Winter Rodent Control

14th December 2018

Winter is a time when rodents such as rats and mice tend to look for inside accommodation. One of the primary reasons being the lack of natural food supplies in the field, causing them to move into dry barns and sheds where there is a steady supply of nutrients.

Studies have shown that rats will contaminate up to 10x the amount of food that they consume, and 100 rats will digest their way through the same amount of food that a horse will eat in a year! Contamination can include diseases such as Leptospirosis, which, being zoonotic, can be transmitted to horses. Other diseases include Salmonellosis, mites, ticks and fleas. Furthermore, the health hazard to humans can be considerable.

Rats need to live near water and nesting sites are usually within 50m from where they will forage. Mice, on the other hand, have smaller areas and don’t normally need to drink as they obtain the moisture they need from what they eat.

It goes without saying, that it is very unlikely that a farm or stables would be totally free of rodents, but simple house keeping rules will help to control populations and divert them away to other areas. Feed should be stored in feed bins, and the feed room floor should be kept clean of spilled food. Unused stables should be cleaned out of old bedding and the yard free of weeds and other hiding places. In the ideal world, bulk hay should be stored away from the stables and feed room, as the seeds in hay are very attractive to rodents and the bales can make good hiding places.

Another danger from rodents is their tendency to chew wires and pipes, data shows that between 1999 and 2009 8% of fires are caused from rodent damage. Making them a significant factor economically.

Therefore, control is essential in stable management. Options are trapping and baiting or a combination of both. Traps can be tricky to set in the correct places and dead animals must be removed. Poison is effective when used correctly, regulation to protect non-target species are in place and must be observed. Take a course yourself and qualify, Farm & Stable Supplies offers the LANTRA course at a cost that is affordable.