Man vs. Mouse

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rick
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Man vs. Mouse

Post by rick » Tue Oct 30, 2018 7:58 pm

Just had a very full on day building new nest boxes and perch which involved the materials from the existing provisions so it was a race against roosting time.
The local mouse population has exploded this year (so has the sparrow pop.) Its not all my doing – our neighbor puts out a lot of food for the birds too and between us it has been a bit to much of the easy life for squeakers. Anyway, the trouble has been having stuff against the sides of the run which just happened along the way looking for places for nest boxes and stuff. The first were under the eves of the pitched roof we have over the run – worst place possible to mouse proof behind! The hens gave up on those nests a wile back and it seems obvious now as I found the evidence of the mouse night club behind the ply that closed the gap under the eves at the back of the nests.
The second location was closer to the floor and under a small table that was handy for putting things on going in and out of the run but that was also a nice place to hang out with a relatively easy climb to the run floor.
A flat roof would defiantly be easier to apply ½” wire netting up to!
So, Ive taken everything out so that it is clear walls up to the roof and made a pair of nest boxes with a table top roost above as a free standing unit in the middle of the run. Now, at least, I can survey the perimeter and try to foil their plans. I’m taking it as a good sign that since I took apart the old nest boxes they have had to resort to digging a tunnel from outside the run, under block paving and up into the dustbath which is sunken into the floor. It is lined with brick but not very well – needs some mortar round the sides.
The, probably crazy, idea is that I cant keep them completely out (though it should be easier now to try) but I can make it quite a hair-raising challenge to get out from the run floor with nowhere to hide during the day when it will get uncomfortably like Jurassic Park!
There was a bit of a commotion at roosting time with the chooks (mainly Bonnie who prefers to walk) trying to work out how to get onto the perch now the ramp has moved.
I’ll get some pictures tomorrow.
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Tweetypie
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Re: Man vs. Mouse

Post by Tweetypie » Tue Oct 30, 2018 9:09 pm

Can't wait to see the pics. I've been lucky so far. Just a vole that keeps popping up outside the run. The run has paving slabs with a 1cm rubber sheet on top. Makes it easy to lift out and hose down. Nothing can get inside.

Isn't there any mouse poison that hens won't eat?
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rick
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Re: Man vs. Mouse

Post by rick » Tue Oct 30, 2018 9:57 pm

Its defiantly the way to go, Tweetypie, to keep them out. I compromised my block paving when I put in the dustbath and wasn't careful enough not to rush the job with gappy brickwork. Otherwise the run is tight blocks with a two brick course of wall around the base except the extension I put in which is also brick up to the rear garden brick wall but, again, a bit sloppy how it meets the wooden frame of the run. That was another historic rush job!
It is so good to plan everything from the start but it just doesn't happen that way - The original thought, allow space to the side and behind for maintenance but that is valuable space unused so ends up as the hasty extension.
There was some murmurings and moving about by Lulu when I opened the back door earlier tonight and I think it was a mouse that had gone up the ramp onto the table that supports the roosting bar. I had got away with that before as their perch was a bar suspended from the roof. Another hasty fix - supporting the ramp with a gap to the table. With the high bar that couldn't happen as there was no table under it so a mouse would have to get onto the perch with the chicken who would have a peck at it.
I haven't been keen on poison as they may try to eat a poisoned mouse even if they didn't eat the poison themselves. Too risky, but I have had a niggling suspicion that eating mice (or mouse droppings) may have contributed to the recent problems with some.
... but I am hopeful that the mouse clan will will be looking for a better party venue pretty soon!
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rick
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Re: Man vs. Mouse

Post by rick » Wed Oct 31, 2018 2:24 pm

Here it is! I have covered the sides of the nest boxes with some hessian cloth for the moment - needs something better fitted but wanted to make the sides removable. There was extra space between the nests when separated by the length of the perch so I made the Auboise hopper fill the gap. There is a gap under the hopper and nests that a mouse could hide in but some mesh round the bottom will be easy enough.
The string that the feeder is hanging off is pretty shabby - it used to hang off the bottom of the old nest boxes and roosting shelf that were the main problem being fitted under the eves.
Now everything is off the sides and I just need to brick up the tunnel into the side of the dustbath and watch for other routes in and out.
Something funny happening with the attachments - I'll try one more post of the other side then give up!
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rick
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Re: Man vs. Mouse

