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supplement to

EquineJournal

Pest Control e-book

Pest Protection Program TICKED OFF A Step-by-Step Removal Process


r aising the bar for protection comfort. again. and

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IT’S SHOO-FLY SEASON. ARE YOU READY? Safely controlling flies and flying insects for over 35 summers. Summer’s here–and so are the flies and flying insects. Make the season more enjoyable around the barn with an affordable, automatic insecticide spray system from Shoo-Fly. For over35 years, Shoo-Fly has helped keep barns, patios and commercial facilities free of flies and other flying insects, safely and conveniently.

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2017 Pest Control e-book

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contents

Pest Contol e-book

4 Ask the Vet 6 Prepurchase Exam 10 Banished from the Barn Five easy methods to get rid of pests.

Welcome to the Equine Journal’s Pest Control e-book. We have some great articles to help you keep pests at bay around the barn, yourself, and your beloved horse. From ticks and flies to mice and rats, Karen Baril offers some helpful tips to put an end to these nuisances in the article, “Pest Protection Program” on page 16. For more helpful tips, be sure to turn to page 10 and read “Banished From the Barn.” In this article, Natalie DeFee Mendik, discusses five easy ways to rid your barn of pests. We also provide a step-by-step article on how to remove ticks from your horse, which, as the weather warms up, is going to be needed. Find out how on page 6. We hope you enjoy this e-book and it helps you get some peace from those pesky bugs and critters.

EXECUTIVE EDITOR/ GENERAL MANAGER

Elisabeth Prouty-Gilbride OPERATIONS MANAGER

Kelly Lee Brady

16 Pest Protection Program A look at common pests and how to prevent them. BY KAREN ELIZABETH BARIL

on the cover

SENIOR ADVERTISING/ MARKETING CONSULTANT

Karen Desroches ADVERTISING/MARKETING CONSULTANT

Laurel Foster

MANAGING EDITOR

Kelly Ballou

BY NATALIE DEFFEE MENDIK

DIRECTOR OF PRODUCTION

Kristine Miller

ASSOCIATE EDITOR

Kelley Roche

PRODUCTION MANAGERS

EDITORIAL ASSISTANT/ WEB EDITOR

Sherry R. Brown Cher Wheeler

SR GRAPHIC DESIGNER

PRODUCTION ASSISTANT

Terisé Cole

Candice Madrid-Flottum

Charles McClelland

Equine Journal

175 Main St./P.O. Box 386 Oxford, MA 01540 phone: 508-987-5886 subscription questions: 1-800-414-9101 affiliate subscription questions: 1-800-742-9171 international callers: 1-386-246-0102 equinejournal@emailcustomerservice.com www.equinejournal.com

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page 4 COVER PHOTO ISTOCK.COM/VGVPHOTO

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A Publication of MCC Magazines, LLC A Division of Morris Communications Company, LLC 735 Broad St., Augusta, GA 30901 PRESIDENT Donna Kessler REGIONAL VICE PRESIDENT Patty Tiberg DIRECTOR OF CIRCULATION Scott Ferguson DIRECTOR OF MANUFACTURING Donald Horton SENIOR DIGITAL STRATEGIST Sonny Williams DIGITAL CONTENT MANAGER Megan Thomas

Morris Communications Company, LLC CHAIRMAN & CEO William S. Morris III PRESIDENT Will S. Morris IV

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Looking for a Natural Fly Spray that Actually Works? Equiderma All-Natural Neem Outdoor Spray

Developed in the Harsh Environment of the Florida Everglades Great for Both Horse & Rider No doubt we would all rather use a natural spray than poison on our horses, but finding one that really protects your horse is like finding the mythical Unicorn. Consider it FOUND!

Q. So what’s so great about Equiderma Outdoor Spray? A. Equiderma Neem Outdoor Spray is a powerhouse on multiple levels. ❖ Our proprietary blend of Neem and Essential Oils is an effective repellent. Insects hate it! ❖ DEET, Pyrethrin and Permethrin Free ❖ The essential oils in Equiderma Neem Outdoor Spray have anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory agents which will inhibit skin diseases. ❖ With consistent use, the fly population in your barn will vastly diminish; Neem extracts effect insects in the following ways: • Blood-sucking insects can no longer feed • Prevents females from laying eggs • Sterilizes both male and female insects preventing reproduction ❖ The best part is that it smells great! Made with: Concentrated Organic Neem Tea, Neem Oil, Aloe Gel, Cedarwood, Lemongrass, Lemon Peel, Tea Tree, Citronella, Eucalyptus & Lavender

YOUR HAPPINESS IS GUARANTEED! Equiderma Neem Outdoor Spray is 100% Guaranteed to be the best spray you’ve ever used. If you don’t agree we will refund your money. No Hoops, No Hassles, No Kidding.

