Last year we killed 47 mice in the house on sticky traps. We also had rodent killer laced oatmeal that they ate, so who knows exactly how many mice we actually had. I was catching young mice, not just full grown so that meant I was getting some prior to them being old enough to reproduce. I have seen very little evidence of mice so far this year. The droppings I saw were in the garage. None in any of the food storage areas. I do not believe for an instant that killing the 47 mice meant I eradicated them from the property. Not in the least.
I ran across an article once that helped estimate how many mice and rats you had if you raised chickens or other homestead critters. If you never saw any live mice running around day or night, but you have mouse dropping evidence they exist, you probably have between 1 and 100 mice or rats. If you see them occasionally at night then you have between 100 and 500. Occasional daytime and many sightings during the night means you have between 500 and 1000. If you see many mice or rats running around during the day? Up to 5,000 on your property!
How can I get the mouse population down? Fortunately I haven't seen any rats so at this point in time they aren't an issue. I've heard if you have caged chickens then keeping a few cats in the huge poultry houses is a good way to substantially cut down on the mouse or rat population. I don't have caged chickens. We have chickens roaming free in the front acre and we have other chickens locked up in the chicken coop, which is about 600 square feet between the coop and outdoor run. We usually have between 15 and 20 chickens in there although if you read chicken books they would say you could have over 100! I do notice mice running in there stealing the food that I pay good money for. What to do?
I plan on using sticky traps and rodenticide. I also want to use cats. We have one cat. He is getting older and has never been a great hunter.
Oldest daughter brought over a stray cat and kittens last year. She put them in the barn and the mother cat raised several to maturity. I didn't know that you should feed barn cats. I erroneously thought that they should just catch mice to survive. Since I wasn't feeding them they found a neighbor who left food out for their pets. The cats moved from my property to the neighbors. The neighbors aren't too happy about feeding extra animals but since the cats were wild I can't lure them back over here. So they will be catching mice at the neighbors house.
You don't need to starve cats. They will hunt whether they are hungry or not if they like to hunt. Feeding them daily will keep them healthy. A daughter of a friend came over the other day saying she has been out of a job for a while and can no longer pay for her cat's food and other necessities. Could I please take her cat. It's a male, not neutered, about six months old. Only if my male cat doesn't mind. Figures, our cat doesn't mind this kitten. So now we have a new cat. The girl said the cat has never been outside. It's an indoor cat only. Not for long... It will stay inside for the next week or so to get used to us but after that, it will be like the other cat, in and out. If it doesn't run off then it will take a trip to the vet to get neutered. We don't need to be adding to the cat population by having kittens and I'm sure the wild cats that used to be here are going to start popping out kittens soon enough. I think it's food will be outside though, in the barn, to try to lure it to hang out in the barn. Hopefully it will be a good hunter.