Farmers in regions where winters get harsh know that rodent control is part of their equipment maintenance plan.
Small critters, such as mice, can cause big destruction when it comes to ag equipment. By nature, those pests will be looking for any warm place to call home. Don’t let your sprayer be prime real estate!
Here are tips to help keep mice, rats and other rodents from making a home out of your tractor or sprayer, and keep them from chewing on hoses, wiring, and/or wiring harnesses:
1. Clear out. Take out fence rows and clear out brush on the entire property, so critters are less comfortable around the farm, suggests Plum Creek Farm operator Ken Nolt.
2. Clean up. Clean your shop, barn, or shed so that no place seems like a comfortable spot for critters to hide. Leave no debris, not even leaves left over from the fall.
3. Leave no food source. CropCare Equipment sales manager Steve Zook, who grew up on a crop and dairy farm, said his father took extra care to clean out his shop and clean the tractor cabs.
“Many rodents have the ability to find that peanut in the haystack or the tractor cab,” Zook said.
“Do not leave any food for them; feed them once.. with bait,” he said.
Use an air compressor to thoroughly clean your equipment and be sure no food source remains anywhere on it. Leftover grain or corn will not only attract the small rodents, but could attract bigger pests, like squirrel or raccoon.
Leave bait boxes or traps in and around the shed or barn, and not in the cabs. Otherwise, there’s the risk of rodents dying while still inside. That’s not something you want to come out to in the spring.
Staff at PaulB Hardware in Lititz, which serves a large agricultural customer base, recommends a product called Fresh Cab. It can repel rodents for up to 3 months, by using a smell that would be extremely offensive to pests, but smells like air freshener to humans.
It should be placed outside the cab, under the hood, wherever water is, and wherever there might be a food source in storage.
For use outside your tractor cab, PaulB Hardware’s best-sellers are Ramik Green Nuggets, Just One Bite bars, and d-Con bait stations.
Be sure to keep children and family pets away from bait.
4. Get a closer look. Inspect your shed, barn, shop… whichever outbuilding is storing your equipment. Look for holes or cracks in the siding and seal them. Some farmers have found success using steel wool to plug holes.
5. Disconnect. Battery cables for trucks and equipment that sit over the winter can be disconnected to protect your electrical components from mice and other rodents, suggested Wes Miller of Miller Ag Service LLC, specializing in sprayers and fertilizer spreaders.
6. Make it a family affair. Katie Jo Miller, wife to Wes and customer service rep at CropCare Equipment, remembers her and her brother getting $1 per mouse trapped while growing up on the family farm. When removing a trap and/or rodent, use gloves. Remove the gloves when finished, and thoroughly wash hands with soap and water. Young children, though, should be kept away from traps and bait.
7. Feline Patrol. Keep a couple farm cats on the property as a deterrent.