Sunday, June 22, 2014

Rodents part 1: About rodents and how to recognize that they are around your farm

The most common rodents around livestock and farms are the house mouse (Mus musculus), the Norway rate (Rattus norvegicus), and roof rat (Rattus rattus).  They are difficult to eliminate from your property, even for pest control professionals.
Image taken from: “Controlling rodents in Commercial Poultry Facilities” Judy Loven and Ralph Williams, Purdue University Extension Article.
Why Control Rodents?
A) They carry diseases.  Mice and rats can carry up to 45 diseases transmitted to poultry and humans.  Some of these diseases include bordeltellosis, leptospirosis, erysipelas, salmonellosis, fowl pox, fowl cholera (pasteurellosis), trichinosis, toxoplasmosis, and rabies.  Rodents can also spread disease from a contaminated to non-contaminated area via their feet, fur, droppings, urine, saliva and blood.

B) Rodents can attract predators to your farm:  High numbers of rodents are a food source that can attract foxes, coyotes, raccoons, skunks, dogs, and cats that can contribute to disease problems.

C) They can damage buildings and insulation.  Rats and mice can chew through rubber, aluminum, cinder blocks, plastic, wood, improperly cured concrete and wool.  They can even start fires when chewing through electrical wires.

D) They consume and contaminate feed.  100 rats can consume over 1 ton of feed in a year, and contaminate the feed with droppings, urine, and hair.

Mouse and Rat Facts:
  1. They are nocturnal and highly reproductive- In ideal conditions, rats and their offspring and produce 20 million young in 3 years, and mice reproduce even faster.
  2. Rats can jump as high as 3 feet, and as far as 4 feet.
  3. Rodents can drop from heights of over 50 feet without being injured.
  4. Rats can swim half a mile in open water, and can tread water for three days.
  5. Mice and rats don’t like to go far from their nest.  Rats wander around a maximum of 148 ft from the nest, and mice 30 ft.
  6. Rats need water daily, while mice can live 2-4 days without water.
  7. Rodents prefer cereal grains, but will also eat garbage, insects, meat (they can antagonize your chickens and kill chicks), fruits and vegetables, and manure.
  8. Mice eat small portions and feed sporadically making as many as 20-30 short visits to food at night.  Rats tend to get their daily food at one or two locations.
  9. Rodents don’t like exposed spaces.  They often travel in contact with a wall or other objects, can climb rough walls, and travel along utility wires.
  10. Rats can squeeze through small spaces of a half inch, and mice through quarter inch spaces.
  11. Mice produce 40-100 droppings per night and rats about 20-50 droppings.
  12. Image taken from: “Controlling rodents in Commercial Poultry Facilities” Judy Loven and Ralph Williams, Purdue University Extension Article.

Signs of a rodent infestation:
Sounds: Gnawing, climbing noises in walls, squeeks
Droppings: Found along walls, behind objects, and newar food supplies.  Rat droppings are bean sizes, and mice droppings are rice sized.
Burrows:  Rat burrows – fresh digging around foundations, through floorboards into wall spaces.  In areas where the ground is soft, mice can also dig tunnels and burrow in the ground.
Runs:  Look for dust free areas along walls and behind storage material.
Gnawing marks:  Look for wood chips around boards, bins and crates.  Fesh gnawing marks will be pale in color.
Rodent Odors:  Persistent musky odors are a positive sign of infestation.
Rodent sightings:  Daylight sigting of mice is common.  Rats are seen in the daylight only if populations are high.  There are approximately 25 mice or rats for every one that is seen.

Next Blog
We will talk about how to control and prevent rodent populations!


Dr. Mark Bland DVM, MS, DACPV, Cutler Associates International

“Rodent Control: 7 ways to keep mice and rats out of the coop” Mike Wilhite

Animal Damage Management, Dept. of Entomology, “Controlling rodents in Commercial Poultry Facilities” Judy Loven and Ralph Williams, Purdue University, Publication ADM-3-W

Rodent Control in Livestock and Poultry facilities, G.A. Surgeoner

“What you need to know about rodent control” Weibe ban der Sluis

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Prevent Bringing Diseases Home to Your Birds

The best part about spring, summer, and fall is that farmers markets, bird swaps, and fairs are up and running again.  The bad part?  You can bring diseases home to your feathered friends from the birds you encounter or acquire at these fun places.

There are things you can do to help keep your birds healthy!

If you come in contact or are around other poultry:
1) Take a shower when you get home, and change your cloths/shoes before going around your birds. 
2) Wash your car in a car wash on your way home.  When you and your car visit places that have a lot of different birds, its not just you that carries disease. 
3) Better yet, keep designated clothes and shoes for when you work with your birds! 
Why?  You can carry diseases on your cloths, shoes, and car from birds/products that you visit or come in contact with.  Imagine a person that is sick, sneezes on their hand, and touches the doorknob someone is going to use after them.  Disease is transmitted via the doorknob.  You essentially become the doorknob between the sick bird and your birds, and you have the potential to carry disease home.  

What if you come home with a new addition?
1) Keep your new birds separated from the birds you already have for a month.  This is called a quarantine period.
2) Take care of the birds you already have first, then take care of your new birds second.
3) Wash your hands before and after working with each group of birds, not only for their safety, but for yours as well.
4) Have designated shoes for each group of birds.
Why?  If the new birds have a contagious disease, they will most likely show symptoms within the first month.   You can try to prevent spreading the disease to the birds you already have.