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Discussion Starter #1
I am a hay farmer (alfalfa) and we rotate our fields about every seven years. In the last few years, we are being overrun with rodents - gophers, mice, voles, and moles. The little rodents are ruining fields that are only a year old or two. We have tried different forms of poison, carbon monoxide, and propane/oxygen injection with explosion. All of these methods have been costly and we still have problems. The only time we seem to get rid of them is in a flood, but there hasn't been a flood for five years. Any suggestions?
 

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What poisons have you tryed? Zinc phosphide? Zinc phosphide is an excellent small rodenticide. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zinc_phosphide
My state is faced with severe limitations on useage of rodenticides and moluskicides. We have to be very carefull and make sure no non-target species are not harmed. Zinc phosphide, properly placed, seems to do that quite well. It has virtually no secondary kill and the initial kill is as humane and quick as possible. The vole/mouse will ingest the bait, go into the hole and die quickly. The carcass then becomes an organic fertilizer as the poison, once mixed with the acid in the stomache, escapes as a gas in extremely low volumes.

With an anticoagulant, the vole/mouse will take a lot of time to die. It may go into the hole and then come back out to die where a non-target species like a bird of prey may ingest the rodent. The anticoagulant poison is still active in the rodent for quite some time after ingesting the poison.

Anyway you look at it, the control of rodents will be expensive. Baits are usually well over a dollar a pound and a minimum of 10 pounds to the acre is required for control in a broadcast application. Enough bait has to be applied to insure a lethal dose. Mice/voles will become bait smart if a sublethal dosage is ingested. Usually this is avoided when there is enough bait available to the rodent. If you skimp on application rates to lower the cost, it will come back to bite you.

For the gophers, I know a lot of people locally and in areas that can still grow hay, have had great success using the Verminator.
http://allamag.com/theverminator/

Moles,.......I have no idea. We just trap them here as that is about the only sure way to know we got blasted buggers. In a landscape situation, there is a mole repelant that works very well. It is basically a dry for of castor oil. It is spread, then watered in. I have used it and it works very well. But in a large scale field application,.............not. I have also heard that moles dont like garlic. Of course most animals that eat hay, dont like it either I would'n think, so....... Other than trapping a mole, the only other option that I have been made aware of is repelants. Poison control of moles on a large scale I have no knowledge about.

I hope you can find some control as I know all too well being the perennial grass business what damage those blasted things can cause both to the yield and the equipment.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for the suggestions. We have used Zinc Phosphide at the 10 lb per acre rate and didn't really see any control on the mice population. One field was planted in the spring of 2008 and the mice moved in over the winter. In the late winter of 2009 and then late spring 2009 zinc phosphide was applied. This week we are plowing the field out. Ooch. Did we have bad luck with our phosphide or is this normal. We broadcasted it out of our fertilizer spreader and am positive we were at least 10 lbs per acre. Any other thoughts?
 

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Gophers are easy to shoot in the hole. If you are walking a field with a gopher issue, you can carry either a gun or a trap, or both. Once you walk up on a gopher digging, and you'll see it from several feet away, you can sneek up on them from down wind and as it pushes it's new diggin'z up to the surface, you can shoot it.
If the gopher hole is fresh, but no activity for 1 minute or so, set the trap and move to the next hole down the field a bit. Once you finish hunt'n gophers, go back to the traps you set in the fresh, open holes and 9 times out of 10 you'll have a live, but well trapped gopher. Dispose of in your own manner.

Boss went out trapp'n once and brought back 2 live trophys. Must've been 5 pounders or so. Barely fit in the trap arms. They were both males and oh boy did they fight. I had no idea that gophers even had a voice box, but they can make a racket. Gophers have functioning eyes and can see whats going on. A mole has no eyes, or at least most breeds dont. Gophers also have sharp and powerfull teeth, moles have none.

