A zero tolerance approach to rats from the outset this season will save UK farmers considerable time
A zero tolerance approach to rats from the outset this season will save UK farmers considerable time, effort and expense over the coming winter and minimise risks to wildlife, believes a leading independent pest control specialist.Providing expert advice to agricultural and food businesses across the world, Adrian Meyer of Acheta draws on his extensive farm advisory service experience to stress that the real problem with rats on too many farms is that they are seen as inevitable.“You will have rat problems if you invite them,” he insists. “And your problems will get worse and more costly in damage as well as bait if you leave infestations until rats are obvious around the farm.”However, you can dramatically reduce both the scale and frequency of infestations with simple, inexpensive and wildlife-friendly action to make your farm less attractive to rats. Action like clearing out the dumping grounds and rough areas they favour for nesting; removing vegetation within 10-30m of buildings to increase their vulnerability while foraging; proofing grain and feed stores to make it hard for them to access food sources; and ensuring spilled and surplus grain – including any remaining in the combine after harvesting – is never left lying around.”Alongside this ‘good house-keeping’, Adrian Meyer stresses that quality baiting should start at the very first signs of infestation.”Signs of rats should be actively searched for at least once a week, particularly in the autumn and early winter,” he suggests. “Look for burrows in all the most likely areas together with droppings and tell-tale rat runs along the sides of buildings, hedgerows and ditches. Even a thorough check won’t take long. But it will make all the difference in nipping infestations in the bud before rat populations grow to a level at which they need far more widespread and lengthy baiting to control.”Adrian Meyer has no doubt that the best and safest control comes from delivering a lethal rodenticide dose to as many rats as possible as quickly as possible. The key requirement is a bait that stimulates the most immediate, complete and reliable consumption put down where rats feel most secure in their feeding.”Grain baits are by far the best in most farm situations,” he explains. “But, since we know proprietary boxes reduce rat bait takes markedly, I always recommend bait stations made out of local materials. They must be secure enough to prevent access by livestock, pets and wildlife. But this isn’t difficult to do.”In my experience the best and safest place to put bait is directly into active burrows. Inside their front door is about the best location for food you want rats to consume in preference to other local sources. And the very presence of rats makes it one of the least attractive places for foraging field mice and voles.”However, burrow baiting has to be done correctly to minimise risks to non-target species. In particular, only bait active burrows. You can easily identify these simply by blocking all the entrances and seeing which are re-opened. Then place the bait as deep within the holes as possible. Don’t block them up or rats could spread the bait outside as they dig their way out. And do visit first thing every morning ideally to check for and clear any spillages, topping up the bait, as necessary.”Little and often will always be the best burrow-baiting approach,” he recommends. “Surplus bait in both burrows and bait stations must, of course, be diligently cleared-up after every treatment – together with any rat carcases – for the greatest wildlife protection.”While resistance to some second generation anti-coagulant rodenticides creates problems in some areas, Adrian Meyer is adamant that the vast majority of UK farms will still be able to achieve excellent rat control with most providing they follow the label and his farm hygiene-led recipe for success.
High performance bait cuts rodent challenges
Farms across the UK can cut their most common rat and mouse challenges markedly by better rodenticide choice, reveals the latest national farm rodent control study.Involving almost 400 livestock and arable farms across the country together responsible for over 50,000ha (125,000 acres), the independently-organised study highlights more frequent infestations, longer baiting periods, bigger infestations and poor control despite good bait consumption as the most significant rodent control challenges.In each case, noticeably fewer users of the advanced Fortec foraging grain bait, Neosorexa Gold reported these issues than those using other brands of grain bait.
At the same time, farms employing Neosorexa Gold used almost 2kg less bait on average last year than those using other grain baits, further underlining its superior value, says BASF.”This is just as well as almost half of farms saw increasing rodent problems last autumn and a good 40 per cent of these were rated as sharp,” points out BASF pest control solutions specialist, Gavin Wood. “Over a third of dairy and arable farms and nearly half of pig and poultry units had to use a rodenticide in August. And by September this had risen to around two thirds in each case.”With the most effective bait choice crucial in responding to this challenge, it’s encouraging to find over 40 per cent of farms employing our Fortec enhanced bait with its better speed and reliability of control.”Unfortunately, the majority of farms are still only starting treatment when rats and mice become obvious and confining it to areas where they are actually seen,” he notes. “Yet, as well as using the best bait, our research and experience shows that the most effective and economical way of dealing with infestations is to tackle them at the first signs of activity and extend baiting to every area of the farm where activity can be identified.