As winter approaches, mice and rats are looking for new homes
As winter approaches the Ozarks, rodents everywhere will begin looking for warm places that are well stocked with food to spend the winter. Barns, livestock shelters, equipment and farmhouses fit the bill.
Mice and rats can create extensive property damage if left unchecked, and harbor several diseases transmitted to humans and other animals. Implementing a pest control and management plan now can save producers some grief come winter.
While cleaning up is not the most fun chore on the farm, making an effort to reduce clutter, organize equipment, throw away trash and recycle appropriate items will reduce the number of places that rats and mice can live. Whether it be pesticide, traps or barn cats, control measures will not be effective if hoards of rodents can take shelter in barns and outbuildings. Cleaning those areas will reduce the number of rodents able to live there and make other measures far more effective.
Proof Barns and Other Buildings
Many producers will weatherproof barns, toolsheds and livestock shelters before winter anyway, but it pays to take a little more care and check for rodent sized traffic ways. Sealing holes and gaps, and cleaning and removing trash, will make barns less attractive for mice and rats to venture into in the first place.
Reduce Spilled Feed
While a bit of spilled feed here and there might not seem like something that would have far-reaching consequences, it doesn’t take much for a mouse or rat to find it and utilize it as a food source. That draws other rodents, and then they breed, creating larger problems. Cleaning up feed as soon as it is spilled, putting feed in bins or tubs instead of storing it in paper bags, and pest-proofing bulk feed bins will make it harder for rodents to find a consistent food source on the farm.
Physical Control Methods
If a producer’s rodent issues are limited to small numbers of mice and rats, traps and non-toxic baits can be enough to control the problem. Popular traps are traditional snap traps (be cautious of the location if young children, barn cats or farm dogs frequent the area), sticky traps or homemade bucket traps, where rodents fall into a bucket with a small amount of water in the bottom. Producers will want to check traps regularly and dispose of any caught rodents for cleanliness and sanitation.
Biological Control Methods
If a producer is dealing with an infestation of rodents, a biological control method such as rodenticide may be required to get the situation under control. Some rodenticides can be harmful to pets, wildlife and humans, so producers should visit their local Extension office to learn which active ingredients are safe to use for their situation.
Attract Natural Predators
By implementing land management strategies that attract predators such as owls, hawks and foxes, producers can create a long-term pest control strategy that saves money down the line.
Acquiring a barn cat or two is also a standard natural method of pest control.