Every farm has rats to a greater or lesser extent. We are never ratless the farmer assures me, although I have never actually seen one, thank goodness.
The number of rats increases as the weather gets colder. In the summer there is plenty of food and in the autumn there is usually a plentiful supply of corn left in the fields after harvest. But now that these supplies are drying up, the rats come in. There are chicken feed bags, cattle feed bags, wild bird food and the like to forage for and every farmer has to be especially vigilant.
Our farm cats catch plenty of mice but the farmer has never seen either of them tackle a rat. Rats can be seriously big.
The farmer, ever wily, knows where there a couple of regular rat runs. One runs from the back of the compost heap in the veggie garden, along the wall and into the back of the big shed. The other runs from the same compost heap, along the bottom of the veggie garden and under the hen hut.
We have, as you know, just bought ten new pullets - small, rather nervous birds - and quite easy prey for a big rat, so the farmer checks the traps each morning. Image his surprise this morning when there was a dead stoat in the trap under the hen house. Stoats can be large (this one was the biggest the farmer had ever seen) and could easily steal pullet eggs, or even a small, nervy pullet.
But it is sad that they are such predatory animals because they really are quite beautiful - closely related to the ferret I believe. This one is now buried and no longer a threat to our new hens which are settling in nicely and beginning to lay (four our of the ten are laying a small, brown egg daily and the farmer has fixed up a time switched light to give them a bit longer daylight to encourage them to lay. So sorry Mr/Mrs Stoat but you just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Image - Wikipedia.