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about keeping chickens in a residential area?

(45 Posts)
whothehellknows Wed 17-Jun-15 06:55:56

I live in terraced cottage in a rural village, and my next door neighbors keep several rescue chickens in a run that extends behind the bottom end of my garden. I like animals and I think it's sweet that they gave the chickens a nice new home. So, I've gotten used to the smell and the cockerel that crows throughout the day and night. The one thing I'm not so cool with is the chickens' ginormous rat budddies.

I have a couple of DDs that would ideally like to be playing and doing cartwheels on the lawn, but they run in screaming whenever they see a rat and are getting scared to go outdoors. At times I've spotted several at a time, scampering across my garden those that adjoin it. I don't know if it's true that for every rat you see there will be several more that you don't, but it does concern me a bit. Last year I heard heavy skittering overhead, which turned out to be a rat in the next door neighbor's loft. Obviously if a rat chews through a wire in their loft and starts a fire, my terraced house is likely to catch as well.

I've spent quite a lot on poison and followed advice from environmental health and pest control services in using it, resulting in some stinky dead rats that the DDs found even more worrying than the live ones. But new ones keep popping up.

Environmental health have already been out to visit them last year and another neighbor has requested that they visit again because of damage to her garden because of the rats.

AIBU to feel a little irked at having to spend money and fill my garden with poison because of my neighbor's animals? I can't decide if it's just a fact of life that you have to deal with because you have neighbors, like if a cat poos on your lawn-- or if maybe NDN should have considered the impact their chickens could have before rehoming them.

tilder Wed 17-Jun-15 07:02:57

A decent pest control should get rid of them. If they are entrenched, may take a few visits. Am surprised you have had various people out and they haven't solved the issue.

Cockerels can be antisocial. Only one solution there...

Am a bit hmm about the smell Tbo. IME a few back garden chickens don't smell. Either she has a lot (which might need extra paperwork) or it may be something else like a drain.

Doobigetta Wed 17-Jun-15 07:03:17

It isn't inevitable, is it? My next door neighbour kept chickens when we were kids, and we never saw any rats. Foxes, yes. Maybe that's your answer- find out how to get a fox to move in.

keeptothewhiteline Wed 17-Jun-15 07:06:11

Is keeping chickens allowed?
I live in a semi-rural area and our local by laws prohibit the keeping of fowl.

dreamcometrue Wed 17-Jun-15 07:06:41

Definitely not a fact of life if you have chickens. Nor really is the smell!
At the moment we have 4 chickens (have had 6 at the most) We've never seen rats. We keep chicken food away from them in a plastic box. We clear up any mess and have a nest area with a gap underneath so they can't nest under it. If they've got them in the house as well it doesn't sound just linked to the chickend
If they are cleaned out regularly and the floor swept, there should be very little smell too.

addicted2cake Wed 17-Jun-15 07:10:04

I didn't think you were allowed to keep cockerels in a residential area.
Have you spoken to your neighbour about the rat problem?

whothehellknows Wed 17-Jun-15 07:12:10

I haven't actually counted the chickens, but I would say there are at least a dozen. To be fair, the smell may not be coming from them-- I just assumed it them because it comes from the same end of the garden where the chickens are. I haven't seen any foxes lurking around, but the neighbors also have some very large and noisy dogs that might put them off.

We do seem to get some success each time we have someone out or put another £50 worth of poison down. But inevitably they come back. Environmental health have said that as long as there is food (chicken feed) and harbourage (any of the neighboring outbuildings) they will settle and when they die others will move in.

whothehellknows Wed 17-Jun-15 07:18:58

I've spoken to the neighbors, along with my landlords and another elderly neighbor who is quite distressed about the situation. It got a bit heated and emotional, which made me feel bad. Environmental health have visited and given advice about feed and how to avoid rats, but I can't tell if they're taking it. I don't know if there are rules in the area about keeping cockerels! I'll have to see if I can find out.

The thing is, I feel terrible complaining to them because they're soft hearted people and I think view the chickens as pets. I did stop them putting out bird food (and throwing scraps out onto the ground for birds) by pointing out the number of rats I had seen climbing up their bird table.

How long do chickens live, anyway? Maybe the problem will take care of itself after a time?

Cadenza1818 Wed 17-Jun-15 07:24:55

Sounds like bad husbandry tbh . We had 4, never saw a rat and didn't smell. Several ppl in our street also had chickens and no problems . Think the cockerel is unnecessary and a bit anti social !

whothehellknows Wed 17-Jun-15 07:27:49

Yeah, that's kind of why I think they view them as pets as opposed to getting them purely for laying. They don't NEED a cockerel, I think they just wanted to save the chickens from being slaughtered.

missingmumxox Wed 17-Jun-15 07:30:37

Strange post the rats are due to neighbours chickens??? My neighbour had chickens I don't remember rats.
And the rat in your loft was theirsconfused
Did you ask his address then?

lougle Wed 17-Jun-15 07:47:37

We've never had rats -4 chickens for 3 years now.

FloatIsRechargedNow Wed 17-Jun-15 07:48:51

If you get on ok with your chicken-keeping neighbours the best way in this situation (I have found) is to offer to help sort the situation out. You might have to be quite firm in your offer and resort to blatant honesty with them about the problems there 'messy husbandry' is causing. There's always rats around but you normally aren't affected by them unless there's too many because they have found a 'comfy home'.