My dad, and other "old" folks, have a nack for shooting moles as well. They seem to know the pushing schedule of the moles. Often twice in 24 period. Once you know the pushing schedule, you can watch the "run" and when any soil disturbance starts, a close range shotgun blast will do it right on the moving soil.
I dont have the patients needed for hunting moles. I have trapped a few successfully. One other story from an old guy that was an expert mole killer. He would follow the runs of several moles in the same field. Once he found the "grand central station", he would dig down and place a glass gallon jar and then cover the hole with wood. The moles will try to repair their runs often and as they would come through this central station where many individual runs sprouted from, they would fall in the jar and could not escape. Often in a very active field, many moles would end up in the jar in just a 48 hour period.

Sometimes when hunting gophers with a gun, if you shoot them right at the hole, you may not find the carcass without a lot of digging as their hair is setup so that they can really slide through their tunnels.

Something that we have done in the past, and now that I think about it, we may start again, is to pay a bounty on the gophers and moles. For a few years we had a couple retired farmers that wanted to stay involved. We give them the keys to the honda and paid I think 6 dollars a carcass. This only lasted a few years as the retired guys started getting too imobile and too fragile they could no longer get around well enough to get out and trap. However, in a heavily infested field,.......I wonder if one can find a retired folk with the right skills or even a young kid with some ambition, maybe a bounty type pay would work??

One thing about a lot of moles, is that you know you have healthy soils with lots of worms.

But no, it is not typical to have no control of mice with zinc phosphide. Either the bait was bad, or something to that nature. It can certainly take 2 applications to gain a good amount of control. The real trick is to read up on the rodents you want to control. The gestation period of a field mouse is less than 25 days. Up to 10 pups and weaning in another 20 days or so. Females are sexually mature in about 6 weeks and males in 8. So you can imagine the birth rate in a good food supply, and the amount of control it will take to get things taken care of....temporarily.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks for the advice. I sure wish we could have a flood. Overall we have the worst problems with the mice. Since we had poor results with the zinc phosphide with two applications. How many applications do you think we need to make and how far between? Thanks.
 

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Door, while moles do have eyes, they are very small and often obscured by thck, fine fur. Mole fur is soft as down, while gophers feel more like rabbits. Moles do have teeth, but no incisors and no pronounced bicuspids, but of the larger species [some are grown hamster-sized] you DON'T want to get bitten. Their bites are not only severely infectious, but mildly toxic, like their close relatives, the shrews. Their venom not only helps subdue their prey, but moles often build up large caches of bitten/paralyzed worms for fresh eating at leisure. The only other animals known to do this, are certain insects.
 

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After 2 apps of zinc and no control?...................I'm at a complete loss. I have not experienced a loss like that....yet. I can not make any recomends as I have no licesne to do such. I would certainly ask your supplier of zinc what their recomendation is.
The bait should be dark grey in color, allmost a graphite, and stink. A few years back, when it was still legal for us to broadcast bait anytime, we had the fert dealers mix bait in with the fall fertilizer at the proper ratio with the fertilizer rate. The baited fert would stink like crazy. If the brand of bait that you got was weak in color or did not have that "pungent"(as they call it) odor, your bait may be weak.??
But I'm at a loss to hear of no control with 2 apps of zinc phosphide. Granted it is an ongoing control issue, but for instance, in our tall fescue, it is legal for us to broadcast after harvest and up till I believe it is august 30. If we have a field with high mice pressure, we will broadcast once at 10-12 pounds. This usually gives us pretty darn good control. If the pressure was higher than usual, or if the location is next to a farmer that chooses to not control the mice, we will see a return and have to pay a crew to apply bait by hand about now, february/march. This method is extremely expensive and we are looking into the economics of even continuing growing turf grasses in the current market slump.
I wish I had a magic method for control, but I'm at a loss to hear of no control after 2 apps of bait.