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ASK THE VET your horse health questions answered

Ticked Off A Step-by-Step Removal Process By CASey L. PACHeCO, DVM

a tick from A: Removing your horse can be chal-

lenging, but necessary, since some ticks can transmit harmful diseases to both you and your horse. There are many folklore remedies to removing ticks that might seem simple to do, but should be avoided. The goal is to remove the tick as quickly and safely as possible. Here are a few easy steps to follow when removing a tick from your horse.

Step 1: Always wear gloves. This will protect you from contracting diseases through microabrasions on your skin or your mucus membranes.

Step 2: To prepare the site where the tick is located, clean the area with a disinfectant such as

health hints

povidone iodine, chlorhexidine, and/or isopropyl alcohol.

Step 3: Using tweezers, grasp the tick as close to the horse’s skin as possible and apply even pressure while pulling straight out. Try not to twist or pull at an angle. The goal is to remove the tick in its entirety, as it is extremely common for it to break off and leave the mouthparts within the skin.

Step 4: Once the tick is removed, clean the site once again with disinfectant and place the tick in a jar of isopropyl alcohol. It may be beneficial to keep the tick for your veterinarian to examine in case there is any question about disease transmission. Never dispose of the tick by crushing it between your fingers, lighting it on fire, or flushing it down the toilet. After removing your gloves, be sure to wash your hands thor-

LEArn AbouT LymE Know How To SpoT THE DiSEASE

SymptomS oF LymE diSEASE in horSES vAry bEtwEEn individuALS; however, they normally include one or more of the following: • Lameness • Arthritis • Fever • Edema

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equine Journal

• Eye inflammation • Joint swellings • Muscle fatigue

| 2017 Pest Control e-book

oughly with soap and water.

Step 5: Should there be any question of part of the tick being left behind, be sure to check the site daily for infection. Signs of infection include redness, swelling, and/or discharge from the site. If this is the case, do not attempt to remove the embedded parts by digging with tweezers. For further instructions on proper removal, please call your veterinarian. As mentioned above, ticks can be challenging to remove and can cause harm to both you and your horse if not treated carefully. If you have questions about tick removal or feel your horse may have contracted a tick-born disease, please be sure to call your veterinarian with your concerns.

Photo: istock.com/goldfinch4ever

Q:

What is the proper way to remove a tick? What should I be aware of?


All Natural Insect Repellent Hang in a barn or shed to repel flies, mosquitoes, gnats and other insects. BugPellent’s patented vapor release design provides an alternative to harsh chemicals in whole barn spray systems. Works without power or flame.

REFILLS AVAILABLE Contains 9 Essential Oils & Natural Waxes More effective than citronella alone No Pyrethrins • No Pyrethrums No Pyrethroids

Also available as Fly & Tick Spray, and Gel. Protect the whole family this season! Great for Horses, Dogs, & Humans Controls deer, house, stable, horse and Better than Leading Natural Spray Competitor!* black flies, ticks, mosquitoes, and gnats. Natural BugPellent Fly & Tick Spray Kills or repels 90% of flies! Repelled Killed

*Independent test results from Snell Scientifics, LLC.

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PREPURCHASE EXAM 1. KENSINGTON TEXTILENE® PROTECTIVE FLY SHEET

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This innovative Textilene fabric meant business, offering protection against fighting insects while blocking 78% of UV rays (yay for no more faded coats). The blanket held up well, resisting tears and holes in all but the most extreme situations (we declare two unruly youngsters going at it as quite extreme!). Lined shoulders kept the blanket from causing rubs, and the thick wither padding protected the mane. We found this sheet ran a bit small, so buyers should keep that in mind when ordering. BUY IT: KensingtonProducts.com; $149.99

2. SMARTPAK OUTSMART FLY SPRAY Our natural product-loving tester was a big fan of this fly spray from SmartPak that is made completely from non-toxic, plant-based ingredients. The sensitive horse this was tested on showed no signs of irritation or reaction to the

