‘Get to the heart of the matter
in pest management: ’

nature

Nuisance from vermin is a common problem in livestock farming. Where production animals live, plagues will come in. The presence of manure, nesting material, nesting places, and feed is attractive to rodents, insects, or birds, for example. Together with Joan Rooijakkers of Agro Pest Control (APC), we will go deeper into pests and how best to control them.
Our partner for pest-free stables:

Problems and dangers of pests:

  • Transmission of diseases such as swine fever, salmonella, or mastitis
  • Contamination of animal feed
  • Damage to buildings
  • Stress in livestock
  • Economic damage
Request a free intake interview for
a tailor-made plan!

Combat versus prevention

For years, Joan Rooijakkers stopped talking about pest combat:

“I prefer to talk about prevention or control. If you have to fight plagues, you are already too late. It saves a lot of labour and costs if you take preventive action. Every year.”

According to Rooijakkers, the entrepreneur must, therefore, rethink when it comes to pests.

“A farmer must be busy producing food: ensuring that his animals have a good life and that a high-quality product is delivered. If an entrepreneur is mainly concerned with combating a plague and spraying its stables full of poison, then it is time to start thinking differently.”

Prevention and control are two terms that are close in meaning. The most important thing with either approach is to keep pests out or away. Agro Pest Control (APC) strives for a wholly rodent and fly-free business. This strive also means that problems are kept out instead of being fought.

Joan Rooijakkers

  • Commercial Director at Agro Pest Control (APC)
  • 25 years of experience in pest control
  • APC: 35 employees and 2000 customers
  • Working area APC: The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, and Denmark

Keep out pests

What does not come in does not have to go out. If you keep pests outside the company, the pests will not enter, preventing more significant problems. Rooijakkers: “In the barn, only what is allowed is present. An entrepreneur enters through his hygiene lock, takes a shower, and changes clothes. Only what comes through the lock may enter. The rest is not welcome.”

Organic pest control

When a species gains ground in the wild, nature intervenes. Humans can choose to imitate this nature or lend a hand by using organic controls. Organic pest control means we use natural methods to prevent and control pests.

Why choose organic pest control: Safe for humans, animals, and the environment Lesser or no (pricey) biocides needed anymore Labour-saving Easy to adjust Better long-term management results More biodiversity around the agricultural company

Joan Rooijakkers of APC has been working in pest control for twenty-five years. He saw a fair number of control methods during his career. Rooijakkers: “Every animal species, including vermin, has natural enemies. These predators, such as robber flies and birds of prey, bring nature back into balance and control the pests. Therefore, get to the heart of the matter when it comes to pest management: nature. That works.” Do you need more space for that? “No, but you have to use your space differently.”

How to approach organic control

To properly use the method of organic control, start at the beginning. After all, you have to know the biology of the pest before you can control it. What are the properties of the pests? Where does it come in, and why does it feel so at home here? How do we adjust those circumstances so that it no longer feels at home and takes refuge elsewhere?

Legislation and food safety

Many farmers are affected by pests. Fighting pests yourself is almost impossible within current regulations. Prevention is, therefore, essential. You can obtain advice from specialized companies such as Agro Pest Control yourself. APC supports control and works according to the principle of Integrated Pest Management, where food safety has the highest priority.

Rodents

There are three different types of rodents that cause a lot of nuisance on livestock farms:
  • Black rat
  • Brown rat
  • House mouse
Each rodent species has its specific origin and characteristic behavior. A brown rat is entirely different from a black rat. So a successful approach differs for each species.
The black rat is a rodent from Southeast Asia and comes in all colour variations. You can now find this exotic species all over the world. It is a small rat with a long tail and pointed ears. It is a clean, picky, and territorial animal and a threat to other rodents. Rooijakkers: “Sometimes I come to a company, and then the owner says: ‘The problem is gone; all my mice are dead’. When I see mice lying around with their heads bitten off, I unfortunately have to say that he has gotten a bigger problem instead: the black rat.”

