Biosecurity – Fight Against Pests
A leading cause of contamination in any hog operation is often related to pests. Pest control covers a broad scope, including organic pest control, chemical, biological, electronic and hygiene control. Eliminating or controlling pests by any of these means is a great opportunity to protect your structures, feed and water quality, and the overall health of your animals. Below we identify the most common pests as well as some strategies to control them.
Mice and rats are common nuisance pests around the globe. Mice and rats are known carriers of a variety of illnesses, bacteria and diseases.
Diseases Spread by Rodents Include:
- Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome
- Hemorrhagic Fever with Renal Syndrome
- Lassa Fever
- Lujo Hemorrhagic Fever
- Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis (LCM)
An effective rodent control strategy will help prevent, not only, the spread of disease but will also lessen your risk of structure fire and contaminated food waste. These pests are known to be the cause of nearly 20% of the world’s fires and 20% of the world’s food contamination. Simple measures can help control or eliminate their populations within your facility.
- Eliminate the ability of mice and rats to get into your facility. Fill all exterior holes with steel wool and patch with caulk, stucco or other exterior rated measures.
- Place rodent control (baits or traps) in bait stations around the perimeter of your facility – Bait stations keep rodent baits secure and prevent non-target ingestion or contact with set traps. The number of bait stations will be determined by the area you wish to cover. Place a station every 50ft around the perimeter of the facility. If using traps, check and empty them frequently.
- Use a variety of bait options throughout the year. Using an inexpensive multiple feed rodent bait for the majority of the year is fine, however you will need to invest in a more aggressive measure at least once a year to eliminate mice that may become immune. Ideally in the fall when rodent pressures increase, upgrade your bait to a 2nd generation anticoagulant or a non-anticoagulant formula. This strategy is called bait rotation and it is extremely effective at keeping mice and rat populations at manageable numbers.
- Place rodent control measures where rodents are – around doorways and the perimeter of spaces. At each entry door, place your rodent control measures so as doors are opened and closed rodents that get in don’t get too far. Mechanical traps, glue boards and other options are ideal for placement near doorways.
- If rodent pressures are too high, contact a professional. Make sure your biosecurity requirements are communicated to the potential applicator prior to their arrival.
A variety of insects are also classified as pests in relationship to human and animal welfare. Flies, cockroaches, lice and mites to name a few, impact swine operations around the globe. The effective control of these pests is integral to animal welfare as well as the welfare of their human caregivers and neighbors.
Horse and deer flies in large populations can cause extreme annoyance, fatigue, blood loss, and reduce weight gain for your herd. They are difficult to control because they land on host animals to feed for a very short amount of time. Flies live for 15-30 days and multiply in great numbers. One female can lay over 500 eggs in her short lifetime. An effective control method must include extermination at all stages of their lifecycle.
These pests are notorious for their disease-causing microorganisms that can directly contaminate water and feed. A cockroach can live for a week without its head. They are not dependent on the mouth or head to breath, but only for water. Only a small percentage of the actual number of cockroaches in a space are ever seen as they are mainly active at night.
Using their needle-like mouth, they pierce the animal’s skin and suck their blood. The result is an itching sensation that causes the animal to seek relief by rubbing against feeders, posts or other stationary objects. The skin will become thick, cracked and sore.
This microscopic mite burrows beneath the skin of the animal, creating a slender winding tunnel nearly one inch long. Areas around the eyes, ears, back, and neck are most often affected. The skin becomes thick, rough, red, and bumpy. The hair stands erect, and scabs may appear.
Controlling insect populations equals keeping a keen eye on sanitation and preventing contaminated animals from joining your herd or providing treatment before they come into contact with your animals. A good time to stop lice and mange is when the sows are ready for farrowing, even though mange or lice symptoms may not be evident. If an outbreak of lice or mites is detected, treat the entire herd, even though certain animals may appear parasite-free.
- There are a number of products, called acaricides, available for purchase to prevent and treat mange mite infections. These pesticide sprays are effective means of controlling mites and lice weather permitting. In colder climates dusts and bedding treatments will be more effective.
- Cover the animal completely with the spray treatment, paying particular attention to the head, neck and ears
- Additional applications may be required 10-14 days post the initial treatment
Additional treatment options for the control of insects include aerosol sprays, bait stations, glue strips, fumigation and/or professional pest control experts. When using any pest control product you should follow all of the printed manufacturers instructions and wear adequate personal protective equipment.
While the remediation of pests may be as simple as putting out some rodent bait or adding a fly strip in your barn, the importance of hygiene and repetition cannot be overlooked. Simply putting it, a place that is clean doesn’t attract pests. Additionally, you should regularly evaluate the effectiveness of your current pest control management strategies. Are you getting results? Is your pest population increasing?
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Waste management is therefore the first line of defense. Removing and spreading fly breeding materials like bedding or hay and controlling manure solids weekly helps to break the cycle. Sanitizing pens, feeders, posts and other stationary objects can also help control the spread of bacteria caused by pests. Promptly remove and dispose of pests’ carcasses and keep trash in sealed containers. These simple preventative steps in conjunction with appropriate pest control measures will help to keep you and your animals healthy.