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spray, and it is gentle enough to be used on humans, too. The fresh peppermint scent of OutSmart may smell nice to its users, but the bugs can’t stand it—the spray repels numerous types of flies as well as mosquitos and ticks! Our tester also noted that the spray bottle was easy to use, didn’t leak, and had a powerful spray, so only a few pumps were needed. BUY IT: smartpak.com; $19.95

3. EQYSS FLEA BITE FLEA & TICK SHAMPOO Our tester tried this product on their pet with sensitive skin (who regularly breaks out into hives), and was glad to see she didn’t have a reaction to it, and that the shampoo left her coat nice and soft. With ingredients such as cedarwood, peppermint, rosemary, and lemongrass oil, the smell of this shampoo was heavenly, and our tester found herself wishing there was a version made for humans (label says not for human use)! After a long walk outside on a warm and sunny day, and a thorough inspection, she also felt assured that her pet remained unharmed by bugs. BUY IT: eqyss.com; $14.99

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PREPURCHASE EXAM

PEST L RO CONTU CTS PROD

4. PROFESSIONAL’S

CHOICE FLY MASK

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This durable mask, with its rip-stop technology, was strong enough to endure everything that our tester’s playful pony was able to throw at it. With the added benefit of a breathable mesh around the poll, sweating (and hence, the itching) was kept to a minimum. The mesh mask had great visibility and strategic darts that protected the horse’s eyes. As an added bonus, it offered UV protection, great for those horses with big white faces that are prone to burning. BUY IT: ProfChoice.com; $18.95

5. NOBLE OUTFITTERS

GUARDSMAN FLY MASK

Fly masks just got an upgrade! The Guardsman Fly Mask has a removable nose attachment and unique Flex Spline Technology; flexible boning that holds the mask off the horse’s face and away from the eyes, which our tester loved. Our tester also appreciated the heavy-duty closure that made the mask impossible for her escape artist horse to remove and the info tag for easy identification. A Velcro loop at the top of the mask adds some security as it can be attached to the horse’s halter and soft fleece lines the crown and nose to prevent rubbing. BUY IT: nobleoutfitters.com; $24.95

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Non-profit organizations can contact editorial@equinejournal.com to request an item from EJ’s Tack Trunk.

Our testers: This month, our Prepurchase Exam was conducted by: Elisabeth Gilbride, Executive Editor; Kelly Ballou, Managing Editor; and Terisé Cole, Editorial Assistant/Web Editor.

Do you have a product to suggest? Contact editorial@equineJournal.com with your ideas. 2017 Pest Control e-book

| EQUINEJOURNAL.COM

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MediaMARKET

Sponsored Content

Understanding Fly Spray Options by Decoding Product Labels Sponsored by Absorbine ANYONE WHO HAS EVER SHOPPED FOR FLY spray knows there is a lot of language on the product labels. So just what does all that language on fly spray bottles really mean? Let’s see if we can break it down.

broken down by sunlight, so their effectiveness can last for several days. Both pyrethrins and pyrethroids have a long track record for effectiveness and animal safety on horses.

Product Claims

Many of the actives listed above work with a synergist. Synergists are chemical agents used in conjunction with the actives to enhance killing power and provide longerlasting protection. The most commonly used synergists are Piperonyl Butoxide (PBO), Butoxypolypropylene Glycol, and N-Octyl Bicycloheptene Dicarboximide (MGK 264). Piperonyl Butoxide kills by attacking the fly’s central nervous system and provides a quick knockdown. It kills on contact when used with pyrethrin. Butoxypolypropolene Glycol has residual effects, acts as a repellent and is water repellent. N-Octyl Bicycloheptene Dicarboximide is both a mosquito repellent and a synergist. It helps prevent the insect’s body from producing a detoxifying enzyme, therefore preventing insecticide degradation.

First, everything written in the bigger font size tells you what the product does—in marketing lingo, these are the product claims. Manufacturers can’t just say whatever they want on the labels, though. Fly sprays are highly regulated for safety and efficacy by the EPA, and the language used on label claims is equally regulated.

Ingredient Listing The small type you see under those claims, at the bottom of the label on the front of the product, is where the rubber really meets the road. This language lists active ingredients, synergists, inactive ingredients, and the percentages of those ingredients. The types and levels of active ingredients can vary among fly spray products, but they make a big difference in helping you understand how well you can expect a fly spray to work and which ones are worth your money.