The black rat is the most difficult pest to control due to its intelligence and strict peck order in the group; the weaker animals are sacrificed to be trapped. Rooijakkers: “When the barn is ‘full’, a group of females will be chased away, and the plague will spread. Also towards other companies.”

Why does the black rat consider the farm as a comfortable place?

We can regularly find the black rat on pig and poultry farms. By nature, the rat likes heights – not water – and lives in fruit-bearing trees such as chestnut and other nut trees. The black rat is also fond of berry bushes. Joan Rooijakkers: “The rat associates a stable with an attic, or a roof with beams, with a tree.” The rat eats the food for the production animals. Pigs eat twenty-four hours a day, so there is always food nearby.

Cavity walls and pipes provide the heat and nesting material the animal is looking for. The beast’s urge to reproduce is big; often, they come into the farm as a couple, searching for a shelter and a place for a nest. Rooijakkers: “Nest material such as food bags, ropes, and iron wire is often available. At night they take their time to make a nest and leave marks. The almost blind animal walks around the farm by smelling and hearing.”

What problems does the black rat cause?

In warm months the black rat gives birth every three weeks and nurses for four weeks. One pregnant couple produces about a thousand offspring per year. The animals eat cables, leave excrement and cause a lot of visible damage. The rat has its specific flea that transmits diseases. The food is also contaminated with bacteria from the urine and feces. Rooijakkers: “The damage caused by the black rat runs into millions. And: the damage will never go away.”

How do you control the black rat?

  • First, remove the occurring black rats with biocides, then make a plan to keep the animals out
  • Make sure the stable is well-closed: close holes in ceilings, windows, and doors
  • Close doors
  • Clear and clean your property: the tighter, the better
  • Do not leave wheelbarrows with food
  • Cover animal feed silos
  • Make sure the area around an outdoor silo is clean
  • Use fragrance outside (the essence of lion manure: the natural enemy)
  • Place boxes with clamps
  • Place nest boxes for birds of prey (the owl or peregrine falcon: natural predators)
  • Plant herbs and ensure more biodiversity
  • But: do not plant nut trees, berry bushes, or cherry trees
  • Sprinkle half a meter of gravel or shells around the house
The brown rat is frequently seen. It is the rodent that you also buy as a tame rat in the pet store. Rooijakkers: “I don’t understand this; it’s the biggest pervert there is”. The brown rat is a digger and swimmer and likes to live near water. “It is not a smart and above all a lazy rat.”

Why does the brown rat consider the farm as a comfortable place?

The brown rat lives outdoors, needs a lot of space, and therefore likes to visit cattle farms and goat farms. Here are open stables, and the food is usually stored outside. In a corn silo, the rat finds food and moisture: no reason anymore to leave the silo. The rat loves sewers, (open) milking parlours, and manure in manure cellars.

What problems does the brown rat cause?

The brown rat leaves urine and feces. Diseases such as salmonella are spread through the urine. The brown rat is attracted by milk residues on the cows’ teats (in the milking parlour), which causes inflammation of the udder. The brown rat is also a danger to humans concerning Weil’s disease (meningitis), also known as Leptospirosis.

How do you control the brown rat?

  • Tackle the rat outside
  • Make sure the environment is unattractive to the rat
  • Clean up the hay shed regularly
  • Cover corn silos well
  • Provide the most hygienic manure storage possible
  • Always clean up food residues
The house mouse has a light brown to dark gray colour, a slender build, a thin tail, large ears, and a pointed head. It is the only mouse to cause problems; wood mice or shrews are not a threat to livestock farming. The house mouse can come in through any crack; therefore, it is challenging to keep the animal out.

Why does the house mouse consider the farm as a comfortable place?

The house mouse likes to visit all kinds of agricultural companies. The large availability of food and nesting material attracts the house mouse. The house mouse also likes to come into the milking parlour.

