How Do You Protect Grains From Rats?
While rats can be relatively small in size, in large numbers they can cause significant damage on your farm, specifically to the volume and quality of stored grain. Now that Autumn is upon us, with cooler weather and harvesting, rats’ll follow the food from the fields into barns and other areas. And for the convenience of a roof and meal in one, they’ll race to grain elevators. Here, the threats posed by rats are threefold. They’ll not just gobble up stored grain, but they can also do structural damage (to insulation and wiring, for example) and damage by contamination.
It’s not as simple as a rat or two nibbling on a few corn kernels. A single rat can consume as much as 46 pounds of grain per year. That’s just one rat. What’s worse, they can contaminate around 10 times as much as they consume with their droppings, urine, and hair. Rats are also prolific carriers of disease with at least 45 diseases being associated with them, including dysentery, salmonellosis, and leptospirosis.
If that’s not bad enough, the real threat is reproduction. Male rats will have sex with any available female rat…and vice versa. In just a few months, several rats can suddenly become several hundred. A single pair of rats can lead to an astounding 15,000 rats within a year. Not only is that overwhelmingly gross, but it can be an overwhelmingly large problem.
Considerations and Possible Solutions
If you suspect you have a rat problem but aren’t sure, there are a few things to look for. First, since they’re largely nocturnal, examine barns and grain storage facilities at night. Use a flashlight and look for their eyes to reflect the light. Listen for gnawing, scratching, or climbing sounds in the walls. The presence of droppings is another telltale sign of rats making themselves at home.
The good news is that there are many ways to prevent and control rats and rodents, including lethal and non-lethal pest control methods.
4 Ways of Preventing and Controlling Pests and Rodents
When it comes to getting rid of rats on a farm or in a grain elevator, the right preventive measures can mean the difference between maintaining control and an out-of-control infestation. Rats are wily and ravenous. They’ll squirm through tiny holes or gnaw through pretty much anything to find food and shelter. A thorough inspection and closing off holes can help—this includes ensuring that doors close tightly (with no gaps), that drain cover holes are smaller than the tip of a sharpened pencil (<0.6mm), and that all openings (including those around doors, windows, vents, and so on) are completely sealed. It’s also essential to clean up the area around barns and other structures as old debris provides rats with ideal nesting materials and a place to hide and burrow their way under grain bins.
Poison has long been viewed as a go-to solution since it’s a relatively low-effort way to kill rats and other pests. While poison does get results, simply killing the rats can’t keep up with their rate of reproduction. There are also a host of other reasons poison might not be ideal everywhere. Not only that but poisons can also affect other species (like humans, pets, and livestock) as well as the ecosystem.
Several types of rat traps are available, each with their own pros and cons. Some of the most common are snap traps, glue traps, and live animal traps. If the infestation is particularly large, traps may not be a cost-effective solution as deploying the number of traps needed could be incredibly costly and time consuming.
4. Fertility Control
While the rat and rodent control methods listed above can be leveraged in combination to create an integrated solution, these methods offer only limited relief. While they can bring populations down quickly, that doesn’t account for the rats that survive and go on to reproduce. Because of their prolific reproduction, the population can rebound in as few as 3-6 months.
ContraPest® provides a unique, non-lethal method to reduce rat populations. It’s birth control for rats, which means they can get it on without getting out of control. A solution based on fertility control also works to counteract the “rebound effect” that can occur with other solutions.
Here’s How It Works
As part of an integrated pest management program, rats consume ContraPest’s revolutionary liquid bait. It’s like a “milkshake” for rats. They repeatedly consume the fatty, sweet formula and, over time, the population decreases. This method provides a sustainable solution as it works to prevent infestations and population spikes rather than reacting to rats with methods that leave survivors and the door open for the population to rebound. Put an end to rampant rat reproduction with ContraPest. Shop our commercial and residential products now.