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Rodent Control

Updated: May 30

A good rodent control program is a vital part of a farm’s biosecurity program. Rodents are important vectors for bacteria such as E. coli and Salmonella, viruses, intestinal worms, mycoplasmas, and mites. An adult rat will eat 15 grams a day of feed (and contaminate even more) – 1,000 rats will eat about 5.5 tonnes of feed annually. Physical damage to the building and equipment is another way rodents cost growers money.

Being nocturnal (they can cover 1-2 km a night), rodent activity is rarely seen in daylight, until their numbers reach epidemic proportions, so you need to look for evidence instead, such as droppings (a rat produces 25,000 droppings per year, a mouse 17,000), track marks, nesting materials such as chewed paper, and foul odors.

Rodents are prolific breeders - their populations develop quickly. Regular monitoring for signs of rodent infestation is required to prevent the buildup of large populations, as it is easier to control small infestations than large and established ones.

Both rats and mice can enter a hole large enough to pass their head through, as small as 6mm for mice or 13mm for rats.

Keep the grass mowed and trash and clutter from collecting around animal houses. Maintain at least a 1-metre space around the perimeter of houses that is free of brush, trash, and weeds. This will allow you to easily check the outside of the building for potential pathways, burrows, and rodent activity. Clean up feed spills inside and outside the house promptly, and prevent rodent access to animal carcasses.

Baiting best practices

  • Rodents, particularly rats, are shy and suspicious animals especially about new objects which appear in their territories, such as traps, baits and bait boxes. Rodents need time to become familiar with new objects, especially new foods. Therefore, it is normal for some time to elapse after rodenticide baits have been put out before rodents begin to feed on them.

  • Baits must be protected from no-target species.

  • When preparing bait, gloves should be worn for safety and to prevent stations from being contaminated with human scent, which may cause rodents to avoid the bait stations.

  • Tamper-resistant bait stations should be placed 1-2 meters apart for mice, and 7-10 meters apart for rats along walls, and within 2 meters of each side of entry doors.

  • Baits should be added to once a week or more often if necessary to keep them fresh. Take care not to spill the bait where the poultry and livestock can have access to it.

  • Keep bait stations dry, to make baits more attractive to rodents.

  • Small entrances to bait stations attracts rodents and increases feeding, particularly if plenty of additional feed is available

  • Bait stations can be made from 75 or 100 mm diameter PVC pipe cut into lengths about 500-750 mm. These are fixed against the outside of the wall of the shed.

  • As with all pesticides, resistance has developed to rodenticides. Rotation between rodenticides with different modes of action is recommended every three to four months to maintain effective treatment.

  • Keep records of baits used, baiting stations should be numbered to keep track of them.

  • Put up warning signs to show that baiting is in progress, and inform employees with access to the site that treatment is in place.

  • Emergency treatment procedures for accidental poisoning and contact numbers for Poison Information Centre should be readily available.

  • Safely dispose of any rodent carcasses. Appropriate personal protective clothing should be worn when handling dead rodents. Their carcases may carry diseases, and live vectors of diseases such as ticks and fleas, that may be transmissible to humans. Dead rodents are also likely to contain residues of rodenticides which may be harmful to scavenging animals. Rodent carcasses should be disposed of according to local regulations.

Note: The above advice about the application of rodenticides should be considered in conjunction with any local regulations.

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