If you want to use professional rodenticide products on your farm, you are now required to have approved certification. Here’s the lowdown on the new rules.
Rats are a big problem
Pig units often provide ideal conditions for rat populations to thrive. They can cause major headaches for pig farmers - because rats are a problem that cost time, money and energy to fix.
Loss of pig feed
200 rats can chomp through 1,000kg of pig feed in a year. You have enough hungry mouths to feed, without catering for an infestation of rats too.
They carry infectious diseases
Rats can carry infectious diseases from farm-to-farm. Dysentery is a major threat to the health of your pigs, while your staff are at risk of contracting leptospirosis (Weil’s disease) - either from contact with rat urine or through pigs who have become carriers for the disease.
They cause costly damage
Rats can cause structural damage to your buildings, infrastructure and machinery. It’s thought that more than 20% of farm fires are caused by rodents gnawing through electrical cables. And estimates suggest that rodent damage costs UK farmers between £16 and £25 million every year.
They multiply quickly
Rats breed quickly. Females can produce five litters per year and the gestation period is just 21 days. It’s crucial to get any rat infestation under control as quickly as possible.
Changes in rodenticide use
Clearly it’s important to control rat infestations on your pig farm. But it’s no longer possible to rely on the gratuitous use of rodenticides to control outbreaks. New rules under the UK Rodenticide Stewardship Regime mean that rodenticide must now be used only as a last resort.
Manufacturers of professional anticoagulant rodenticide are now legally obliged to add special messaging to their product labels. This messaging states that the purchaser must have approved certification in rodent pest control. No proof, no purchase.
It’s thought that by June 2016 the old, unlabelled stock will have made its way through the supply chain and will no longer be available. In short: if you don’t have approved certification soon, you will need to complete a training course or hire a professional pest controller to access industrial rodenticides.
What's the reason for the changes?
The new rules have been developed by the Campaign for Responsible Rodenticide Use (CRRU) following a new EU directive. The changes are designed to minimise the impact of rodenticide on wildlife. Currently there’s a problem with non-target animals such as field mice and voles feeding from bait stations. In turn this is threatening the welfare of creatures higher in the food chain - such as barn owls, kestrels and red kites.
Preventing rat infestations without rodenticide
Preventing rat infestations on your farm is all about environmental management and good biosecurity. Make your farm less welcoming to unwanted guests and they are less likely to take up residence.
Clean and tidy boundaries
Rats prefer good cover and don’t like venturing across open ground. Ensure boundary areas are clear and tidy. Remove rubbish and weeds. Make sure hedgerows are well maintained.
Secure shed perimeters
Cracks, nooks and crannies in the walls of your shed provide an open door to chilly rats looking for somewhere warm to settle. Ensure your shed is secure, all the way around.
Remove food and water sources
Rats love easy access to food and water. Make sure all food stores are covered and never leave spilt feed lying around on the ground.
Collect spent bait and rat carcases
During any baiting programme, remove rat carcases as quickly as possible. Once the infestation has been controlled, collect the remnants of spent bait.
Monitor new activity
A new rat infestation can occur at any time. Stay vigilant and watch out for signs of new rat activity. If you are using non-toxic bait stations (see below) to monitor new activity, remember that rats do not like changes to their environment. It will likely take around ten days for them to gain the confidence to explore a new bait station.
When is it okay to use rodenticide?
By no means are rodenticides banned. They are still an important tool in the fight to prevent rat infestations. Guidelines state that non-toxic baits can be used as an early warning system for new rat activity. If non-toxic bait is being taken and an inspection for droppings rules out mice, voles or other non-targets, the bait can be replaced temporarily with a rodenticide and used in conjunction with chemical-free measures such as trapping. However the CRRU’s code of best practice states that the use of a rodenticide should only be used as a last resort when there are clear and sustained threats to human or animal health.
For further information please contact your veterinary surgeon or Zoetis UK Ltd., Walton Oaks, Dorking Road, Walton on the Hill, Tadworth, Surrey KT20 7NS. Customer Support 0845 3008034. www.zoetis.co.uk Always seek the advice of your medicines provider. Use medicines responsibly (www.noah.co.uk/responsible).