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Good Baiting Technique Needed to Get on Top of Rats this Winter
03/02/08

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.

rat

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.

Under-dosing
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’.”

Topping up
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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