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How To Monitor Rodents on Pig Farms

John Seo |

An uncontrolled rodent problem on a pig farm can cause substantial economic damage if not addressed adequately. Monitoring the situation and then carefully dealing with it is essential. Otherwise, you'll face an uphill battle that can take weeks or even months to win.

Why Is It Necessary to Monitor Rodent Activity on Pig Farms?

For several reasons, keeping on top of rodent activity on a pig farm is vital. Firstly, they can spread disease to both the swine and humans further down the food chain, including Weil’s disease, salmonellosis, or antibiotic-resistant bacterial strains such as livestock-associated MRSA.

For creatures so small, rodents can cause a surprising amount of damage. Food stores, wooden posts, floorboards, electrical wiring - even walls - you name it, rodents can chew through it. This can lead to structural damage but can also be costly if you constantly restock feed. Rodent activity in and around the swine can also reduce the pigs' efficiency, which can significantly impact your bottom line.

How Do You Detect Rodent Activity in Pig Farms?

Sometimes it can be straightforward to detect rodent activity, while you need to do some detective work other times. Here's what to look for. 

Rodent droppings 

An infestation of 100 rats means around 1 tonne of droppings, which is why these little black pellets are among the surest way of knowing when you have a full-blown problem.

Gnaw marks

If you think your food stocks are going down too quickly, rodents may have gnawed their way into the bag or container. Rats leave slightly bigger gnaw marks than mice, but if you look closely at both, you can make out the teeth marks. 

Nesting material & Burrows

Searching for nesting material is one way of determining whether you have the odd stray rodent passing through or if the entire extended family has moved in. Nests are usually found in sheltered locations, such as behind walls or ceilings, often made of paper or other fibrous material. 

Both mice and rats dig burrows, which can be a tell-tale sign of their presence. Burrows are often just a few centimetres below the earth, but rodents will also create burrows through walls and other more solid objects to act as pathways.

6 Methods to Monitor Rodents on Pig Farms

1. Check for Signs of Rodent Activity

Monitoring rodents on a pig farm starts with the confirmation that they are actually there and in what quantity. Mice and rats are nocturnal animals, so early evening is often a good time to look for physical sightings. Otherwise, check throughout the pig farm early in the morning for the signs mentioned above.

2. A Good Clean

Sanitation is rarely enough on its own to deal with a significant rodent outbreak, but it is nonetheless an excellent place to start. Poor sanitation allows rodents to thrive, so scrub down the building in question well, ensure that all food stock is stored securely, and try to remove any potential shelters that could become a potential nesting ground. 

Not only is this good practice that will hopefully, in the long run, keep rodent outbreaks at bay, but it also provides an excellent clean slate from which to monitor the rodent situation carefully. 

3. Monitor Over a Few Days

Before you start implementing rodent control solutions, you need to know what you're up against. Once you've cleaned carefully, monitor the area over the next few days and take note of rodent signs. If you find droppings all over the floor the day after cleaning, you know you have a real job on your hands. 

4. Identify 

It also helps to identify what kind of rodent you're working against, which may impact your next step. Rats are bigger animals, while mice generally have smaller, slender bodies. Rats also have bigger droppings, usually 1/2 - 3/4 of an inch long, while mice droppings are much smaller. Rats leave much more defined bite marks when chewing, while mice gnaw marks are often smaller and scratchier.

5. Choose Your Poison 

For a significant outbreak, you'll probably want to use something like Sapphire Grain, a wheat-based bait that has excellent results with both mice and rats and place it inside several bait boxes placed throughout the buildings. Plenty of well-placed mice traps might be fine if you think it's a relatively minor mouse problem.

6. Continual Monitoring of Traps

Once the bait or traps are in place, it's a question of monitoring the traps, removing dead rodents when they appear, and maintaining close observation each evening or morning to determine whether they're doing the trick. In an ideal world, your chosen method works the first time, but if you find that numbers are staying steady or even increasing, it may be a question of increasing the number of bait boxes or traps.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is the Best Way to Monitor Rodents?

Carefully cleaning an area and monitoring it over four or five days is the best way to understand how bad your rodent problem is. Check for droppings, gnaw marks, and nesting areas daily; you should be able to tell whether numbers are going up or down.

Final Thoughts

There's no simple or easy way to monitor rodents on a pig farm. It's a case of taking your time, carefully cleaning an area, monitoring the situation daily and checking for rodent activity. After a few days, you should have a good idea of what you're up against, and from there, you can head to Dalton Engineering and find the best rodent control methods to suit your situation. Whether it's a full-scale invasion or a few interlopers, we've got everything needed to bring your rodent problem to a satisfactory and speedy conclusion.