Many people assume chickens eat grass, grains, and other items found in chicken feed. Chickens are omnivorous, so they tend to enjoy smaller animals as well as plants. Chickens enjoy a wider range of foods than many people realize. Even though there are many foods a chicken would like to eat, that does not mean they will all be safe.
Most chickens will eat mice and are great scavengers. Mice have many nutritional benefits as do many other prey-type animals that your chickens may find. A chicken will eat about anything they are offered or found; however, this does not mean that those items are safe for them to consume.
While mice may not be a common meal to feed to your chickens if one comes into their pen, they will most likely eat the mice. Chickens are extremely good scavengers, after all before humans started to keep them, they needed to fend for themselves. Read on to learn everything you need to know about the risk associated with chickens eating anything that comes into their coop.
Do Chickens Keep Away Mice?
Not all chickens like to eat mice but just because they do not like to eat them does not mean they will not defend their coop. Chickens do not like outside predators coming into their coop to try and harm their young or eat their eggs.
Chickens will instinctively protect their chicken coop which means they will either chase the predator away or eat them. This goes for many animals such as:
Eggs draw in many different animals as they make the perfect snack for them. The chickens will do their best to make sure this does not happen. As humans, we know the dangers that different rodents can bring so you may find yourself wondering what harm they can do to your chickens.
Can Mice Make a Chicken Sick?
When a person raises chickens the last thing they want is for them to become ill when they could have prevented the event. Many times, chickens take time and money to care for as well as being a great source of food (eggs and meat). If your source of food is contaminated, you could be out a lot of money and need to replace the sick chickens.
Most of the time mice being eaten by your chicken will not cause any harm. If you have chickens, it is a good idea to not put out any type of poisons for rodents. The rodents will consume the poison then the poison will be consumed by your chickens as they eat them.
What Diseases Can Rodents Carry?
Rodents are known to carry diseases that can be harmful to your chickens and your family. It is typically better to make your chicken coop pest free as you never know what could come in and endanger your chickens.
Rodents can carry several diseases such as:
- Bubonic Plague
- Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome
- Lassa Fever
- Rat-Bite Fever
The CDC states there are over thirty-five different diseases that rodents can carry. This is why it is better to not allow your chickens to eat them on the off chance that they are a carrier. You also run the risk of being bit or scratched if rodents are often in the chicken coop. (source: cdc.gov)
Here’s a video of a chicken eating a mouse, with more info below:
Will a Chicken Eat a Rat or Mouse Whole?
A chicken can and will eat an entire rat or mouse, while it may be a little unsettling to see there are benefits to a chicken devouring a rodent.
Some of the benefits of chickens eating a mouse are:
- A fun snack to chase around and act as a predator
- Being a great source of protein
- The bones of rodents are high in calcium
When your chicken gets the proper nutrients like those found in rodents it can be beneficial to the eggs they lay. In some cases, the eggs may have richer yolks when chickens consume rodents.
While there are a few benefits to allowing our chickens to eat rodents, those nutrients can also be added to their daily food and vitamins. Some believe the risk does not outweigh the benefits when it comes to letting chickens eat rodents.
How to Prevent Chickens from Eating Rodents
The key to preventing a chicken from eating a rodent is keeping them out of the chicken coop in the first place. There are a number of ways to help keep rodents out of the chicken coop. While there are plenty of sprays and treatments you can use to repel, securing the enclosure is the best plan.
Laying down a barrier under the dirt of the coop that attaches to the walls of the coop is ideal. This will prevent any type of ground-digging predators from entering the coop. A barrier at the lower end of the coop will stop small predators from walking right inside.
Will Rodents Attract Snakes to a Chicken Coup?
There are a few reasons why snakes may be attracted to your chicken coop.
Not only rodents, but the chicken eggs as well are sought after by snakes. A chicken will not be able to defend itself against a poisonous snake; however, the average chicken will easily scare one.
Chickens will do whatever they can to protect their eggs, a flock of chickens all pecking and scratching at a snake is more than enough to send it slithering away. Snakes can be extremely quiet so some eggs and younger chickens may be taken before the flock realizes.
Risk Involved with Letting Chickens Eat Rodents
Even though there are different nutritional values when it comes to allowing your chickens to consume rodents it is better to not allow them to eat rodents.
Many chickens will not eat the rodent and only scare it out of the coop therefore prevention is key. If you prevent the rodents or other predators from entering the coop you give your chickens the best chance at a healthy life.