A clean dairy is a healthy dairy: Tips to keep pests from setting up shop

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ATLANTA – By their very nature, dairy farms pose a challenge for pest management. Depending on the type of operation, most dairies have distinct areas including the milking parlor, feeding areas, bed down areas and, in some cases, pastures.
With cattle frequently traveling between some or all of these areas, pests can easily hitch a ride along. But that doesn’t mean pest infestations should be a foregone conclusion.
Damage. Flies, other insects and rodents are attracted to the light, odor and temperature of your building. They stick around dairies because they offer pests access to their essential needs – food, moisture and shelter. This poses a problem because pests can cause extensive damage.
For example, rodents can gnaw through electrical wires and burrow through walls, causing needed repairs. But pests can pose an even bigger problem to the safety of your products and the health of your animals.
Both flies and rodents can transmit bacteria, including E. coli, salmonella and staphylococcus. Rodents pose an additional threat to your products and animals since they can urinate as much as a gallon of liquid a year, while rats can produce more than 100 droppings a day and mice 25 to 50.
The hair of rodents also can be cause for concern – rats and mice have more than a million hairs and molt twice a year.
Management. A good facility maintenance and sanitation program is one of the best ways to keep pests outside where they belong. Both facility maintenance and sanitation are integral components of Integrated Pest Management (IPM).
An IPM approach encompasses techniques that may be biological, physical, cultural or chemical.
Better sanitation and facility maintenance to prevent or remove pest-conducive conditions are cultural changes you can make to your operating procedures.
Inspection. Facility maintenance efforts always should start with a thorough inspection of your dairy to identify potential pest entry points. Remember, while pests may scurry through the front door, they can just as readily squeeze through a small crack in the exterior of the building.
Incorporate the following facility maintenance tips into your IPM program:

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