Mice in the barn

zootjs(zone 5 MA)March 7, 2008

Are mice inevitable in a barn?

I just saw my first one. Time to set traps. But it seems like an endless task. My barn will never be a tight space. And unfortunately, it's unlikely to ever be neat as a pin either. Dirt floor, and all.

Here's a gross question: if you kill a mouse in a spring-loaded mouse trap, is it a bad idea to feed the dead mouse to your chickens?


Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I'm not sure, but it seems as if mice are common in barns. However, how much harm could they be. Don't go too crazy trying to set traps and stuff. If we can't keep them out of our house, then I doubt you could keep them out of a barn. Get a good barn cat.
Also, I don't see why you couldn't feed the mouse to the chickens, (if they'll eat it), but I can't be sure.

Thx, Bruce_NH

    Bookmark   March 7, 2008 at 7:40PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Dibbit(z7b SC)

Hens will eat mice - certainly they will catch and eat live ones, so a freshly dead one should be fine. I might not want to give them one that had been dead for a day or more....

    Bookmark   March 7, 2008 at 8:47PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

We have barn cats and have no problem with mice anymore. In years before we got them, mice did an incredible amount of damage to electronic systems in our machinery and really did a number on a camper we had stored at the farm.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2008 at 8:51AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
sullicorbitt(z5 MA)

Hi Jonathan,
the barn cat is a great idea, there is a shelter called the Merrimack Valley Animal Rescue that often has feral cats available for this purpose: http://www.armv.org/

We adopted from the above org. after we lost one of our cats last spring to a fisher, but he wasn't a tough guy like the usual barn cat. They would definitely take care of your mouse problem. And I would bet $ the chickens would eat the mice, mine love to dine on toads..... it totally grosses me out!


    Bookmark   March 9, 2008 at 10:22AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
zootjs(zone 5 MA)

Barn cat, eh?

I dunno, given our lifestyle, but let me run our issues by you, just to be sure.

I'm actually not sure what a barn cat is.... Is it just a cat that lives in a barn, like other livestock? In an unheated barn, in MA, where it gets below freezing?

We have two beagles, who live in the house, plus two young boys (who also live in the house). We're not going to allow a cat in the house too, as there is already more than enough chaos here.

If it lives in the barn and has freedom to roam, it will eat the local songbirds too, which we're against. What about attacking our chickens?

I think that there's actually no way my wife wouldn't want the kitty to be in the house too, and again, the barking and the nasty litter box would push us all over the edge. Would it really be happy out there, in the freezing cold and howling wind?

If there's something I'm not getting about this scheme, let me know.


P.S. Many years ago, I was a landlord, and my tenants had a mouse problem. After blowing about $400 on various schemes, I let them get a cat, and that instantly solved the problem.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2008 at 11:52AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

A cat who is accustomed to living outside can do well in the barn. (I wouldn't adopt a house pet and then try to make it live it out there, tho.) You'll need to provide some sort of snug box arrangement that the cat can sleep in and retain his own body heat. Also, please don't accept the faulty logic that the cat will feed itself entirely on rodents, or that if you feed him he won't hunt. He does need to have cat food available to him.

Yes, cats will catch the odd bird. My cats catch many, many more rodents and lizards, tho. As for the chickens, I guess it depends on the cat. Mine are terrified of the chickens and won't go near 'em on a dare! However one of my neighbors swears that stray cats are getting his chickens.

As an alternative, you could try just putting cat scat around the barn, if you can get some. I chased mice out of a shed one time by putting the litter box cleanings in it! I guess the mice figured where there's cat poop, there must be a cat! Don't know how long it would work, tho. I took the opportunity while the mice were gone to plug up the holes they used to get in.

Mothballs can sometimes be a useful deterent to rodents, too. After the mouses built numerous houses in our camper, we started putting mothballs in the cupboards. Stinks and needs airing before use, but at least everything isn't mouse-chewed!

