COVID-19, Yard Rooster Ranching, And Rodents

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COVID-19 has caused everyone to change and adapt to new social distancing guidelines to help mitigate the impact of the pandemic on their lives and communities. In response to social distancing guidelines, innovative Utahns have launched new activities that continue to allow family contact and explore new adventures. These activities included increased participation in outdoor recreation and backyard farming, including gardening and chicken.

Explosions in local rat populations in some areas have been linked to the rapid growth of backyard chickens. This is of concern as rats and rodents have been implicated in the spread of the zoonosis, including bubonic plague, hantavirus and rat bite fever. People can get these diseases if they are bitten by an infected rat or if they inhale or ingest microorganisms in the rat’s feces or urine.

Cities that have allowed backyard chicken farming have designed their ordinances to eliminate conditions that could attract rats and other rodents. These regulations require the ranchers to make chicken coops and other outbuildings where food is available “rodent-proof”.

However, you cannot see rats unless you have a serious problem. Do not create the conditions that will attract rats, other rodents, raccoons, or skunks to your yard. Remove food and watering from your flock every night and replace them in the morning. While your chickens won’t want to eat or drink at night, the rats will!

Store your chicken feed in rodent-safe containers.

Since rats are diggers and climbers, consider wiring the bottom of your run with a woven mesh hardware fabric. Bury the bottom of your fence or provide an apron so they can’t get into your chickens area from below.

For more information, please contact your local County Extension Office or visit https://poultry.usu.edu/raising