Actives Actives are the ingredients that have insecticide (killing) and repellent power. Many of the most commonly used actives have both insecticide and repellent characteristics. There are two forms of actives, namely natural and synthetic. The most common actives are pyrethrins, permethrin, resmethrin, tetramethrin, and cypermethrin. More recently, picaridin has come on the market for use as a combined horse and human insect repellent spray. Pyrethrins are natural and are extracted from certain types of chrysanthemums. They provide very quick knockdown—in other words, they kill the insects quickly. However, pyrethrins are broken down rapidly by sunlight, so synergists are often added to protect and extend the effectiveness of the formula. Pyrethroids are synthetic forms of pyrethrins. The most common pyrethroids are permethrin, cypermethrin, tetramethrin, and resmethrin. Pyrethroids are not as easily 8

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Synergists

Comparing Levels of Active Ingredients

There are advantages and disadvantages to both. Water-based fly sprays are nontoxic and non-irritating to the horse’s skin and won’t attract dirt or dust. However, water-based sprays should also include synergists in the formula to keep them from breaking down in environmental conditions (sunlight, rain, sweat, etc.). Oil-based fly sprays quickly stick to the hair coat and provide rapid knockdown of insects by suffocating them when sprayed. However, due to the nature of oil, oil-based fly sprays will attract dirt and dust. In addition, oil-based fly sprays can irritate the skin of sensitive horses and some horses are prone to burning if they are sprayed with an oil-based product and then turned out in the sun. It’s not always easy to determine if a fly spray uses a water or an oil base. The easiest way to tell is to look at the bottom of the active ingredient listing. If you see the statement, “Contains Petroleum Distillate,” then you know the product is oil-based.

All-Natural Fly Repellents

Water-Based or Oil-Based?

Another option to consider when shopping for fly sprays are those that use natural ingredients. All-natural fly sprays provide a safe alternative to chemical sprays. They are generally environmentally friendly, non-toxic, and insecticide-free. Natural fly sprays commonly use natural oils known to repel insects such as citronella, geraniol, eucalyptus, thyme, cedar oil, lemongrass, rosemary oil, and clove oil. You’ll notice on the label of natural fly sprays that they do not contain insecticides. This means that natural fly sprays will not kill insects. Instead, they will only repel insects. Because of this, natural fly sprays will not be effective at reducing the insect population around your barn. The ingredients in natural fly sprays also breakdown more quickly than their chemical counterparts and so they must be reapplied often, usually every eight hours. However, natural fly sprays can be a great option for people looking to go green, or for people who may want to use fewer chemicals when the bug population is low in the early spring and late summer and fall.

Another point of difference in fly sprays is whether they’re water-based or oil-based.

© 2017 W.F. Young, Inc.

When comparing fly sprays, it’s important to look beyond the price tag and focus instead on the list of the active ingredients and the levels of those ingredients included in the formula. Let’s say you have brand A and brand B. You look at the active ingredients and their percentages and see that brand A contains 0.10% permethrin and brand B contains 0.50% permethrin. That means there is five times more of the active ingredient in brand B. Which brand do you think will be more effective? Continue this comparison for each of the active ingredients listed and also look for the number of active ingredients in each formula to make an informed choice among the different brands of fly spray available. It’s easy to be disappointed by brands with very low levels of actives and therefore a lower price. With fly sprays, as with most things in life, you really do get what you pay for.


THERE’S A REASON

IT ALWAYS WEARS

BLACK OUR MOST ADVANCED PROTECTION • Designed for the most challenging conditions • Sun, sweat, water, and rain resistant formula • Broad spectrum control against biting and nuisance flies, mosquitoes, ticks, and gnats on horses • Leaves a shiny coat

©2017 W. F. Young, Inc.

For horse care tips and videos, visit absorbine.com

The Horse World’s Most Trusted Name®

2017 Pest Control Guide

| EQUINEJOURNAL.COM

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Keep birds at bay in large open barns and indoor arenas by reducing nesting spots.

