The Eugene Backyard Farmer

Backyard Farming. Urban Homesteading Sustainablity
The Eugene Backyard Farmer

Managing rodents and predators in your urban farm.

For as long as there have been cities, there have been rodents and predators present. Rats, mice, raccoons, and opossums need a safe place to live and a food source. If you are not managing your urban farm properly, you could be providing a habitat for pests and predators to flourish. But a few simple steps will help you keep pests away.

If you have a chicken coop, you could be feeding not only your hens but also all the neighborhood rodents. Once the rodents have a steady food supply, they begin to burrow tunnels around your coop and then they will reproduce at a rapid rate. It is a good practice to walk your coop each day and if you see tunnels being burrowed, fill them in with quick set concrete. It is common among chicken keepers to toss kitchen and table scraps to the hens. This is a great practice but it is also important to collect all uneaten scraps and add them to your compost.

The chicken feed itself can also be a tasty meal for area rodents. Most urban predators and rodents are nocturnal and do most of their scavaging at night. But chickens sleep all night and as a result, do not need access to feed. A best practice is to either use a rodent-proof feeder or move the feeder into a galvanized container with locking lid. This will remove their food source which will reduce their populations and they will eventually leave or die off.

It is also a good idea to walk your entire yard and search for places a rodent might live. This includes a woodpile, inside a blackberry thicket, under a shed or in a compost bin. Removing their habitat is the single best thing you can do to keep rodents from visiting in the first place.

Speaking of compost, most gardeners compost for the many obvious benefits. The most affordable composting method is an enclosed container made either of wood or plastic. But pilling both kitchen scraps and garden and chicken leftovers can create a perfect rodent habitat. Compost piles can get pretty warm and it is not uncommon for a rat to chew through the compost bin and then burrow into the middle of the pile. The best way to avoid this is to turn the compost as much as possible, and at least once a week. But can be time-consuming and not fun to do in the dead of winter. Instead, try a closed dynamic compost system. A composter made of high-density plastic that sits on a base with coasters is easier to turn and as a result, you are not providing a convenient place for rodents to live. Plus buy spinning the composter more often, you are getting a compost that can go into your garden much faster.

Of course, if your property has already been infested with rodents, you may have to resort to baiting and killing. Many people will react quickly to a rat population by introducing poison. But once a rat dies of poisoning, the carcass can still be poison to neighborhood cats and dogs, as well as urban wildlife. A better option would be to either set traps or use a bait that is toxic only to rodents. All the items mentioned in this blog post are available at The Eugene Backyard Farmer.

People do urban farming for so many reasons and the benefits are great. But just like any other undertaking, urban farming must be done in a responsible and respectful way to be a benefit to the community.

posted by Bill Bezuk in Uncategorized and have Comments Off on Managing rodents and predators in your urban farm.