Rat & Mouse Control In Barns
Your customers will all agree that mice are among the most deceptive creatures on Earth. In particular, they are actually quite troublesome and dangerous to allow in barns and around livestock.
Rats are also a similar concern, too. Both they and mice can also infest horse stables, chicken coops and other farm structures, and every effort should be made by your customers to eradicate them.
3 Problems Caused by Barn Mice & Rats
Once mice and rats discover a barn or other farm building, they create a number of problems, including:
- Problem 1: Contamination – Barn mice, even in smallest numbers, contaminate hay needed for livestock. Even just two mice active in a barn for six months can devour as much as four pounds of grain and leave up to 18,000 droppings. Rat and mouse droppings are damaging because they contaminate feed, water and other supplies.
Problem 2: Destruction – Rats and mice cause serious damage with their need to chew. They may inadvertently damage walls, doors, floors and insulation.
These rodents may also gnaw at exposed power cords and wiring. That behavior puts internal wiring, electric tools and vehicles at risk for malfunctions, blackouts and fires.
- Problem 3: Infection – Mice and rats are also notorious for spreading bacteria, causing infections and transmitting diseases. Diseases mice are capable of transmitting to humans include hantavirus, roundworms, rickettsialpox, salmonellosis and tapeworm.
4 Safety Tips to Avoid Mice Germs & Diseases
Here are some safety tips your customers should keep in mind. Following these tips will help ensure diseases and other bacteria aren’t spread as they work to eradicate the infestation:
- Safety Tip 1: Disinfect areas where mice and rats have been – Don rubber gloves and wipe all the walls, surfaces and objects in that area with a disinfectant solution of 10 percent bleach and 90 percent water.
- Safety Tip 2: Don't sweep infected areas – Don't use brooms or vacuums in areas where these rodents have defecated, ate or nested. Humans contract rodent diseases via aerosolized particles, so it's dangerous to kick mice germs into the air.
Safety Tip 3: Avoid physical contact with mice and rats – Never make bare-handed physical contact with a mouse or rat, whether it's alive or dead. Many rodents carry parasites that can spread bacteria and disease to you and your livestock. If the parasite’s host is dead, the parasite may seek out another host if it gets the opportunity.
To remove a dead mouse or rat, put on rubber gloves and double-bag the remains in two sealable bags. Then, place the packaged rodent in a tightly sealed trashcan. Wash the rubber gloves in the bleach and water disinfectant before removing them. After that, remove and throw away the gloves and wash hands thoroughly with hot water and soap.
- Safety Tip 4: Keep farm animals safe – Regularly de-worm farm animals, as well as any household pets, that visit or use the barn or other location where mice and rats have been. Furthermore, keep grains and animal food stored in sealed, chew-proof containers.
5 Steps to Get Rid of Mice & Rats in a Barn
Keeping a barn “clean” is understandably difficult, but it is easy to handle the problem of barn mice in five straightforward steps.
- Step 2: Reduce barn openings – Barns are simple structures that often include areas open to the outside. Keep rodents from entering by making sure doors and gates seal completely and by patching holes and gaps in the structure.
- Step 3: Eliminate attractants – Remove opportunities for nesting sites, namely by eliminating areas that go undisturbed for long periods of time. Focus on making the structure less inviting to rodents.
- Step 4: Provide Light – Fully illuminate the barn or coop since most rodents prefer to go about their activities in the dark.
- Step 5: Exterminate barn rodents — The most effective way to keep a barn free of rodents is to make the structure unbearable or even deadly for the critters. Use the Victor® Ultra PestChaser®, which emits a range of ultrasonic frequencies only mice and rats can hear.
The Ultra and PestChaser® PRO devices are easy to set up and activate and do not use chemicals. The PestChaser® line works by emitting a high-frequency noise that effectively repels rodents by making it uncomfortable for them to remain.
Customers can also try the classic Victor® Metal Pedal Mouse Trap, which is available in large quantities and can be set up around a barn.
