The current threat of a mouse plague to rural Australia does not need to be a disaster for hay farmers, according to a Queensland marketing agency.
Feed Central has released a new guide to help producers control mice in their haysheds and avoid the significant damage a plague can cause.
Feed Central’s managing director Tim Ford said the guide was designed to overcome a shortage of information on the subject for producers.
‘‘Many regions are now facing significant mice pressure but sound management can reduce the risk,’’ Mr Ford said.
Last year, Feed Central successfully fought a mice plague in its own sheds.
‘‘We did lose product, but it was not the disaster it could have been,’’ Mr Ford said.
‘‘To begin ‘the fight’ we did a lot of research and to help clients in the same situation we compiled a brief fact sheet on mice control.’’
While advising farmers to make their own decisions, the fact sheet outlines ways to make the environment unappealing to mice.
The guide says early detection and early action is critical, describing baiting as the most common control option.
‘‘If there’s increased mouse activity you should increase baiting numbers substantially and immediately and check the bait stations every 24-48 hours,’’ Mr Ford said.
He said bait stations should be placed close to or against walls and should be placed closer together and more often if mice are seeking other food sources.
‘‘Baiting is worthwhile, even where there is a large amount of feed, because mice like a variety of feed sources.
‘‘They don’t want to eat hay and grain all the time.
‘‘It can be costly so it is worth spending the time and effort in getting it right.’’
The guide also outlines options for fumigation and natural control measures, while adding that baiting has an advantage over fumigation in that farmers can manage it internally safely and cost effectively.
Mr Ford said the plague was a natural event and would peak and then decline with the arrival of lumpy tail disease — a naturally occurring disease that is easy to see and when it arrives can destroy a colony.
■For more information, visit: www.feedcentral.com.au/managing-mice-plague-haystacks/