What problems does the house mouse cause?

The rodent has to gnaw to wear out its teeth, which is what the animal does. The house mouse causes a lot of damage by polluting and gnawing on materials and cables. House mouse feces and urine cause disease. Mice walking around livestock cause a lot of stress to livestock.

House mice multiply at lightning speed: within six weeks, a mouse is an adult, and the animal can reproduce. A mouse gives birth six to ten times a year. In one year, a mouse produces a family of 2,600 offspring.

How do you control the house mouse?

  • Start early
  • Fight or scare away the present mice
  • Make a preventive plan
  • Maintain good company hygiene

Fly

According to Joan Rooijakkers of APC, fly control has been neglected for years. “But it is possible to operate completely fly-free with the organic control program.” Fly control is a more complex challenge than rodent control because the fly has different stages, and each stage requires a different approach. An overarching plan for all four stages is needed to deal effectively with the entire pest. And here also applies: if you combat preventively, it saves a lot of work and money.

The four stages of a fly:
  • Egg
  • Larval stage
  • Pupal stage
  • Adult

A fly transforms itself from egg to adult in ten to fourteen days.

Fighting fly eggs

You control fly eggs best with predatory mites. Rooijakkers: “The predatory mites themselves are not spreaders of disease, but they eat the fly eggs so that the eggs will no longer transform into larvae.”

Fighting fly larvae

The fly larva (or maggot) itself has three stages. It isn’t easy to control all stages of the fly larva with biocides. Rooijkakkers: “We recommend a combination of robber flies, which eat the larvae, and Predal. Predal creates a bacterium in the larva, causing it to die. The larva of the robber fly eats the fly larva, while the robber fly itself does not cause any nuisance.”

Fighting fly pupae

In the fly’s third stage of its life cycle, the larva turns into a brown, cylindrical pupa. “You need the parasitic wasp to control fly pupae,” Rooijakkers explains. The parasitic wasp depends on the fly pupa. He drills a hole in the pupa and deposits his eggs in it. The larvae of the parasitic wasp feed on the larva of the fly. “This is how you are one step ahead of the adult flies.”

One comment. “If a barn has too thick crusts of manure, the pupae are not reached. It is therefore important to inspect the company first and to see which obstacles we may encounter,” Rooijakkers explains. “Removing a thick crust of manure can take up to a year. But that is also possible; there are good products available.”

Fighting adult flies

You control 85% of the fly population during the first three stages. Rooijakkers: “If you still have flies after the first three steps, fly light traps inside or pheromone traps outside are a solution. But always tackle the problem at its source, then the costs are manageable, and you limit damage and nuisance.” An organic method of control is the use of swallows, for which the flies are the food.

Start with fly control in the spring

APC’s advice is to start controlling flies in the spring. “This usually starts in week 12,” says Rooijakkers. “Start immediately with a preventive plan of fully organic control. After a year, you take stock and adjust the plans.”

Request a free intake interview for a tailor-made plan!

Action plan HyCare and APC

Every company differs, and every company has to deal with different problems. HyCare and APC use a personal approach and a tailor-made plan when it comes to pest control. They make use of the following action plan:

1. An intake interview with the entrepreneur

2. The HyCare specialist visits the company, checks the general hygiene status, and talks to the entrepreneur about the company, the problems, and possible solutions

3. If the entrepreneur is interested in HyCare/APC, a plan is developed to make the barn HyCare-worthy, so also pest-free.

4. APC, together with a biologist, examines which animals live in the natural habitat to put together a tailor-made organic control program

5. The company is monitored every year to maintain results

Agro Pest Control

Professional pest control for the agricultural entrepreneur! With over 25 years of experience in pest control on agricultural farms, we know the concerns of livestock farmers like no other. For years, we have been working on a complete biological control plan and we are ready for the law change of 2023.

Go to the website

Contact us for
more information

Leave your details and we will contact you within 2 working days.