Post by rick » Wed Oct 31, 2018 2:28 pm

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rick
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Re: Man vs. Mouse

Post by rick » Wed Oct 31, 2018 6:16 pm

I must admit I'm impressed by mouse tunnel making. The only way in through the floor was a missing half brick where I didn't have enough to go around the dust bath hole and finish the paving square. The start of the tunnel is at least 2 metres away. They couldn't have planned the route from A to B (could they?) so there must be a good few more tunnels under there that didn't result in striking lucky. What was clear is that they had hit the good edge of the dustbath underground and then followed the wall round. They didn't go down under the wall which is 3 bricks below ground but then the blocks were laid on a bed of sand so that layer would have been easier to dig. I wonder how they get the soil back out of the tunnel as they go? Keep kicking it backwards on their way through I guess.

... I'm just wittering on here...

Went out with the touch after dark and there is a mouse in a bit of a panic running around as there is very little cover at floor level and it hasn't worked out a plan B yet. Ive left a milk bottle in there with some grain in the bottom at 45 degrees so hopefully Ill have caught it in the morning rather than the hens taking it on. It seems to be working to some degree.
This hopper system for the Auboise keeps the chooks busy and entertained (they scratch to empty the hopper for the bit of grain mixed in) but it looks like I would be getting through two bales a week! So, recycle, and Ive made a poop separator out of a mesh basket that is shaken to speed up the operation by the cordless drill. The poop clumps float to the top while the relatively clean Auboise falls out the bottom into a bendy bucket to go back in the hopper.
I think I'm all burnt out of innovation for a while now!

The other good thing is that now they have a mat under them again when they roost (for the first time in at least a year) I can easily see all the digestive 'evidence' in the morning and the huge quantity of feather sheath 'snow' that they are making.
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Re: Man vs. Mouse

Post by bigyetiman » Thu Nov 01, 2018 8:02 pm

That all looks lovely.
We have just had a bit of a "mousemaggedon" here also, they can create impressive tunnels as we found out.
We realised when the local Tawny and Barn Owls started paying far more attention than necessary to our garden, especially around the hens area.
We wondered where they put the soil, you would think a pile would appear outside wouldn't you?
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Tweetypie
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Re: Man vs. Mouse

Post by Tweetypie » Thu Nov 01, 2018 10:09 pm

Love the pics. I was intrigued by the sh#t shaker :-)10 :-)10 It would be fun to get a camera inside the coop to see what goes on at night :? You would be able to see just where the mice come from. I think..
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rick
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Re: Man vs. Mouse

Post by rick » Fri Nov 02, 2018 12:26 am

Maybe they do the thing of having holes in their pockets and distributing it evenly round the garden :)
It is officially now known as the sh#t shaker - and here it is
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Just tall mesh basket. I thought the drill (with an allen key as an eccentric weight) would speed it up but the quickest way is just shaking vertically up and down by hand. Still poop picking but the hopper needs a bit more filtering to be as free flowing as fresh. Auboise is actually very dusty stuff - good idea to use a scarf as a mask when doing it though the dust must be a relatively large particle size as the chickens scratch around in it a lot and it never causes any trouble to them.

Of course, I'm not suggesting any of this is wise or necessary!
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chrismahon
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Re: Man vs. Mouse

Post by chrismahon » Fri Nov 02, 2018 9:51 am

We stopped using Aubiose in the dry months Rick because we found it too dusty and it did affect the chickens- they are prone to flapping about in the mornings. At that point we switched back to wood shavings in the coop (and now only use newspaper- glossy magazines are even better).

I made something similar to your shaker to go over our vegetables to keep the chickens away. Those covers came with us and are still being used.
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