Preparing your barn for winter – Pest management series part four

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This 4-part series will address different areas of pest management and assist farmers with building and maintaining a pest management plan that is feasible for their options.

Man in blue button-down shirt writing with yellow pen on a piece of paper next to a laptop.
Keeping records of rodent sightings and bait information can help farmers identify when there is a rodent infestation.

Pest Control Records and Monitoring

Once you have your rodent control practices in place, you will want to make sure that you are keeping accurate written records. The type of bait, placement and how much bait you used should be recorded. When various employees are in charge of monitoring and maintaining the bait stations, a site map of all bait locations can be helpful. Bait stations or placement should be monitored bi-weekly or more frequently if needed. Tracking the amount of bait used will help you determine if a rodent issue has arisen. Increased use of bait and signs of rodents determine rodent infestations. Hoarding issues can be identified by an increased use of bait but limited signs of rodent exposure. Using intact pellets or blocks can help prevent hoarding by rodents.

When completing the monitoring process of your rodent control plan, there are some steps that should be taken. Each area of bait placement locations should be checked regularly and include the removal of carcasses. Bait stations should be checked to verify that enough bait is in place and that it is secure so that non-target animal access is limited. Signs of rodents should be documented and indications of increased populations should result in more bait locations. Bait should be replenished as needed. When dealing with an infestation, large quantities of bait may be utilized. Once eradicated, bait locations can be decreased and limited to those needed for prevention and control only.

Pest Treatment Failures

Pest treatment failures can happen because of a number of reasons, most often because of inappropriate, poor quality or old bait. Once bait is over a year old, it should be removed because it loses its effectiveness. Treatment failures can also happen because of inadequate quantities of baits and poor bait placement. Rodents can also suffer from bait shyness, this happens when a non-lethal dose of bait is consumed, causing the rodent to stop feeding on the bait. Other reasons for treatment failure include reinvasion or resistance. Resistance occurs when bait is eaten but there is no decrease in population. In some species of rats, there has been confirmed resistance to some bait products including, Warfarin, Chlorophacinonce, Coumatetraly, Bromadiolone and Difenacoum (Buckle et al., 2010). Behavioral resistance occurs when the rodents refuse to consume the bait, requiring a change in the pest control methods. Changing the placement of the bait, providing an alternative form or providing different bait stations can all help alter behavioral resistance.

Conclusion

In conclusion, having an increased rodent population at your facility does come with some risks. It can be detrimental to the health of animals, reduce the structural integrity of facilities and could cause human health issues. Having a pest management plan in place with routine monitoring and being alert to the signs of an increasing rodent population will help diminish these risks. Using best practices to identify, monitor and target rodent populations will help control the pest population, mitigate risks to non-targeted animals, protect human health and improve environmental management on the farm.

Additional articles in series

Part one – Introduction to pest management

Part two – Understanding rodent types and signs of infestation

Part three – Rodent control methods

References

Buckle, Alan, et al. “Anticoagulant Resistance in the Norway Rat and Guidelines for the Management of Resistant Rat Infestations in the UK.” Rodenticide Resistant Action Group, June 2010, www.pestmagazine.co.uk/media/246897/management-of-resistant-norway-rat-infestations-in-the-uk-rrag-june-2010.pdf.

“Rodent Control on Farms.” The Pig Site, 19 Feb. 2015, www.thepigsite.com/articles/4911/rodent-control-on-farms/.

Timm, Robert M. “Controlling Rats and Mice in Swine Facilities.” Extension, 20 Apr. 2010, articles.extension.org/pages/27261/controlling-rats-and-mice-in-swine-facilities.

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