Controlling Mice – Baiting Strategies

Lock farmer Andrew Polkinghorne discusses his experiences in controlling mice on his property.

The best time to bait is the day or night following the seeding operation. At this point other feed sources have partially covered and the mice haven’t discovered the seed in the ground. Where mice populations are high they tend to eat more baited grain so control levels are not as desirable as they should be.

Most damage tends to follow barley crops. Perimeter paddock baiting can be effective in light infestations, as mice will move further than originally thought.

The Best Time to Bait for Mice

I believe the best time to bait is the day or the night following the seeding operation. The reason for that is because all the food sources have been covered up. usually, particularly if your using a tyne machine. The food sources are covered up. The mice come out that night, looking for something to eat, and if you’ve got the bait there ready for them to eat, well that’s the best way to go.

They haven’t yet discovered the seed that you’ve put in the ground. and every night that you delay that, they very quickly learn where the ground is, and even if you bait four or five days after you have sown. The mice tend not to take the bait quite so well, and also obviously they’ll damage the crop in the meantime We think that up to five percent damage can happen per night.

Typical Mice Bait Densities

Typically we would use a kilo a hectare, bait, and when you look at the number of seeds per kilo, there should be plenty of bait there to kill quite high population. In actual practice, I think what happens very high populations of mice is that the mice actually eat more than one or two grains before they die, and I think they can eat 12-18 grains and this sometimes means that at high populations, there’s not enough bait left for the other mice, and people find that they have to go back and re-bait.

Also, it depends just how well the mice take the bait and that would depend upon what was in the paddock last year and what the food source is, barley stubble are typically where we suffer the most damage with a conservation tillage. The use of in arrow points and press wheels. The mice obviously run the down the rows to get bait and some people have had pretty good success when they put out their bait, putting it particularly if they’ve got a narrow swath width spreader driving across the rows rather than along them, and provided you can put up with the vibration of the vehicle of whatever your using to do it.

It’s actually quite effective because it almost guarantees that the mouse will come across the bay. Mice actually move quite a bit further then was originally thought.

Perimeter Baiting Effective for Light Infestations

If you’ve got a paddock with a light infestation of mice, but there’s plenty of mice around, perimeter baiting is quite effective some farmers have actually mounted a spreader on their seeder bar which has worked quite well and others just have a spreader on the back of the ute. The frequency of them I think has increased as our farming practices have changed: intensified rotations, minimal tillage and full stubble retention, probably less livestock in the system. We have to get better at recognizing when they come and also, get better at the control.