by a chicken in an area with no potential for escape, the chicken is likely to kill it. Roosters would particularly pursue the rodent relentlessly.
Size: Rodents like ground squirrels are much bigger than field mice. They’re therefore much harder for a chicken to kill.
Is it okay for chickens to eat mice?
Chickens are opportunistic omnivores, meaning they eat anything that can fit in their beaks. As a result, a hungry chicken will not spare a mouse when it catches and kills it. But will that have any negative impacts on the chicken?
Mice are filthy. They carry contagious vectors, germs, and other nasty things. It’s, therefore, normal to wonder if these things will harm your chicken. Fortunately, there’s little evidence to show actual harm will come to your chicken if they eat mice.
Of course, chickens will get sick if they eat a disease-carrying mouse, but so will a cat. Apart from diseases, some mice might also have consumed some of the poisons we put out specifically to kill mice. However, if the mouse is disease and poison-free, it’s not lethal or even unhealthy for a chicken to eat.
It’s pretty difficult to prove this because the odds of recovering an eaten mouse to test it for the parasitic disease are quite low. So the only way you’d know that your chicken ate a sick mouse is if it becomes sick after you see it eating the mouse.
However, this doesn’t mean that there are no negative impacts to having mice in your chicken coop.
What happens if chickens eat mice
Although there are many things to be wary of when you catch your chicken eating a mouse, there are definitely some upsides. First, the mice make an interesting delicacy for your chickens.
Although chickens can fend for their dietary needs, they need a spicy treat every once in a while, and sometimes that’s a mouse. Also, mice are very nutritious, which can benefit egg-laying chickens. They are rich in protein, and their bones are high in calcium. This can result in stronger eggshells and richer yolks.
Mostly, there’s nothing to worry about when you see your chicken eating a mouse once in a while. This behavior is only concerning when it’s habitual.
Is it bad to have mice in a chicken coop?
Although chickens will kill and eat the rodents wherever they spot them, mice are free to roam the coop when chickens are asleep. This can be dangerous for a few reasons.
First, rodents eat your chicken feed and contaminate it with their droppings. This will make it useless, and you’ll have to refill it. If this keeps happening, you will lose a lot of money and effort.
Secondly, mice eat eggs, kill baby chicks and even chew sleeping chickens’ feet. Chickens are extremely sound sleepers, and mice seem to be aware of this. So they wait for them to sleep and start chewing their feet and pulling their feathers.
Third and worst of all, mice attract black rat snakes! These snakes come to feast on mice and, in the process, end up eating chicks and eggs in the coop. Although they are not venomous and won’t bother full-grown chickens, it’s still chilling for most people to have snakes in their compounds.
Another fact is that your flock will not sleep well if they feel threatened. Chickens will close an eye and keep the other one open because they need to look out for any danger. In some cases, they will not sleep at all, which is dangerous for their development.
How to keep mice out of your chicken coop
We’ve established that having mice in your chicken coop is not ideal. Therefore, you should take one of these measures to keep mice and away from the coop.
1. Cover all openings larger than half an inch
Rats, weasels, and even snakes get into the chicken coop through holes as small as 1″. Field mice can even get through snake holes as small as half an inch. As a result, staple 1’2″ hardware cloth over all the vents and windows to ensure all the holes are closed.
2. Plant mint around the coop
Mint is a natural rodent repellent. They have a keen sense of smell and dislike strong scents because they interfere with their ability to find food or sense danger. Therefore, planting mint will discourage mice and other rodents from your coop. You can also sprinkle dried or fresh mint in the coop and nesting boxes.
3. Get a cat
A barn cat is an excellent addition to any chicken yard or barn. It kills and eats rodents like mice and fights most of your chickens’ enemies, including snakes. In fact, the cat doesn’t have to spend all day and night at the coop. Its mere presence in the area is a deterrent to mice.
4. To sum it up
Chickens will eat almost anything. So there’s no cause for alarm when you see one pecking on a mouse once in a while. However, if you find out that many mice live in or around your chicken coop, take some of the above measures to eliminate them.
It’s important to remember not to use poison to kill mice and rats in your chicken coop by poisoning them. If rats consume the poison and are eaten by your chickens, the chickens may die.
There will always be commotion in the coop if there are rats and mice in it. Additionally, their presence will attract snakes into the coop since some snakes can eat rats. In this case, there will be lots for them to dwell in there.