As pressure mounts on farmers and landowners to increase their revenues and improve biodiversity on their land, some have turned to shooting to do both in one fowl swoop – pun intended! Shooting can offer the opportunity to undertake conservation work, earn money through shooting rents, and be able to take advantage of countryside stewardship schemes.
Shooting in the UK
Game shooting has become more and more popular in recent years – and especially over Lockdown, where it provided a form of exercise while still being able to socialise. Although it’s considered a niche countryside sport, it contributes £2 billion to the economy. 600,000 people take part in the sport and it supports 74,000 jobs. The shooting industry is involved in the management of 2/3 of the UK's rural land area - with almost 2 million hectares being actively managed for conservation.
Modern, more efficient farming methods mean that there is often not enough natural feed to keep game going through the winter and into the spring. Generally, you need to feed a tonne of feed per 125 birds released. The cost of feed only ever seems to rise so it is important to make sure that it is the correct species eating the grain and not Mr. Rat!
A study by the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust found that when rats aren’t controlled, 48% of visits to feeders are made by rats and mice! Failure to control the rat population combined with the plentiful grain means that their population can grow at a rapid rate. These rats will soon need more food to sustain them and will head to farms and houses to find food. Although Lodi UK aren’t experts in gamebirds, we’re experts in pest control!
Our top tips
Here are our top tips to control rats in the field:
- Use feed hoppers instead of hand feeding. As well as keeping the feed clean & dry and reducing manpower, hoppers reduce the amount of food available for rats and mice.
- Aim to move your feeders regularly. A study found that after feeders, it took gamebirds between 1 and 3 days to find the feeders, but it took rodents between 2 and 4 days to find the feeders. Although this won’t prevent the rats from feeding on the grain, it can help to prevent them from becoming entrenched under the feeders. You can move the feeder up to 20m away from the previous location, however, you should stay within 50m to allow the birds to find it easily.
- Consider the distance to cover. If you plan on controlling the rat population, it is best to keep the feeders near hedgerows and game crop or in woodland. This will reduce the predation of the gamebirds by birds of prey. If you don’t plan on controlling the rat population, you should place feeders around 40m away from permanent cover as rats will rarely leave the safety to feed. To further discourage the rats, any cover vegetation should be below 15cm so they cannot hide in it.
- Keep the area tidy. This might be the most difficult, especially in fields and woodland, but try to eliminate places where rats can hide and breed. This might be removing old feed sacks, piles of wood, and other debris. Making sure that grass and shrubs are well cut down will prevent the rats from being able to hide.
- Use rodenticides. You can either use tunnel traps or you could use BETA, BORA, or LodiMouse stations. We would recommend using a block or paste bait that can be secured inside the bait boxes and can’t be dragged out of the box. You can view our range of Lodi’s Gems Products here.
Since the 1st March, new regulations have meant that only certified ‘professional’ users are allowed to buy pack sizes of 3kg or above. Unfortunately, if you are not a certified user, you can only purchase 150 grams of grain and bait formulations or 300g packs of block bait. These smaller pack sizes contain half of the active substance (poison) compared to the ‘professional’ formulas. This means that you will need more of the bait to control any problems you might have. If you would like to buy larger, ‘professional’ sizes, you should visit our page on How to Comply with the New CRRU Regulations.
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