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equine Journal

| 2017 Pest Control Guide


Banished from the Barn » BY NATALIE DEFEE MENDIK

m

5

ods to h t e M y s Ea Pests f o d i R t Ge quine in Your Ety Facili

PHOTO: ©ISTOCKPHOTO.COM/NATHAN GLEAVE PHOTO: ©ISTOCKPHOTO.COM/NATHAN GLEAVE

Mouse droppings, flyspeck—there’s no mistaking the telltale signs left by the scourge of every barn: pests. Whether rodent, insect, or avian, keeping control of your stable’s pest population is not only good horsekeeping— these nuisances can pose a threat to horse health, along with sometimes even wreaking havoc on the stable’s structure. Taking some simple steps goes a long way toward reducing the pest population that would like to call your barn home. »

2017 Pest Control e-book

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Air Movement

Insects and farms often go hand-in-hand, but with good management, it doesn’t have to be this way. “The generic term ‘pest’ is all-encompassing; just as the word describes, it’s anything that is annoying and can spread disease,” says Adam Hatton, sales manager at Big Ass Fans in Lexington, KY. Insects often found in the stable include airborne pests, such as flies, and ground insects, such as spiders. Combating insects on multiple fronts can lead to successfully reducing their population. First, flying insects, the most common of which in a stable is the fly, do not tolerate airflow well. “When you have proper air movement, it reduces the occurrence of airborne pests,” explains Hatton. “In simple terms: the flies can’t fly when the wind is blowing. Adequate air movement throughout the entire facility reduces the occurrence of flies and other airborne insects.” In addition to keeping common house and stable flies out of your barn, air movement augments natural ventilation, helping to dry wet areas that provide insectbreeding sites. All fans are not created equal, however. It’s crucial that those in the stable are designed for agricultural use. Many commonly-used box and ceiling fans are designed solely for home use, posing a serious fire Automatic spray » hazard if used in a systems are a barn, as they are not powerful tool in designed for a barn the insect-control arsenal. environment, where 12

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dust and moisture can cause an electrical hazard. Choosing the right fan system depends on your facility’s design. Some companies offer different types of fans tailored toward the needs of horse owners, such as traditional agricultural overhead fans and directional fans designed to be both quiet and durable. In addition to discouraging insects, airflow promotes natural ventilation, cooling the stable in summer and recirculating warm air in the winter. Ammonia and moisture are banished as well, reducing both odors and horse health risks. Energy-efficient fans, hard-wired into the stable’s electrical system, really pay off in the long-run in terms of functionality, economy, design, and looks. Along with fans, automatic spray systems are a powerful tool in the insect-control arsenal. “I think all barns should have the ability to automatically spray insecticides,” remarks Dennis Marion, of Innovative Equine Systems in Minden, NV. “There are simple and inexpensive automatic systems on the market that really take care of the problem. Planning an automatic system before you build or remodel allows hidden tubing.”

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Spraying Solutions

Benjamin Esch, of B & D Builders, in Ronks, PA, also recommends an automated, timer-controlled system, which generally includes a nozzle in every stall, and occasionally, some throughout the aisles. These nozzles deliver at pre-selected times a fine mist of insecticide, which

PHOTOS: (TOP) COURTESY OF BIG ASS FANS; 9BOTTOM) SUZEN DYSLIN

Circulating air from fans keeps insects and birds from taking up residence in the barn.


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For small-scale changes, simply resolve to take steps to create a happy, healthy, pest-free home for your horses, and space for you to enjoy your equine pursuits.

eliminates mature insects, interrupts the insect-breeding cycle, and repels new insects. This serves to both kill off existing insects and prohibit re-infestation. Naturally, many worry about health and environmental concerns associated with insecticides. Look for a reputable company specializing in natural, biodegradable formulas, which are EPA approved; many businesses install within state-of-the art equine facilities, such as university veterinary hospitals. Tired of deer flies, bot flies, horse flies, house flies, ticks, spiders, gnats, mosquitoes, stink bugs, and more? These surprisingly economical systems may just be the end of your insect woes.

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Killing the Culprit

4

Basic Housekeeping

Other effective methods beyond stable design include fly predators, which are beneficial insects that feed on fly larvae; insect-control supplements, which either deter insects with scents such as garlic, or break the life cycle of the fly by killing the larvae in the horse’s manure; and, manual flytraps and sticky paper, which attract and kill flies.