    Bookmark   March 9, 2008 at 3:25PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have 4 barn cats they never come into the house (I an in Colorado, its not warm here). All are spayed females they seem to be better hunters. We only had two for a long time, but when we lost one, the mice got out of control. We adopted from neighboring farms where the mothers were mousers, kind of a kindergarden thing and they are free to a home. They are fed everyday in the attic of the barn as the dogs cannot get up there. My black female will go into the chicken house and hunt, but any bird coming at her, even the banties will send her up and out. It's pretty funny when the chickens are free ranging, the cats will just be passing by until one of the hens start running (unually from a rooster). The cat will run like someone just set her on fire. Having the four females allowes for errors. When I clean a henhouse, I leave the door open as I am cleaning (dirt floors) and the cats will watch at the door for any signs of life. The errors come in when a cat already has a mouse and another one pops up, or you turn up a nest. If you have a coffee can handy, its fun to hand out "mouse poppers" (sorry morbid, but true). Gather the mice up and when the cats are out of mice from the cleaning, just open the can and call "kitty...kitty" soon they will learn that if you are calling you have something or have found something. Comes in handy if the mouse is in the grain bin.

Good luch and happy hunting


    Bookmark   March 9, 2008 at 8:14PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I know that Jeffers pet catalog sells repeating mouse traps, but they catch them live. It looks like a big box. We have TONS of feral cats around here thanks to irresponsible neighbors. And we have tons of mice, the mice reproduce so fast.... We cut down the cherry trees to reduce their food supply. A good way to plug up some holes is to get 2 or 3 b limestone and shovel it up around the edges of your barn. That helps some. Our dog loves to kill these huge rats that have a nest near our chicken coop.... Maybe get a 'farm dog', ha ha! That way you won't have your dog killing songbirds. Some dogs are excellent mousers.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2008 at 11:21PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

You'd be surprised what a dog would do. We've got Australian Sheperds. One realized that I don't want mice around and she'll catch them. Doesn't always kill them, but makes them think twice about coming back. If she does kill one, it ends up on the front door mat. our bigest problem is hamsters (protected). I've put nest boxes for owls and small falcons in the barn that helps some, but they aren't 100% effective.


    Bookmark   March 12, 2008 at 10:22AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I live outside Buffalo, NY ... it is cold here too. I got 2 feral cats from a resuce group last Fall for my barn.

The previous barn cat was a drop-off and decided she wanted to live in my house. Can you see where it says "SAP" on my back? LOL .. she joined the other 4 cats and 2 dogs in the house.

The 2 feral barn cats I have now would NEVER be anyone's pets. They were taken from a feral cat colony of 50+ cats. They were spayed/neutered, tested for different things and given their shots.

They live in my barn and are great at keeping the mice away. I feed them and make sure they have unfrozen drinkable water. They tolerate the dogs and I being in the barn, have 3 mini-donks to care for. But they have no desire to be friends.

Fine with me, they now are living in a healthier environment than they were previously and are fed and spoiled with boxes amd quilts to cuddle in. And I don't need ANYMORE cats in the house!

    Bookmark   March 13, 2008 at 1:06PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Cats will be great mousers in your barn as long as you feed them in there (we feed dry food only) and always have fresh water for them. Probably is a good idea to just feed them once a day at the same time --- if you leave food out, you will draw raccoons. We have a heated water bowl for them that is outdoors in winter ---- the deer take advantage of the water also!

Also, if you have them neutered/spayed when they are kittens, you won't have that disgusting cat odor and also they seem to keep the feral cats away.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2008 at 3:03PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

We have 2 barn cats and a couple "tin cats" as well. The mice would still hide in the insulated wall of the dairy parlor where the goats are milked. I drilled a few holes in the inside wall and dropped moth balls in. It drives the mice out to where the cats can get them. It appears to be working well. Our cats live outside all winter. but we bring them into the heated garage (in a kennel so they won't get too attached to the inside of the garage) when the temps get life-threatening cold. My neighbor has a dog that can hear the mice tunneling under the snow, and she pounces on them like a cat. Terriers were originally rodent killers and can be trained to kill mice even more efficiently than cats, who come by it more naturally, but tend to play and torture their prey before killing it.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2008 at 11:01PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Happy2BeeME(4a NH)


just my 2 cents here. I have 4 barn cats, they were born in the barn and have always been in the barn, year round and it is below 0 in the winter. I made them a "snuggle box" I used an old wooden box with a wooden top, cut a hole in the side towards the top so they could get in. I lined the entire box with that pink sheet 3" thick styro. insulation and added hay, strips of emergency silver blantet and a few old towels. I then stapled another old towel to the door to cover it but left the bottom loose so they still could get in. When it's very cold I have an electric heat mat I bought from petco or jeffers pet. But to tell the truth the cats prefere snuggling in between the bales of hay.