Combiness, I'm not even going to question your information, I'm going to take it as fact without question. I've read a post or two of yours in the past where you talked about the moles and I also know you spend a lot of time in other studies of insects and have seen your pictures of some cool caterpillars you raise. However, and I apologize if this sounds wrong, it is not meant to, in general I speak the local dialect of "farmer". We tend to generalize somewhat. So when I said "no eyes", basically a mole cant see sh!t, and it would take some effort by a handler of said mole to get bit whereas a gopher can see right where to place its chompers on your fingers. K? Again, I apologize if my generalization is not apropriate.
 

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Door, no problem. I did not know if you had read anything i had written in the past about moles or even the bugs. it's just that i study nature and make it a business, too. I did not want to sound condescending, but just wanted to clarify a few things, as well as throw in some safety advice. Most people will protect themselves from the bites of rodents not only from fear [as in respect] for those big teeth, but the simple fact some will carry rabies.
The moles on the other hand, look so harmless and most probably are, but their tiny bite can cause a lot of latent problems, including potential rabies, too. I just wanted to dispell a common myth about moles being rodents. That said, it takes a whole different type of poison [although I'm against most poisons] to kill them. Yes, they do look quite "eyeless" don't they?

If memory serves me correct, there in the PNW, you should have the unique star-nosed moles. Those are really bizarre.
 

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No problem at all. And I apreciate your extra information and safety tips. You are absolutely right about the assumptions most folks make based on the looks of an animal or insect.

To be honest, I really have never looked into the breed of mole or even gophers we fight here. They are simply a pest when they wander into a cropped field. I do however like OU812's control method. Sounds quite humane to me and if ammo were cheaper,?..................
 

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I farm in the SW corner of Sask and we have a severe gopher problem. Our gophers are technically called Richardson's Ground Squirrels. We seed about 1700 acres and have been losing about 400 acres of crop a year to the little buggers. Its a kick in the old pocket book.

There are thousands of holes blanking out land. We break equipment and cattle break legs.

The government has brought back strychnine for farmers to use. Many people also use Rozol. People have mixed it with every type of grains out there. Some even use a mixture of corn syrup and icing sugar. We find the hull less oats seem to work the best. We try and put the poison down the hole but this is very time consuming. We now use bait stations and move them to problem areas. Many people use old chemical jugs. Just take the cap off and put a couple cups of poison in. We will plant strips of barley a week or two before the grain goes in. Then we will poison the strips heavy. The strips of barley kinda get sacrificed....

People argue how effective poisons are working. The only sure way to get rid of them is with the ol' 22. I think the most Ive shot in an afternoon was just over 700. The problem with shooting them, is others will just move in. We have cleaned out areas where it stunk of dead gophers the next morning, and within 2 days there are more running around.

People around here tried the gophernator (pumps Ammonia down the hole), Rodenator (pumps propane down the hole then explodes it), Exit (pumps a foam down the hole), drowning, trapping, fumigation tablets and everything in between. There is just too many holes.

We basically put poison out in the fields, trap in our yard and hope nature will thin them out soon. If you have small problem areas, try a new trap made by Lees Trapswork. It is time consuming but very effective.

"Experts" say the best way to get rid of gophers is to let nature take care of them. Badgers do kill many gophers but they leave huge holes by the hundreds. They do more damage than gophers. One thing you might want to try in an hay field is to put up telephone poles with small boxes on them. This encourages hawks and eagles to nest on them.


A really good trap we use. Get got bout 50 of them out in the summer.:
http://www.leestrapworks.com/


An old article bout the problem:
http://www.cbc.ca/canada/saskatchewan/story/2007/08/03/gopher-poison.html


Sorry bout the long post............
 

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Dang, Cman. I thought we had it bad with rabbits (and to a lesser extent prairie dogs). 700 gophers in a day... even shooting half that in day and we'd quickly sell out every store in town of .22LR ammo.



Yeah, obviously nature isn't doing its job. I wonder if the "experts" know how bad the problem really is. Encouraging badgers to live in your fields - the only thing worse than rabbit holes in our fields are badger dens.


Maybe something a little stronger is in order.

 
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