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Stackyard News Jul 08

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Rat Problems Could Escalate This Summer

Last season’s upsurge in rat problems will carry over into even greater difficulties on livestock farms across the country in the coming winter if populations are not effectively controlled over the summer forage-making bridge, warns behaviour-led pest control leader, Sorex.


“Big bale silage and hay stores, in particular, are ideal bridges for rat populations to thrive over the summer months,” explains rodent control specialist, Martina Flynn.

“The fresh, warm and safe accommodation that fresh big bale and hay stacks provide is precisely the encouragement rats need to return from the fields and re-establish themselves firmly in farmsteads in the run-up to the autumn.

“This was particularly evident in last summer’s deluge which, combined with less than effective control the previous winter, led to an early build-up of populations in and around buildings.

And, in turn, to a winter our annual farm rodent control study confirmed was one of the most challenging for rat control in recent memory.

“Despite the relatively late spring, the legacy of last winter has almost certainly been far higher levels of rat breeding this summer,” she points out. “So any failure to keep on top of early farmstead infestations in and around forage stores is likely to really compound problems from this autumn.”

Stressing that restricted foraging means rats are invariably less obvious in mild weather, Martina Flynn advises everyone to be especially vigilant for signs of activity – including well-worn runs along the sides of buildings or stacks, droppings and gnawing damage – baiting effectively as soon as any are detected.

“The ready availability of other food sources makes it particularly important to employ a foraging grain bait proven to encourage the most rapid and complete consumption in the presence of competing foods,” she insists. “And the use of convenient, stay-fresh presentations such as our Neosorexa Gold Ratpacks allows secure baiting over an extended period within and around outside big bale silage stacks, in particular.

“To counter rats’ instinctive fear of new objects, I would always site baiting points strategically around the perimeter of silage and hay bale stacks from the outset so they can get used to them. These can then be filled with bait at the first signs of activity and topped-up regularly until consumption is reduced as control is achieved. Incorporating Ratpacks at regular intervals within big bale stacks as they are built is also advisable for the best control.”

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