A unique trapping campaign to help farmers reduce the number of rats, and the spread of leptospirosis is starting to report success in Wairarapa.
Two dairy and one dry stock farmer have had the opportunity to build a trapping network using state of the art Goodnature traps since the start of the year.
As they approach winter, all are reporting the traps impact upon their farms’ rodent populations, and welcoming the opportunity to take another approach to dealing with leptospirosis.
The farm trapping networks were set up in co-operation between Goodnature and animal health company Zoetis, manufacturer of the Leptoshield leptospirosis vaccine.
Rats on farms are a key vector for the debilitating disease, spreading it through their urine onto grass and feed, and in turn passing it onto livestock and humans.
The Goodnature A24 “Chirp” traps used in the networks on the farms are Bluetooth enabled, and when linked to the farmers’ cell phone through the Goodnature app they record time, day and air temperature when each pest was killed. An alert is also issued when bait and CO2 gas canisters need replacing.
Drystock farmer Mark Guscott established a network of 50 traps across his family’s property that covers 800ha and has some significant bush areas including 20ha of covenanted bush and areas being managed under the Ponatahi Eco Zone project.
He welcomed the opportunity to include the traps in an already thorough pest control process that has helped knock pest numbers back over the years, and lift birdlife in the bush areas.
“We have had about 70 kills from the traps so far. I had not used these traps before and was not sure what to expect, but I feel that is a pretty good outcome so far.”
He appreciates the traps’ ability to digitally count the number of kills recorded, given the bodies of rats are often dragged off by either other rats or vermin.
He found the traps around the farm buildings were the most likely to be activated, but he also laid them in the covenanted bush area.
“They are almost a case of set and forget, with the “chirp” reminder there if the bait is running out or the canister is running low.”
Dairy farmer Scott Dormer has had about 30 kills from the six traps he laid out in the campaign, and believes there are fewer rats around than he has seen in the past.
“They definitely work well and if we had another property we needed traps on, we’d be using these. The ability to alert you to when they run out of bait and gas, that is a big plus.”
He appreciates the role they help play in keeping lepto’ at bay. He has not had the disease himself, but he knows plenty of farmers who have.
Fellow dairy farmer Clint Renall says his rat population has enjoyed the luxury of dairy cow feed meal for too long, but he is confident now the herd is dried off there will be some solid kill numbers from his trap network.
Zoetis vet advisor Victoria Chapman says the traps will be invaluable in helping “break the cycle” of rodent-livestock-human infection that can arise on dairy farms.
“Lepto’s debilitating effects upon humans is well known, but it also has a negative effect upon herd and flock productivity if they are infected with it,” she says. Those effects can include fever, anaemia, poor production, abortion, and infertility.
She says along with vaccination and good hygiene traps have a vital role to play in farm disease biosecurity, for a relatively small outlay.