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Rats (Rattus norvegicus) and mice (Mus musculus) have long been a problem on farms, in feed storage, feed mills, slaughterhouses and other parts of the supply chain where food is plentiful and nesting sites are available. These animals consume and contaminate food destined for livestock and other animals, as well as humans (DEFRA, 1996). Each rat on a farm will eat, spoil or damage approximately US$ 25 worth of grain per year. The adaptability and agility of these animals make getting rid of them particularly difficult.
In addition, insects like flies (Musca domestica) and darkling beetles (Alphitobius diaperinus) play an important role as vectors of Salmonella between consecutive production cycles (DEFRA, 2009).
On the other hand, red mites (Dermanyssus gallinae) can transmit diseases such as fowl cholera, fowl typhoid and the chicken pox virus. Red mites move quickly over a bird’s skin and feathers and their blood sucking activity can crucially cause a drop in egg production as well as anaemia and in the case of severe infestation – death. The fact red mites feed by sucking blood means they can also transmit Salmonella through contaminated blood (Pritchard et al 2015). Recommended intervention measure to control mite infestation includes the cleaning of the poultry house with products such as Elector® (Spinosad), a natural insecticide derived from fermentation of the microorganism Saccharopolyspora spinosa, which can be used in poultry houses without risk to the birds, feed or any workers. Due to the lack of cross resistance Spinosad can be rotated with all other classes of insecticide products.
Elimination of these vectors from livestock and poultry barns or other parts of the supply chain is extremely difficult. It is therefore preferable to prevent infestations from occurring by implementing concrete prophylactic measures and systematic control and monitoring where food is plentiful and nesting sites are available (Pritchard et al, 2015).
Code of Practice for the prevention and control of rodent infestations on poultry farms Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, UK (DEFRA). © Crown copyright (2009) EN 2009 Booklet
Darkling Beetles (Alphitobius diaperinus) as Potential Vectors of Campylobacter and Salmonella Hazeleger et al © American Society for Microbiology (2008) EN 2008 Scientific Publication
Code of practice for the prevention of rodent infestations in poultry flocks Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, UK (DEFRA). © Crown copyright (1996) EN 1996 Scientific Report
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