Basic housekeeping is important as well. Flies are attracted to odors; sweep up any spilled grain in aisles, stalls, and the feed room. Also, store trash cans away from the barn if possible. Secure lids on garbage cans to keep flies out, while lining the bin with plastic bags to reduce residues and odors flies seek out. Eliminate moist, rotting organic material, which provides an optimal environment for flies to lay eggs. Clear away piles of leaves and old hay, and have a solid manure-management plan. The best way to keep rodents at bay is to run a tight ship. The root of controlling mice and rat populations lies in eliminating their access to food. It’s pretty simple. “The biggest challenge with rodents is the mice and rats getting into feed areas,” notes Esch. “You need rodent-proof feed bins, contained in a separate room with a good, tight door.” Imagine an airtight door with a solid seal, which rodents simply cannot scoot under. “Many tack and feed rooms use an interior door, which leaves room for rodents to enter the room,” explains Marion. “An exterior door has a threshold 14

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which prevents rodent entry.” Inside the feed room, grain should be stored in sealed bins. These can be simple, such as plastic trash cans with locking lids, or more upscale, like built-in wooden bins. Don’t leave bags of grain out; be sure to empty all feed into tight containers. Fortunately, other mammalian pests, such as opossums and raccoons, tend to not be such a problem in newer barns. As with rodents, eliminating easy feed sources discourages their nightly visits. Last, but not least, don’t underestimate the hunting prowess of a few good barn cats.

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No More Nesting

Fans not only keep insects away, but also discourage birds from nesting in the barn, as they are afraid of the moving blades. Other ways to keep them from taking up a permanent residence is to reduce nesting spots. “Birds are definitely a challenge in indoor arenas and large open barns,” remarks Esch. Within these large structures with tall ceilings are many places birds like to roost. Trusses, for example, are a favorite hangout and nesting spot for birds. These framework pieces, generally made of wood, are found high up in the ceiling, running parallel to the ground. Eliminating areas such as these is the most effective way of discouraging birds. Rafters, which run from the apex of the roof to the exterior walls, provide no nesting areas. Clear fabric roofs, while incorporating trusses in their designs, are also touted as offering limited roosting areas to birds. B & D Builders also recommends Simple Saver®, a vapor-barrier insulation system which creates a ceiling within structures, covering any roofing pillars on which birds may nest.

Pest-Free and the Living is Easy If you’re looking at taking on some of the bigger projects, consult with a professional who really understands horses and equine facilities. “Speak to a company that works in this industry,” notes Hatton. An expert understands the unique needs within a stable, and can help design or retrofit an equine facility to suit your needs. For small-scale changes, simply resolve to take steps to create a happy, healthy, pestfree home for your horses, and space for you to enjoy your equine pursuits.


Tired of fighting Cannon Bone Crud?

Problem - You’ve given your horse a thorough grooming and as you step back to take in the beauty of your labor - UGGG, like a beacon of defeat, there it is - Cannon Bone Crud that just won’t come off no matter what you do. So, you ignore it, pretend you don’t see it and tell yourself it’s not that noticeable. Solution - Equiderma Skin Lotion effortlessly removes cannon bone crud in 24 hours. It’s so simple you’ll think it’s too good to be true... Here’s what you do - Apply Equiderma Skin Lotion and just leave it on. Do not make any effort to remove the buildup. Come back tomorrow and notice how the gunk is sitting on top of the hair coat. Shampoo legs and re-apply Equiderma Skin Lotion. Viola’, problem solved. ~ ALL GONE. It’s as easy as that.

Our Guarantee! We Guarantee it’ll work exactly like we say or your money back. No Hoops, No Hassles, No Kidding!

www.equiderma.com

800.573.1020


T S PE

n o i T C e T o Pr

M A R G O R P how to keep unwelcome barn visitors at bay By Karen Elizabeth Baril

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L

ast fall, my husband and I made an unpleasant discovery. We found a sizable hole in one corner of our Haflinger gelding’s stall. A quick search outside of the barn revealed yet another hole under the drain spout. The hole, about the circumference of a bocce ball, was far too big for a mouse. No, this was the handiwork of a rat. Now, I know that both mice and rats share equal responsibility when it comes to disease and destruction, but somehow rats seem even creepier and more ominous to me. In fact, pest control experts say that rats are more difficult to discourage than mice once they’ve established a colony. “Well,” my husband said, “we’ll have to take care of this on the weekend.”

