October 15, 2003
Control of Rodents to Ensure Animal Health & Safety
Rodent infestations in swine facilities can threaten animal health and safety and decrease productivity. Hence, a solid, ongoing rodent control program that is able to prevent transmission of swine diseases, protect operations and maintain profitability is highly essential.
Rats and mice can carry diseases that could cause illness, production losses or even death. Diseases they spread include trichinosis, toxoplasmosis, bordetellosis, swine erysipelas, pseudorabies and salmonellosis swine dysentery. Encephalomyocarditis, leptospirosis and pneumonic pasteurellosis could be possibly spread too. An outbreak of any of these diseases can increase production costs and decrease herd health.
Rodents can spread disease throughout and between buildings via their droppings, urine, saliva, blood, feet and fur. One of the most common ways rodents transmit swine diseases is through contamination of the feed or water supply. Rodents can contaminate 10 times the amount of grain they consume, leaving droppings, urine and even carcasses in livestock feed.
Rodents also gnaw on wood, concrete, metal and electrical wires, posing a fire hazard. They can even cause physical harm by gnawing on pigs' ears.
Control of rodents could be done through implementation of an integrated pest management program. Producers should remove and seal up rodents' habitats and hiding spaces. Although it might be nearly impossible to control rodents' access to feed and water, be sure to clean up spilled grain, since even small amounts of spillage can maintain fairly moderate rodent populations.
Rodent-proof buildings are constructed to a 3-4 foot-wide strip of 1-inch diameter dimension. Closely mown grass surrounds the zone with a 100-foot buffer zone. This distance should be enough to deter rodents, who travel only a small area in a day.
The use of rodenticides, keeping them fresh and secure inside clearly marked, stabilized bait boxes is important. It is also vital to rotate the rodenticides every 3-4 weeks for freshness and advisable to rotate among the three classes of rodenticides throughout the year to avoid rodents developing resistance to the treatments.