Not a mouse, snake, chippie, mole to be seen. They are also great for keeping the other animals in the barn company. Mine are not "ferral" they are very friendly and will great anyone...they just live in the barn. They don't bother the chickens, I have seen them sleeping with the horses or goats.

They always have dry food and fresh water avail. I just pound out the frozen ice and add water a few times a day. or you could get a heated water bowl.

We like them, they seem happy and the vet checks them 2x a year when he comes for his farm call to give them their shots.

I don't think you would be dissapointed with a barn kitty or 2 would be better to keep each other company. (My rule at least 2 of everything :)...)


    Bookmark   March 14, 2008 at 8:15PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Karyn - that was Noah's rule too. LOL


    Bookmark   March 16, 2008 at 11:56AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Happy2BeeME(4a NH)


Your right ! My husband always tells everyone our farm has more animals than we need and he expects Marlin Perkins to show up at any time. My answer is no sir, we have room and the love for more of them, and to remember most of the time they are easier to get along with than some of the people we know who hardly get along with anyone. Darnd' ol' cranky yankees!

Our cats were adopted from a local farm too & ours also know to hang out by the chickens at clean out time. Aren't the looks on their faces so funny, they don't know if they should drop the one in their mouth, to chase the others they see... pure confusion and brain overload... Way to cute. I too will help catch a few and drop them in a bucket for later... Quick someone call PETA.... I'm allowing the torture of mice by dropping them in a bucket against their will and letting the cats find them a few minutes later.

I did take pitty on a baby mouse once I found on the barn floor, all red, hairless and not even it's eyes open. I think the cats raided the nest and that one fell out unnoticed. I kept in in an old tuna can (left over from feeding the cats.) and tried to feed it milk every time I went to the barn. I think it froze to death it was early spring and nothing else to help keep it warm. I was sad, left it on the barn floor and later it was gone....hum...I didn't even call here kitty kitty.

I know my friend's Jack Russels are great hunters no mice in her barn, no cats either come to think of it. No just kidding her cats are inside kitties along with the dogs.

Think spring and hug your kitties.


    Bookmark   March 17, 2008 at 7:22PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Karyn - One of my cats is a real genius. She can have two mice in her mouth and try for the third, I have actually seen her do it. I just don't know what happens after as she ran off with the "catch of the day". What I love is how when the cats are in the coop and you did not let them in they have a really guilty look, like a little kid in the candy jar.

On the dogs and mice thing. I had a German Shepard when I was a kid that was a better mouser than the cats were. Truth be told, she didn't want the competion when it came to feeding time.


    Bookmark   March 18, 2008 at 12:01PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Happy2BeeME(4a NH)

She probably stashed it under her pillow for a late night snack.
Ah-ha so you know the guilty look too...Love it :)

What are you kitties names, I have black cat, mumma kitty, grey kitty, and peanut aka little black kitty. I know not very creative but out of desperation, DH never knows who I am talking about if I call them Spot, Minnie, Tiger and Miss Priss...He sometimes doesn't even remember the kids names, I mean the human kind not the animals. He will call them everything but their name.

Watched the grey kitty (tiger) balancing on the edge of the sawdust trailer this morning jump in midair and take a swipe at a chicadee flying by, not even close...he missed it maybe if he wasn't so fat he could jump better. He landed in the trailer and looked around to see if anyone was laughing at him with a "You didn't see that" look. He is a clown, his favorite game is to ambush you when you walk by, he will wrap his front legs around yours, claws in and hold on even if you keep walking. then run off into the bushes...


