Keep especially alert for early signsof rats this autumn and nip any infestations firmly in the bud to avoid arepeat of the serious and extended problems seen across the country last winter.
This is the timely advice of BASFs national rodent control specialist, SharonHughes, in the wake of the worst rat problems experienced by many farms in morethan decade.
Last seasons dramatic surge in ratproblems almost certainly had its roots in a failure to get on top ofpopulations in the previous exceptionally mild winter, she explained.
The factthat infestations continued to be troublesome right through to this spring, inmany cases suggests relatively high rat populations will have gone out intofields.
So, with reasonable summer breedingconditions another substantial migration into farmsteads is again likely thisseason. Fail to hit any early infestations hard and youll be facing anotherlosing battle to dislodge large, well-entrenched rat populations.
All Sharon Hughes extensive experience and trial work shows that the best,most economic way to control rats is to employ a highly palatable rodenticideat the first signs of infestation and across every part of the farm whereactivity can be detected.
Wait until you see rats and youll be too late, she insisted. They onlybecome visible around active farm buildings when population pressures forcethem to forage in daylight hours. Otherwise, they only emerge to feed verydiscretely at night.
Its easy to spot infestations, though. Rat runs along the sides of buildings,faeces and hair in and around stored grain and feed, discarded grain and feedwhere they shouldnt be, and freshly-gnawed bottoms of doors, fences andpartitions are all tell-tale signs.
Only you have to know what yourelooking for and keep a careful eye out for the signs on a regular basis everyweek from late August, Id suggest.
Once you see any signs, search thewhole farmstead, concentrating on over-grown vegetation close to buildings, onsites where waste wood, pallets, tyres or other materials are stacked, along theinternal and external sides of buildings, and in the quieter, more concealed areasrats invariably favour.
Then put down plenty of bait points wherever you can detect activity and fillthem with one of the most palatable rodenticides you can get. Id use a modernforaging grain bait like Neosorexa Gold or one of the special Neosorexa orStorm pasta formulations proven to give far more rapid and complete uptake thanordinary grain baits, she advised. Thiswill be especially important wherever alternative food sources are readilyavailable.
Whatever bait is used, Sharon Hughes isadamant that it has to be put down in the right places, kept well topped-up accordingto the label so all the individuals can consume a lethal dose, and left inplace until all signs of rat activity cease, but no more than 35 days.
At the same time, she underlines the vital importance of taking sufficient careto protect other wildlife and pets by covering and protecting the rodenticideadequately, removing all rodent carcases and clearing any unused bait awaythoroughly once control has been achieved.
Last years problems clearly highlighted how critical it is to have sufficientof the right sort of rodenticide bait on hand from the start of the winter anduse it widely and effectively enough as soon as the first signs of infestationscan be found, she concluded.
Hit rats hard before they become well-established around your buildings andyoull save yourself a lot of time, effort and expense in subsequent baitingthroughout the winter, not to mention grain and feed contamination and damage.