After having consulted with Chicken Debbie, the Oracle of Agway, my fears are confirmed. Yes, it is bad to have mice in the coop while babies are in the brooder, but not nearly as bad, thank dog, as having rats. They would actually EAT the babies. So, let us all thank heaven for small mercies.
Debbie voted against removal of the poison, holding that there was no danger of the mice bringing the poison into the coop, either on their feet or through their feces. But, they should be kept out. So…how?
Debbie brought me back to peppermint oil, an old-time solution that I had been about to try when I faced the rats, but was talked out of by people on the Backyard Chickens Forum who said it didn’t work. Well, the stakes have just been raised, so I’m going to find out for myself.
It seems that mice and rats are allergic to peppermint oil, and will go to great lengths to avoid it. It will have, I am assured, no impact on my hens and poults, other than to give them a minty-fresh coop. And not metaphorically minty-fresh, this time. Actual mint.
GNC carries it for $7/ounce; I’ll be stopping by there tomorrow. I’ll twist up some old bedsheets around the base of the brooders and sprinkle them liberally with the oil. Maybe I’ll even put some on the fleece “walls” of the brooder.
I’d love to say it’s the humane thing to do to keep the mice out, but I’ll still be poisoning them in the pony stall just outside the coop wall…