That was on Tuesday night. By Saturday morning, we had six to eight fresh holes both inside and outside of the barn. In less than a week, our barn had become home to a thriving colony of rats. Aside from the very real threat of disease to both horse and human, these rats were threatening our barn’s foundation with a system of tunnels that made the London Underground look like child’s play. Clearly, we had a serious problem. If you keep horses, you know that keeping rodents at bay is an ongoing battle, but rats and

mice are not the only pests we have to worry about. Equally threatening are bees, hornets, flies, and mosquitoes. But, as unwelcome as barn pests are—they aren’t always uninvited. In our case, the rats had found an easy food source in a vegetable garden compost we kept too close to the barn. Easy access through the dirt foundation made our barn an appealing place to set up camp. For horse owners, the best way to fight back is in prevention. Here’s a quick course in why pest control is so important and some safe practice ideas you can use for your barn and farm.

Rats and Mice

PhOTO: iSTOck.cOM/AlPTRAuM

Rats and mice differ in their lifestyles. Rats tend to live outdoors for most of the year, only searching for winter quarters in the fall. Mice, on the other hand, spend most of their lives indoors, in barns, houses, attics, and basements, venturing out to forage for food or nesting material. Both are a hazard in the barn. In fact, it’s estimated that rodents are responsible for 25 percent of all unexplained barn fires. They wreak havoc on saddles, blankets, and other tack and will chew through wood, plastic, and electrical wire with impunity. The disease threat is equally significant. Rats and mice can spread cryptosporidiosis, salmonella, brucellosis, leptospirosis, trichinosis, and rabies. They’re also known carriers of mites, ticks, lice, fleas, and internal parasites. They contaminate grain with their droppings and can even spread disease by scurrying over other animal’s feces, like cats, raccoons, dogs, and equines. They love all those nibbles of grain you occasionally spill, any unsecured garbage, and even

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stray birdseed at the feeder. The first plan of attack is to make sanitation your number one priority in and around the barn.

• Keep the barn clean. Avoid sprays that have a sweet odor.

Battle Plan:

• “Keep garbage and feed contained,” advises Jenifer Nadeau, associate professor and equine extension specialist with the University of Connecticut. “Clean up any spills right away and practice good barn hygiene.” • “Prevent animals from entering the barn as much as possible,” says Nadeau. This is difficult in the barn environment, she admits, but installing a solid exterior style door on the feed room can help. This will keep skunks and raccoons at bay as well. Mice, however, are better at finding access—consider that a mouse can squeeze through an opening the size of your thumb. • Set snap-traps in safe places, out of reach of curious cats and equine muzzles. Snap traps are considered one of the most humane methods of rodent control— glue traps and poison are not recommended for the barn environment (see sidebar). • For serious problems (around chicken coops or under dirt foundations), consider digging a very narrow trench along the outside wall of the barn and sink hardware cloth to a depth of 12 inches. This will discourage most pests from burrowing underneath the barn. • Attract raptors and barn owls to keep rodent populations down naturally. “An average Barn Owl family consists of four to five chicks,” says Alex Godbe, director of the Hungry Owl Project in Marin County, CA, “and each chick has an enormous appetite, eating up to six or more rodents a night, which can mean, including the parents, as many as 3,000 rodents in a four month breeding cycle.” In good years, barn owls raise two clutches. “That’s a lot of inexpensive and efficient rodent control!” points out Godbe (see sidebar for tips on creating an owl habitat).

Bees and Wasps

Battle Plan:

• Keep tight lids on all trash cans. equine Journal

| 2017 Pest Control e-book

• Look around the barn for places bees might like to set up camp: a stack of wood, old pallets, a discarded bale of hay. Remove them if you can. • Never disturb a nest or crush a wasp. When wasps and bees sense danger they release an alarm pheromone that signals wasp guards to attack. • If you discover a beneficial bee’s nest (honeybee or bumblebee), but it’s in an inconvenient place, consider calling a local beekeeper for help in relocating the nest to a safer spot.

Mosquitoes and Flies

Mosquitoes and flies live fairly short lives, but are one of the most prolific barn pests. Consider that a single female mosquito can lay up to 400,000 eggs in her short lifespan—a period of a week to a little more than a month, depending on the weather conditions. Despite their diminutive size, mosquitoes are a very real threat to horses, capable of spreading EEE (eastern equine encephalomyelitis), WEE (western equine encephalomyelitis), and WNV (West Nile virus).