    Bookmark   March 18, 2008 at 6:38PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Our main concern is they can't get to the food. We keep the open feed for the pony, geese and goats in trash barrells with snap on covers, then in large plastic trash bins with lift up covers so the mice can't get in. YEAH RIGHT. These little suckers can get into anything. The inside of the trash bins are always covered with poop but I do keep them out of the food. Once in awhile we would find them floating in the water buckets in the goats barn, of course the goats wouldn't go near the bucket, so we dropped a stick in the water and they are able to get out.

Well our first Spring clean up we began moving the large bins around each area and out pops all these mice, I mean they were everywhere. We have 4 mini schnauzers, do I need to say more. They thought I broke open a pinata. It was the funniest thing you ever saw, the mice scattered and the dogs took off in every direction. They didn't know where to turn they were bumping into each other, jumping over each other. Spring is here and in another week or so we will be cleaning out the containers again and it will be round up day. We bring the dogs out and the minute we go anywhere near the bins they start barking. I don't allow them to eat them (they would if i let them) but they do kill them and fast, I think they may snap their necks which I am thankful for. Not sure if this is ok to do considering they are living outdoors where they belong but I would have millions of them and I consider this just controling the situation. We do this beginning of Spring and end out summer.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2008 at 10:41AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Dibbit(z7b SC)

The galvanized metal garbage cans are pretty rodent proof, as long as you remember to push the lid down, and don't drop them so the shape gets distorted.

As far as I can tell, as long as there is shelter and any sort of feed - from hay or straw to grains - then you will have mice moving into the barn. Controlling them is just about possible, eradicating them doesn't seem to be. I have had rats chew through a plastic garbage can of feed.

If they are getting into one particular area you need/want to keep them out of - they don't like the smell of peppermint. MY brother had good results keeping them out of the tack room by spraying the room, floor and walls, with a few drops of peppermint essential oil in a bit of water. Shake it well before you spray. It does need frequent repetition, as the smell wears off.

Another deterrent is a couple of black snakes, although they can be disconcerting if you come across them while moving hay bales! Since they CAN get to 6' or better, they can be big.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2008 at 1:01PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Dibbit, I can't tell you how funny it is you mentioned peppermint!!! We resuced a 37 year old blind pony and put up a 2 stall shelter. One shelter is for the hay, feed etc (tack room) the other, of course for Honey. Well, I mentioned, in passing, to someone that I was surprised how fast the mice moved in and they said drop moth balls on the floor. Yes, i knew that but man that smell is awful, gives me a headache so I only use them in trash away from the animals. Anyway, he tells me about the peppermint, so I use it, and it smell wonderful. Well, the pony starts acting strange and pushy. I would go in and she would start pushing me around, always "searching" for something. In and out of her stall, pacing, so I called the woman we got her from and she is stumped, she can't figure out what could be wrong, something must have spooked her she tells me. Then I mentioned it started soon after I used the peppermint. Well, Honey's favorite treat next to apples is peppermint then carrots. We are still fightinng the smell of peppermint and more often than I would like we give her peppermint for her treat because she thinks we are holding out. Can't wait for the nice weather when we can get everything out of the tack and scrub it down. My husband busted out laughing when I told him. :)

    Bookmark   March 23, 2008 at 9:36AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Cats will get rid of the mice, Then you will have a cat problem, To get rid of the cats you will need to get some dogs. But soon after you will be overrun with dogs. to solve this problem get some lions they will chase away the dogs, of course lions around the house can be dangerous. So get some elephants to drive the lions away. Elephants are big and stinky you must get rid of them. The best way too do that is with mice!

    Bookmark   September 11, 2013 at 9:48PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
zootjs(zone 5 MA)

Thanks, Ed. Really helpful. Maybe I should just burn down the barn.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2013 at 11:15PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
My rooster Pluto is sick :(
ok, he is not "mine" but we all live together...
Giardia from ducks and chickens?
I really hope this topic hasn't been posted numerous...
I finally found and bought 2 head of cattle just before...
Dorking rooster with frostbite
Hello, Our rooster suffered frost bite in the dip in...
Need Spark Plug Wire
I have an old Stihl chansaw (041AV) that my dad bought...
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™