August, 2017 archive
Win the war against rats and mice with these three steps for effective use of rodenticides.
Cool temperatures are fast approaching meaning mice and rats will be looking for a warm place to live (your production facility). This article provides the basic information needed for an effective year-round biosecurity rodent control program. Due to the biosecurity risk rodents present 12 months out of the year, rodent control should be an area of focus every time the staff steps into a production facility. Selecting the right rodenticide rotation program is critical to prevent disease outbreaks, lower feed costs, reduce resistance, and to decrease building damage. Here are three steps to consider when building your program.
Step 1: Using the right rodenticide rotation. There are many rodenticide formats to choose from such as soft baits, blocks, pellets, and meal bait. Soft baits are the best option for the year-round knock down of rodents. Soft baits contain no wax to prevent baits from melting or freezing which maintains palatability. Additionally, more placements per pail result in lower cost per placements. Soft baits also provide flexibility to bait in hard to reach places, discussed in step 2. However, not every rodent will feed on any particular type of rodenticide so rotating the active ingredient every 2-6 months is critical. Switching the bait formats between blocks, pellets or soft baits also takes into account rodent taste preference. An effective rodenticide rotation provides the flexibility to rotate between three active ingredients and textures.
Step 2: Putting the right bait in the right location. Start with a building inspection working from the exterior to the inside. Carefully and thoroughly inspect exterior and interior walls, attics, curtains, manure pits, and other places where rodents may hide or live. Areas, where the feed lines enter the sides of the building, are common entry points. Look for nests and signs of rodent damage or traffic. These may be areas like entry and exit points, feces alongside walls, gnawed openings between floors or walls, beside burrows, or locations where rodents are observed. Once rodent nesting and feeding locations are determined, intercept their runways with a fresh, constant supply of rodenticide. An advantage of soft bait is its flexibility to place and secure it in hard to reach areas like wall voids or skewer the soft bait on a wire or zip tie between floor slats or on attic rafters. Always read and follow label directions.
Step 3: Consistency. Frequently inspect bait placements and replenish bait at sites where there is evidence of heavy feeding or evidence signs of rodent activity. Immediately replace spoiled or contaminated baits along with frequently cleaning out bait stations. Remember, rodent control is not a seasonal battle; it is a year-round war. Maintaining a consistent rodenticide rotation program helps to assure the rodent population remains resistance free in a production facility.
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Group housing for sows remained a popular topic at this year’s World Pork Expo. Hog Slat’s sales director, Fritz Richards, outlines his recommendations for stanchions.
What is the most common question asked about stanchions?
Probably the most common question is whether to use a solid or open style stanchion. We have not seen any difference in performance or sows’ behavior whether the divider panel is solid or open. The advantages of an open rodded stanchion system are:
- Better ventilation due to not blocking air movement with a solid panel.
- Improved visibility of workers to observe sows
- Lower cost
- Longer life of equipment
We also have not observed less fighting or movement at feeding time if the divider is solid. All of our knowledge has come from working with our customers around the world where we have supplied stanchion equipment for over 750,000 sow places.
What do you recommend for the length and width of the stanchion?
Most of the systems we have installed use an 18″ to 22″ wide stall with a 19″ long divider to protect the sow’s shoulder and head during feeding.
Several years ago we experimented with different lengths of dividers and found there really wasn’t much difference in sow behavior until we reached 36″ in length. What we did notice is that when we increased the stall length to 48″ the sows started using the stalls as a resting area instead of just using them at feeding.
The longer stalls allowed the more timid sows in the pen a “safe haven” where they could go to get away from the more aggressive animals. But at the same time, their movement isn’t restricted, and they can freely go in and out of the stall.
Does anything else change when the divider is lengthened?
Yes, we also spread the width out to 23″-24”. Since the stanchion was also being utilized as a resting area, we needed to provide the sows enough room to lie comfortably. Also, the pen size increased because it was necessary to allow at least seven feet between the end of the stanchion and the rear pen panel. This width avoids having a boss sow from lying across the pen and preventing the other sows from moving around freely.
What is the optimum number of head per pen?
In the beginning, we started with large pens, 50+ head, but we quickly discovered that the optimum number is 8-12 head per pen.
Stanchions continue to be the most a popular choice for many producers as they have proven to be consistent and reliable. This system adapts well to existing layouts for remodeling, there are no electronic systems to manage, and requires little additional training for the animals or caretakers.
Download your free copy of The Stanchion Handbook ,“A Practical Guide for Group Housing with Stanchions”
After animals are depopulated, the attitude on the farm shifts to preparing for the next round of animals. This traditionally includes cleaning the facility from top to bottom and applying a disinfectant. Any routine maintenance is performed, and those nagging issues that may have been noticed, but there wasn’t enough time for during production to fix, finally get the attention they need. One part of the operation that is often overlooked, however, is the water line. Sure, any stuck or leaky drinker nipples may be serviced or replaced, but by and large drinker lines are shut off and forgotten about until the pigs come back into the barn.
During this time the water line, while appearing benign on the outside, maybe even clean if the cleaning crew hit it with the pressure washer and disinfectant, is very much alive. Any leftover solids from the previous turn are settling inside the line from lack of flow. The biology present from the environment is multiplying, and any build up inside the lines is compacting into a concrete like substance. For all intents and purposes, the water line becomes an incubator while the pigs are out of the barn, especially when the barn is heated back up for repopulation. This, in turn, creates an interesting issue when the freshly weaned pigs take a drink from the line. The first drink a young pig gets is the worst drink it will get. It has the most biology, it is the warmest, oldest, and traditionally worst smelling/tasting water it will be exposed to in its life.
This is where terminal line disinfection comes in. Terminal line cleaning and disinfection occurs when the pigs are removed from the facility and line disinfectants can be applied to remove solids and eliminate any biology that is harbored in the lines. Aside from the obvious removal of pathogens, terminal line disinfection also improves the operation of the drinkers and increases the volume the line carries. The volume increase is especially important as we try to grow larger and larger finishing hogs with the same drinkers and drinker lines designed for market weight hogs 20% smaller.
The available data reflects this as well. Terminal line cleaning alone improved production at the research site as follows:
6-week wean-nursery trial – Lines cleaned and disinfected with Peraside (Peracetic Acid Disinfectant, Neogen Corp.)
Terminal line disinfection in this research trial was achieved with a 3% solution of disinfectant administered into the lines with a sump pump upon depopulation. The solution sat in the lines overnight and was flushed the next morning with fresh water. All the nipple drinkers were triggered to ensure proper function and the pigs were placed. The product can also be injected with a mixing station like the Dosatron Venturi Pump (DSA-Venturi) with the yellow metering tip installed.
This is similar to soap injector on a power washer and can be used in place of the normal medicator. The producer places the tube directly into the terminal line disinfectant and fills the lines and triggers the drinkers to ensure the product flows through all the parts of the drinker system. After allowing the solution to sit overnight, the producer then flushes the lines and triggers the drinkers again.
With a little effort, large production changes can be made, and the pigs no longer get the worst drink as their first drink.
Jesse McCoy, CWS, Business Unit Specialist, Water Treatment, Neogen Corp.