Autumn is the time of year when rodents can become a real pain for farmers. Now that harvest has been completed, sources of food are beginning to diminish and external ambient temperatures are decreasing. Rats and mice now move to warmer environments that offer access to food sources. Vigilance is key, and for good reason: as we have read in a previous blog post, they can cause damage to the fabric of buildings, fires when causing electrical faults by damaging wiring, and they can transmit serious diseases to humans. The cost of an infestation can be extremely damaging financially. There are, however, certain measure that can be taken as part of an overall strategy to control rodents.
Always make sure that food spills that have taken place around external and internal feed bins have been cleared up. Reduce the overall access available to buildings. Although it is pretty well impossible to make arrangements for e.g. a poultry house to be entirely free of rodents, certain measures can be taken to ensure that obstacles are put in their way. Make sure that dwarf walls fit snugly to the main walls and block access to the insulation layer. It is important to seal vulnerable areas of buildings employing materials that rodents are unable to gnaw.
Regularly check that any pipes or ducting between feed preparation areas and buildings in which livestock is housed are closely fitted without gaps. Ensure that materials that might provide nesting sites are stored in secure areas. Either that, or keep moving them regularly in order to disturb the rodents such that they have to move on. It is also important make sure that the areas around buildings are clear of clutter and vegetation. Doing so will put the rodents off owing to the risk of predation posed by the exposure; it will also allow you greater accuracy in your observation of those areas when keeping a look out for the rodents.
Continually monitor your premises for signs of droppings, rub and tail marks, urine and physical damage to the fabric of buildings. If you have more than a few rodents you will know by the ammonia-like smell they produce.
Ensure that the doors to your buildings are structurally sound, and are therefore providing an effective barrier – eliminate gaps between frames and walls. And, of course, whenever it is possible make sure that the doors are shut in order to prevent the rodents entering your buildings from the outside.