Rat control needs to be an essential part of forage-making this season to prevent silage clamps, big bale stacks and hay barns becoming the reservoirs for serious trouble over the coming autumn and winter, advises regional rural hygiene specialist, Charlie Ives of BASF Pest Control Solutions.
“Forage stores are ideal nesting sites for farm rats,” he explains. They’re warm and weatherproof. They provide secure and relatively undisturbed accommodation right through to the early winter. And they are almost always conveniently sited close to stock feeding facilities.
“Leaving them unprotected from filling through to feeding out is a recipe for major rat problems over the coming winter. Especially so, as six to eight young can be produced by each female every six to eight weeks, leading populations to build to levels likely to pose serious problems for most robust winter baiting programmes.
“It’s all too easy to miss the warning signs too. “Cattle and sheep producers don’t tend to spend nearly as much time in their farm buildings over the grazing season as they do in the winter months, and plenty of external food means rats don’t need to forage so obviously around them either.”
Under these circumstances, Charlie Ives insists that early action is vital, pointing out that a small amount of effort at forage-making is likely to be worth its weight in gold in saving time, trouble and expense later on.
Specifically, he recommends baiting around the edges of silage and hay stores before they are cleared out in preparation for the new crop; installing baiting points as part of clamp or stack filling; and the early use of specialist rat packs within them.
“It’s all a matter of understanding how rats behave,” he says. “Because they are so wary of change, it’s always advisable to undertake a final round of high palatability Neosorexa Gold baiting before forage stores are finally cleared or stacks of tyres prepared for the next season’s use. That way you maximise uptake and control before the rats migrate into nearby hedges and ditches.
“The same wariness of change makes it important to install baiting points around your main forage stores as soon as they are filled. This will significantly increase the initial uptake of even the most palatable baits by getting the rats used to the containers in which they have to be placed to minimise the risk to pets and other non-target species.
“As well as siting baiting points carefully alongside walls, in recesses and against the edges of stacks where rats prefer to travel, in my experience it also pays to bait these fairly immediately,” Charlie Ives adds.
“I’d use specialist Neosorexa Gold rat packs so the bait stays protected from the weather and fresh to be consumed as soon as rats begin to take up residence. I’d also place these strategically within big bale stacks to intercept arriving rodents attracted by their particular combination of warmth, darkness and security.
“Do check your main baiting points every two or three weeks,” he suggests. “Active consumption is a sure sign that rats are about and if they are baits may need to be topped-up to ensure every individual consumes a lethal dose. Rat packs make this particularly easy and convenient to do when relatively small amounts of bait are required, as is often the case outside the main winter control season.”
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