Actions:

storing feed sacks, get an old freezer (if an upright turn it on it's side) - rat-proof storage, just lift the lid.

Clean out the hen-house and disinfect if poss. Go through any outbuildings - moving and opening 'cupboards' and clean out all rubbish and 'sweepings' - you'll probably find shredded evidence of nests. Then get EH in there to lay poison as they will put it in the best places.

OurGlass Wed 17-Jun-15 07:49:58

We have back garden chickens. No cockerel as that would be unreasonable and no rats because I keep everything scrupulously clean and tidy. Doesn't sound good to me.

ShadowsInTheDarkness Wed 17-Jun-15 07:54:54

Yep two ex bats here, free range in the garden, open tray of food at end of garden. I have never seen rats, there may be the odd one out there because obv rats and mice and all sorts will live in gardens, but no where near enough for them to be visibly scampering about! That would suggest a serious infestation of them; you don't usually see them during the day unless there's a LOT.

Also the smell. That suggests to me not mucking out enough. Obv if you let the poo mount up it is going to smell. But chickens don't usually smell at all. The only time my two did smell was fresh from the battery farm. They really stunk for a few days, and it was the smell that'd built up from being crammed together and not being mucked out enough. How big is the run and the house they keep them in? They need a certain amount of space per hen really as a rule.

VivaLeBeaver Wed 17-Jun-15 08:00:57

I've had chickens for 15 years and never had rats. thought I did recently but they turned out to be big mice. I put the feed in mouse proof bins which they hadn't been before and swept out the shed. The mice are no more.

Does sound like your neighbour isn't taking it seriously and Id go back to environmental health, even if you have to do it weekly for ages.

CommanderShepard Wed 17-Jun-15 08:01:34

We also have chickens and I've never seen any rats. We do keep the food indoors though and only put out what they can eat in a day.

LeChien Wed 17-Jun-15 08:06:24

They shouldn't be keeping a cockerel in a residential area at all, environmental health should advise you about that.
A dozen chickens will need very regular cleaning out or they will smell. If you leave food out, it will attract rats.
Ideally, feeders should be hung up so rats can't reach it and any feed on the floor cleaned up regularly.
Feed should be stored in metal bins so rats can't chew their way in.
Unless it's a huge garden, 12 hens is a lot.
Rescued hens typically don't live long (because of the breed, not because of mistreatment), but if they are set up for them, they are likely to carry on keeping chickens, they are a bit addictive.
I would talk to environmental health on your own and explain again what is bothering you.

SunshineAndShadows Wed 17-Jun-15 08:06:46

Keeping chickens does not = getting rats - there's something else going on. You say you're rural - are you near farmland or a waterway? If so unfortunately rats will be part of the local fauna and nothing to do with the chickens (though they may be being attracted by garbage etc)

VivaLeBeaver Wed 17-Jun-15 08:09:20

OP says she lives in a rural village. Residential area or not Id have thought they'd be allowed cockerels if they wanted. There's certainly people in my village with cockerels.

I had one briefly after hatching some eggs out and as soon as it got old enough to crow my neighbour was round here like a shot making her views known. I don't want to piss my neighbours off and I wasn't too bothered about it so killed it. But if Id really wanted it Id have been allowed to keep it.

SomewhereIBelong Wed 17-Jun-15 08:20:01

Our residential area has a something?!? written into the deeds of all houses saying no fowl can be kept at all. (thankfully) As a granddaughter of a hobby chicken keeper, I can say chickens do smell - even 4 or 5, you get used to the smell - like people who have a dog saying their house does not smell of dog - sorry, but yes it does.

VivaLeBeaver Wed 17-Jun-15 08:23:07

It tends to be new estates in villages where it's written into deeds about no chickens. Think even that is very hard to enforce as its not a legal thing but just something the developers put in as they don't want a house looking like the Dingles when they're still trying to sell properties. Ten years down the line and all houses are sold the developers don't care.

But older properties in villages won't have that. I live in a three bed semi but an old (over 100years) property. We have old brick outbuildings inc a pig sty and a stable in our garden!

LeChien Wed 17-Jun-15 08:23:29

Rats are all around us, and unfortunately very often keeping chickens does equal rats, so you have to be ultra organised about keeping them clean and food tidied up.
Chicken food is a big draw to rats.
You cannot be a sloppy owner with poor husbandry skills when you live in a residential area.

Dunkling Wed 17-Jun-15 08:37:08

I have kept chickens for many years, and they do not smell. At all, so maybe something else going on there. Even cleaning out the chicken house once weekly, as well as the chickens themselves... they just have no odour, nor does their droppings (apart from the odd eggy one when under the weather).

Rats aren't inevitable though, although your neighbours with care, if they ARE the culprits, could take steps to help. I make sure all extra treats from human excess food is fed early in the day so it has cleared by night. Take up the chicken feeder during the night too. Also, we have concreted and blocked in the area under the henhouse to lessen hidey holes.

onedogatoddlerandababy Wed 17-Jun-15 08:46:40

Viva really? I have a covenant on my property (mid 70's built ex council house) which prevents keeping fowl. I would love to have a few chickens, is the covenant really not legally enforceable???

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