MEPs came close to banning second generation anti-coagulant rat poisons in a recent vote, revealed Michael McKeon, one of the speakers at the recent Teagasc Pig Farmers’ Conference.
He said they missed being banned by a very narrow margin, and there is a high chance that these will be banned next time around, which would severely compromise farmer’ ability to control rodents — unless the industry and farmers can show that they are using these products in a more sustainable and responsible manner.
They are likely to be banned unless the risk of non-target animal poisoning is reduced, and this is clearly demonstrated.
For example, over the last decade, a number of studies have highlighted the rodenticide toxicity levels in the owl population in Ireland and the UK.
While rodenticides have not been definitively linked to a reduction in the owl population, they are definitely a contributory factor in their decline.
Rodent control is unfortunately a necessity in the pig industry, due to the abundance of feed material used.
While all pig units implement rodent control measures their effectiveness varies considerably from unit to unit, said Mr McKeon.
If rodents (rats and mice) are not controlled, they may inflict considerable damage on a pig units’ productivity and efficiency — including fire damage, because it has been estimated that rodents cause 20% of all fires due to electrical faults.
From a pig farmer’s viewpoint, structural damage and food spoilage is by the risk of disease spread, including costly pig diseases like Salmonella or Leptospirosis.
The type of bait commonly in use in Ireland has an anti-coagulant as its active ingredient. Originally, first generation anti-coagulants like Warfarin or Difenacoum were used, but these required multiple feeds over a number of days for a lethal dose. More effective second generation anti-coagulants have been developed, which require much lower intakes for a lethal dose.
A single feed can be lethal for rats (2 grams) and mice (1 gram) although they may continue to feed for a few days after the initial lethal dose.
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