Don't for a minute think if there's no livestock on your farm, rats and mice aren't a problem for you.
They can damage structures, ruin wiring, cause fires, spread disease and can prey on baby animals. And, the general rule of thumb is that there are approximately 25 mice or rats for every one that is seen.
Unfortunately, there is no "silver bullet" for keeping rodents out of equipment during the winter. But you can have a strategy to reduce populations. Here are some top tips for keeping the vermin away.
Deny food and shelter to varmints so your farm doesn't look so attractive. Try to keep stacked lumber and building supplies a foot off the ground, and never stack wood next to the building. Store feed in metal or plastic containers and always clean up spills. Rats and mice follow natural runways. Finding these areas is critical for trap placement.
Select attractive bait. Rodents go for fish, oatmeal, bacon and sweets. Obviously selecting a trap location that is inaccessible to children, livestock, pets and non-target species is important.
Introduce a natural predator. How about a good old-fashioned barn cat? Cats are natural mousers and if you have a good one it should be able to feed itself exclusively on varmints, sharpening the animals' hunting skills and making them more effective rodent killers. Not to mention, it cuts out the cost of cat food! Snakes, hawks and owls are also natural rodent predators.
Continuous vigilance. Of course if you have succeeded in cutting down populations, continuous and on-going vigilance is the key to controlling this constant problem – never let down your guard. Rodents reproduce exponentially. On U.S. farms, losses from vermin are measured in hundreds of millions of dollars each year.
There was a thread on social media discussing the advantages of leaving your combine door open while in winter storage. The thinking was if the cat can get in the mice won't. Bring that up at your next farm meeting and comment below – let me know what the general consensus was! (I'll say, it's probably not happening on this farm!)