Areas to Place Mouse Traps & Rat Traps in Barns
For maximum effect, your customers should strategically place traps and bait at locations where mice and rats travel or congregate. The zones generally favored by these rodents include:
- Near the path that leads from a rodent's nesting grounds to its food source
- Along walls and at the openings of burrows
- Along the juncture between walls and floors, especially at the corners
Mice and rats naturally prefer to perform most of their activities in the cover of darkness and sleep in the day. In a barn, this tendency compels them to locate their nests in dark places, including in haystacks, under grain piles, beneath floorboards and inside of anything that shuts out daylight while they rest.
How to Spot Mice & Rat Droppings in Barns
Mice and rats are rarely active in the light of day. Therefore, if an infestation occurs in a livestock barn or poultry coop, it's important to recognize the evidence. The primary indicator of rodent activity is the discovery of rodent feces inside your barn. Since each individual rodent produces dozens of droppings each day, this sign rodent activity is usually easy to detect. You can identify rodent droppings by noting their shape and size:
- Barn mice – 1/4 in, pointy on at least one side
- Norway rat – 3/4 in, rectangular shape with blunt ends, found clustered
- Roof rat – 1/2 in, sausage-shaped with pointed ends, found scattered
Judging by the appearance, droppings serve as indicators of when rodents were last present. For the first 48 hours, droppings appear dark and soft, after which they become light, dry and harder looking.
However, droppings aren't the only problem when it comes to rodent defecation: Their bodily waste can spread diseases such as brucellosis, cryptosporidiosis, leptospirosis, and toxoplasmosis to people and farm animals.
5 Tips to Rid a Chicken Coop of Mice & Rats
When it comes to rodent infestation, chicken coops and poultry barns are among the most vulnerable of farming outbuildings. Rats, as burrowing rodents, are more likely to invade coops during fall and winter due to diminished food outside. Mice, which are generally indoor creatures, are liable to raid the chicken coops year-round.
Rats, in particular, pose a danger to chickens. While infesting a coop, rats are capable of killing fowl of all ages. Young chicks are an especially vulnerable target. Within a matter of days, a pack of rats can wipe out hundreds of newly hatched chicks. With the following steps, you can help protect your chickens or other birds from these rat and mice invasions:
- Tip 1: Keep the coop clean – Rats and mice are less likely to come near a coop if the surrounding area is neat and clean. Keep the nearby grass trimmed on a regular basis and clear away foliage, stick piles or lumber that might otherwise accumulate in proximity to the coop. Don't stack feed sacks around the coop, either. Ensure partially consumed bags are stored in sealed containers away from the coop and properly dispose of any empty sacks and other refuse.
- Tip 2: Set up barriers – Despite the ability of rats and mice to squeeze through coin-sized slots, you can minimize their ability to enter a coop by reinforcing the floors, fencing and doorways. In elevated coops, the connecting points between floors and walls are particularly vulnerable. Focus on the corners and add a little reinforcement to deter them. Line these areas around the outside of the coop with mesh cloth or sheet metal. This will make it virtually impossible for rats or mice to chew their way inside.
- Tip 3: Store feed in tight containers – Rodents scavenge throughout the night for food. Therefore, unused chicken feed needs to be kept in tight, metal containers. Tightly lidded galvanized metal trash cans are effective at keeping feed inaccessible to rodents.
- Tip 4: Monitor Water – Like any animal, these rodents need water, especially during hot months. You should never leave water bowls in a poultry barn overnight. It’s unlikely birds will drink during this time, after all, and doing so will only provide water for any rodents and other pests.
- Tip 5: Kill mice and rats – Victor® snap traps are available in a variety of designs that can be placed around the outside of coops at the spots where mice and rats are most likely to attempt entry. For mice, the best option is Tri-Kill™ traps. For a rat infestation, the high-voltage shock of the Rat Zapper Ultra will kill up to 60 of the rodents on a single set of batteries.
How to Get Rid of Mice & Rats Without Poison
For obvious reasons, it's unwise to use poisonous products against rodents in barns, horse stalls and chicken coops. Unfortunately, you can find numerous articles that advocate the use of rodent poisons to handle an infestation with little regard to the safety of pets and livestock.
For these reasons and more, Victor® advises the use the hassle-free rat traps and mouse traps. These traps are safe to use when used as directed. Alternately, we also sell a variety of environmentally friendly scent repellents and rodenticides that provide an effective yet more humane method to eliminate your rodent problem.