New regulations affect rodent control on farms Autumn has arrived and rodents are moving from fields into farm buildings. Controlling them while numbers are relatively low is imperative, says David Reece, technical adviser at Lodi UK, who outlines the new regulations which apply.
clamps in search of shelter, warmth and food. Be extra-vigilant and ready to take action if the evidence warrants it. As this is a very busy period on farms, controlling rodents is not top of everyone’s list. However, it’s a vital aspect of risk management, because an outbreak of salmonella, for example, could lead to significant financial loss. If you don’t have time yourself leave the job to a professional pest controller with specialist knowledge of rural situations.
Protecting buildings, infrastructures, stored crops and feed effectively under the new regulations, requires a carefully planned strategy and early action, using products which deal efficiently with rats and mice.
Rodents, rightly, have a bad press! In its life, a rat will produce 15,000 droppings and excrete six litres of urine, a mouse 30,000 and one litre. For every 1kg of grain they eat, rodents contaminate a further 3kg, causing huge waste and financial loss. They carry ectoparasites such as fleas, mites and lice, as well as the microbial infections which cause diseases that include salmonellosis, toxoplasmosis, leptospirosis (Weil’s disease) and brucellosis. A quarter of farm fires result from gnawing of electrical wiring, while damage to buildings is enormous. With ever-higher standards of production required to comply with farm assurance schemes and food safety legislation, controlling them effectively is a priority. New EU anticoagulant rodenticides and biocides legislation affects the action which can be taken and products are tightly regulated. Under the new regulations a pastestyle bromadiolone-type bait, such as Lodi Jade, is ideal as it contains mulched cereals and peanut butter oils to encourage consumption. Lodi’s Ruby, a difenacoum-based product containing peanut oils, is proven in the most difficult environments while Sapphire, a brodifacoum-based bait formulated from premium grade cereals and peanut butter oil, will kill rodents in a single feed.
New labels In April 2016 new “stewardship conditions” labels carrying legallybinding instructions pertaining to
the sale and use of such products were introduced. To purchase them you have to provide proof of competence. There are four options: • Possession of a certificate from an approved training programme and awarding organisation. There are various ways to gain such a qualification. For example, Lodi UK offers a free on-line training (www.lodi-farmsolutions.com ) • Engagement of a professional pest control contractor with such a certificate • Membership of a UK farm assurance scheme which incorporates a structured, documented and audited programme of rodenticide pest management • Purchase and use of ‘amateur’ rodenticides – limited to pack sizes of up to 1.5kg bait point packs
Early control is key Protecting buildings, infrastructures, stored crops and feed effectively under the new regulations, requires a carefully planned strategy and early action, using products which deal efficiently with rats and mice. The new legislation gives you just 42 days to clear up an infestation, or prove it still exists. Control strategies must therefore be pro-active, because once they become established controlling them will be more difficult, time consuming and expensive. It is becoming more difficult for rodents to find food outdoors and as temperatures fall they will move from fields and ditches into farm buildings, straw stacks and forage
The early signs of rodents often go unnoticed and by the time they become obvious numbers are high. Don’t wait for a problem to develop before investigating – just because you’ve not seen rats or mice doesn’t mean they’re not there. Rodents multiply at an alarming rate – a pair of brown rats can become 200 within 12 months; two house mice 60 in a quarter of that time. Even a small number will quickly populate an area so you have to kill a very high percentage, which requires knowledge, skill, attention to detail and time. Experienced pest controllers monitor rodent activity carefully after harvest, test-bait heavily and if action is warranted
they use proven methods, correct techniques and high-quality, fastacting products. Many cheap block-type baits are now ineffective against rats, which often store them like a squirrel hides nuts, so just because bait is being taken don’t assume it is being consumed. There’s also little point in putting down grain-based bait in and around a grain store. To be effective, bait must be highly palatable and more attractive than ordinary grain, so choose a modern, fast-acting bait. Outside, bait containers should be positioned adjacent to walls some time before baiting begins so they become familiar. Inside, secure bait boxes should be located where there are signs of activity, or rodents are likely to track. Check, and re-fill them until fresh activity ceases and your rodent problem has been contained. Burrow baiting is very effective against rats and reduces the risk to non-target species. However, you must follow the ‘little and often’ principle and be able to retrieve unconsumed bait. ■
For every 1kg of grain they eat, rodents contaminate a further 3kg, causing huge waste and financial loss.
Rodent control – points to consider • Rats and mice are quite different in terms of lifestyle and activity. Rats
• • •
• • •
generally live outside in burrows and only venture indoors in search of food, whereas mice often live entirely indoors. Rats tend to eat grain end-on, so half-eaten grains make them the likely culprits. Mice tend to chew around the grain, leaving a lot of chaff Continually monitor for signs of activity, such as droppings, urine, rub and tail marks, tracks and damage to the fabric of buildings. If more than a few are present you should be able to smell them Preventing rodents from accessing grain stores is unlikely to be 100 per cent effective because most offer multiple entry points, but make it as difficult as possible and effectively control those that do get in Keep areas around buildings clean and tidy, creating a clear buffer zone. Ideally, the area around buildings should be concrete, but any clutter, piles of straw, or an adjacent forage clamp will provide refuge and make the transition easier. Where there is no concrete pad, rats and mice will live in the grass, and vegetation growing against a building will potentially allow them access above the dwarf wall Modern, purpose-built grain stores should be fairly rodent proof, but keep doors shut when the store is not in use Make rodent access to existing buildings as difficult as you can by repairing gaps in walls/doors, gutters/downpipes and block potential entry points On-floor drying systems make it easy for rodents to gain entry where air is drawn in, so fit fan covers and use them whenever they are not in use. Once mice get into under-floor ducting they are very difficult to eliminate
24 www.farmersguide.co.uk October 2016
1-31 ROP Oct.indd 24