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Rodents as much of a problem for farmers as predators

By Leslie Ballentine, Farming and food commentator

Just as livestock munching predators, such as coyotes and bears, pose a serious threat to livestock, farmers are under attack by much smaller animals too:  Rats and mice. I recently read a report by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs which estimates that a colony of 100 rats will eat more than a tonne of feed in a year. That much feed costs farmers about $285, or enough to feed four pigs to market weight.  And the Ministry factsheet says one pair of rats and their offspring can produce 20 million (yes million) young in three years, mice reproduce even faster. 

Not even a herd of barn cats can keep up with that!

Wild rodents like a warm, dry place to live and plentiful food so farms are a natural haven.  The Ministry says that more than 80 per cent of poultry and hog farms report having rodent problems- especially in the winter months when rodents move indoors, just as they do in my own house.

Besides devouring grain and feed, rats ruin up to 10 times more grain than they eat, contaminating it with feces, urine and hair. Not to mention that rodents are recognized as carriers of more than 40 serious human and animal diseases, they also pose a fire hazard with their habit of chewing on electrical wires. So, all told the Ministry calculates that each rat on a farm eats, spoils or damages about $25 worth of grain per year. That adds up to a lot of waste.

Most farmers I know take a combined approach to rodent control just as homeowners are advised to do. The first step is to try to keep them out. For farmers, that means rodent proofing farm buildings and feed bins, reducing hiding places and, when all else fails, reducing the population with traps and baits.

Just as with predators, we have to live with them. But that doesn’t mean they can’t and shouldn’t be controlled.

Until the next BLOG.


Posted by OFAC on March 2nd, 2011 :: Filed under Animal health,Education and public awareness,Farm life,Food safety
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One Response to “Rodents as much of a problem for farmers as predators”

  1. rat removal
    March 2nd, 2011

    This method of rat control uses a baited trap with a spring-loaded lever that clamps the jaws of the trap shut when the bait is taken. These traps kill the rat immediately without subjecting the rat to undue suffering or prolonged agony in the trap

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