Farms undertaking comprehensive rodenticide treatment have experienced noticeably fewer rat problems over the past year than those continuing to tackle infestations on a conventional fire-brigade basis, according to the latest annual farm rodent control study undertaken by rural hygiene leaders, BASF Pest Control Solutions.
Involving responses from a record of just under three hundred farms extending to nearly 78,000 acres across more than 50 counties of the UK, the annual survey shows 58% experienced significant or major rat problems in the 12 months to last November.
Of those regularly treating for rodents at key times of the year and widely across their farmsteads, however, only 49% reported such rat problems. This contrasts with fully 62% of those only baiting when and where infestations were obvious.
“This underlines the value of nipping rodent infestations in the bud by planned treatment at specific times of the season,” points out study co-ordinator, Shirley Wilson of BASF. “While rats and mice may not be obvious they’re invariably present. And, they’re far easier to control before populations grow to the extent to which they’re forced to forage more widely in daylight hours. Early control will also mean you need less rodenticide and, more importantly, suffer less damage and contamination to stored feed and grain.
“At the same time, our study highlights the importance of baiting wherever inspection shows signs of rodent activity rather than just where rats and mice are seen. That way you eliminate the entire farm population so you don’t leave attractive food sources open to rapid re-infestation from immediately surrounding areas.”
Encouragingly, the latest BASF results reveal that more than 60% of farms are now baiting at key times of the year rather than only when rats and mice become obvious. And over 40% are extending their baiting widely across the farmstead instead of just treating the areas in which rats and mice are actually seen. Altogether, just over a third of farms are combining these two approaches in a comprehensive treatment strategy while a third are continuing to take the fire-brigade approach and a further third something in-between.
Leading the way in more comprehensive rodent treatment are arable and pig & poultry producers, while those with beef & sheep or dairy enterprises appear more wedded to traditional strategies (Figure 1).
Figure 1: When and where do you use rat and mouse baits?
“It’s good to see so many farms appreciating the need for comprehensive rodenticide treatment,” comments Shirley Wilson. “And it’s equally encouraging to find the majority using a top quality bait like our advanced formulation, Neosorexa Gold.
“However, around 80% are still failing to employ the three most critical components of best baiting practice – siting baiting points following survey, using more than enough of them and keeping them topped-up with rodenticide at least every five days. So there clearly remains considerable room for improvement in farm rodent control.
“Almost 50% of holdings reported a year-on-year rise in rodent problems over the past autumn, despite its extraordinary mildness, with just under half of these rating the increase as sharp,” she adds. “This means tip-top control practice will be particularly important over the rest of the winter, regardless of the weather.”
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