Starting treatment too late, under-dosing and failing to check
baiting points frequently enough are common mistakes being made
by farmers this winter, according to Nic Blaszkowicz of rodenticide
manufacturer PelGar International, after analysing the results
of a telephone survey of 200 UK dairy farmers carried out in January.
With rat sightings spiralling after last year’s mild winter
and wet summer, many are struggling to get on top of the problem – and
these could be the reasons why.
Despite rats being a recurrent and growing problem on many farms,
40% of those questioned only started baiting once they saw rats
running about the farm. A small proportion left it until their
property was completely overrun before doing anything about it.
“Unfortunately rats are an inevitable part of farm life,
but taking a couple of hours to tidy up and survey the site before
a problem escalates can save hours of time, and reduce damage and
contamination,” Mr Blaszkowicz advises.
Two thirds of the farmers questioned bought between 20 and 50kg
of rodenticide during the year – the average amount needed
to achieve rodent control on a medium sized farm. However, the
majority bought less than 10kg of bait at a time – suggesting
the amount of bait put down at any one time was probably insufficient
to get on top of the existing rat population in one go.
“It is hard to judge the level of infestation without a full
site survey. Although five to ten rats may be seen, there could
be 100 or more living in the area – and numbers will rise
once they start breeding in the milder spring weather.
“Putting down enough bait at the start, and using the right
number of baiting points will increase the likelihood of achieving
quicker and better control. Once the initial baiting is complete,
one or two follow-up treatments will probably be needed to catch
any ‘tail enders’.”
The other vital component of a rodent control campaign is to make
sure bait stations are topped up frequently.
In the survey, more than a third said they leave it for more than
a week before checking for bait take.
“In most cases this is too long,” says Mr Blaszkowicz. “Bait
points need to be serviced as often as possible – at least
every two to three days, but preferably every day during the early
stages of a campaign.”
On the whole, most of the farmers were satisfied with the level
of control they achieve – although there is generally wide
variation in what levels are deemed to be satisfactory.
“Expectations of what can be achieved differ – some
farmers can put up with occasional sightings of rats, while others
operate on a zero tolerance basis,” says Mr Blaszkowicz. “Rodenticides
like Roban and Rodex are very effective, particularly when they
are used in a well planned and focussed baiting campaign.
“We want to help farmers achieve even better levels of control
by baiting properly. This survey has highlighted key areas where
we can offer help and guidance. Detailed advice is also available
in our booklet “Successful Rat and Mouse Control – The
PelGar Guide’ and on our website www.getthatrat.com.
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