Battle Plan:

• The most effective strategy is to reduce standing water, says Nadeau. “Check gutters, buckets, drain spouts, and wheelbarrows for standing water. Consider planting buffer plants that will take up excess water around paddocks and driveways. • “Remove as much organic matter as you can,” Nadeau suggests. “It’s a breeding ground for flies.” • Mosquitoes and flies are adept fliers, but a strong breeze dampens their enthusiasm. “Keep the air moving with fans,” suggests Nadeau. • Utilize parasitoid wasps that feed on fly larvae. • Create good bat and bird habitats. Bats and some birds, including Barn Swallows, Bluebirds, Purple Martins, and Cedar Waxwings offer safe and excellent mosquito control by feeding on flying insects. • Limit exposure at peak mosquito feeding times; dawn and dusk. • Use fly sheets to protect your horses from painful bites. • Test all fly sprays first to be sure your horse won’t have an allergic reaction even if the label says it’s safe for use on horses.

If you have a barn, chances are you’ll have to battle a pest problem eventually. The key is to make cleanliness your number one priority and to remain vigilant. A little persistence goes a long way as well.

PhOTO: iSTOck.cOM/ AlE-kS

While bees and wasps rarely present the disease threat that rodents bring, they’re dangerous residents in the barn environment. Even one sting can spook a horse on cross-ties, multiple stings can prove deadly. But, aside from the painful stings bees and wasps deliver, some, like the carpenter bee, can cause significant damage to structures as they bore holes to create a habitat. Keep in mind, though, that many bees, including the honeybee, bumblebees, mason bees, and leafcutter bees are critical to pollination. Because so many bees are in trouble these days, it’s bad practice to use oldfashioned insecticides. Worse yet, spray insecticides can irritate delicate equine airways. That doesn’t mean you have to live with a bee or wasp problem, though. Here are a few tips on keeping them at bay:

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• Never leave open soda or drink containers. Bees are attracted to sweet scents.


PhOTOS: iSTOck.cOM/STEvAnOviciGOR PhOTOS: iSTOck.cOM/STEvAnOviciGOR

DangeRs oF Using Poison in the BaRn When my husband and I discovered a rat colony had moved into our barn last fall, the clerk at the local feed store sent us home with poisonous pellets to put down the holes. We didn’t like the idea of poisoning any animal, even such a lowly being as a barn rat, but we also felt a little desperate and knew of no other alternative. Three days later, we found one dead rat. Well, we thought, at least our strategy was working. But a week or so later, there were no more dead rats and we began finding the poison pellets in odd places, like in the barn aisle or next to the water spigot. We don’t know if the rats were that smart or if the pellets were bumped out of the holes as they traveled around at night. Either way, we now faced the risk of the barn cat, our dog, or a horse accidentally ingesting the poisonous pellet. Worse yet, we discovered we could be putting other animals at risk. Raptors and owls can die or get weak from eating a rat that has died or ingested poison. “Secondary poisoning is devastating to raptor populations,” says Alex Godbe, director of the Hungry Owl Project “as well as other rodent eating predators such as coyotes, fox, bobcats, and mountain lions. These predators are nature’s best method of rodent control, but as their numbers decline, pest problems increase.” “When encouraging Barn Owls for rodent control, it is completely counter productive and not recommended to use rodent poison,” says Godbe. “The owls work efficiently as part of an IPM approach that includes Exclusion, Prevention, and Trapping and encouraging rodent eating predators such as Barn Owls.” Godbe’s organization assists in keeping rodent

populations down by helping farm and barn owners create good owl habitats. “We have many great success stories from local farms, ranchers, private home owners, orchards, and stables that include owls as part of their pest control management.” “Barn Owls, unlike most other raptors, are not territorial,” says Godbe. This is very useful because many owl families can live in one location. “We generally recommend four to six boxes per 50 acres as a start, but the more boxes, the better chance of attracting owls. Boxes can be attached to mature trees, sides of buildings, or installed on 4x6 untreated wooden posts about nine to 12’ high. The direction the box faces is important, so avoid facing toward the southwest or prevailing winds. Shade is very important and having a mature tree within 30’ of the entrance hole provides safety for young owls to fly to. Install them in a quiet secluded place away from roads and human activity. There is no need to put anything in the box as nesting material, the owls form a nest using their own regurgitated pellets that consist of bone and soft fur.” Barn Owls eat a wide variety of rodents including voles, moles, gophers, rats, and mice. They are amazing to watch at night hovering silently over the ground hunting for their next meal. “They’re super-efficient hunters of rodents,” says Godbe. “They’re low cost and just a beautiful vision to see. Who wouldn’t want to employ owls as their pest control management service?” Visit hungryowl.org for information on building your own nesting boxes and creating a good owl habitat.

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