Growers urged to monitor and report mice activity on farm

Have you noticed any crop damage from mice?

Mice have been a consistent issue in the North West over the past 12 months, with that in mind and another great cropping season we don’t want to see your crops enjoyed by mice rather money in the bank, so we have put together a form and you can report activity on farm.

The potential exists for mice numbers to increase in spring as warmer weather allows increased breeding. We recommend you start monitoring crops for signs of mice activity and use chew cards to obtain some objective data on mice activity.

North West Local Land Services Mixed Farming Officer Kate Pearce and CottonInfo’s Gwydir Valley Extension Officer Janelle Montgomery have put together a form for growers and consultants to use in the Moree area to report weekly mice activity. The results are collated weekly and sent out as a summary so growers can get a handle on activity for their own management decisions. This is driven by the growers and consultants who participate and input their data into this form, so a huge thank you goes to them for their weekly participation.

This form is available to all our North West area, please see the instructions below. Results will be published weekly.

What we need you to do

  1. Put out some Mouse Chew Cards once a week (instructions below).
    • We have decided to use Mouse Chew Cards so we have some objective data and also so the method of monitoring is consistent between the farms.
    • They work well at this time of year when there is little to no other food source.
    • Once the crop closes over it’s more difficult to see active burrows, so we are relying on chew card results.
  2. Check cards the next day and send in results via our online form (click on it and see the information we are asking for – just some basics)
  3. Repeat each week until the end of September
  4. The results: we will send out a summary to everyone each week so we can be on the front foot in case there is any alarming spike in numbers.

Instructions for using Mouse Chew Cards

Monitoring mice using chew cards is relatively cheap and easy but does involve some time input to get an objective assessment.

Mouse chew cards are set out overnight and the proportion of the card that has been chewed by mice is recorded when it is collected the following day.

How to use chew cards

1. Pre-soak the cards in canola oil (for about 10–15 minutes) and ensure you have enough fasteners; bent wire pegs are the best.

2. Select one or two paddocks that are representative of the farm.

  • Research has found that mouse outbreaks are very dependent on paddock history. They love barley stubble. Where there is more food and more shelter you will see more mice.
  • Also risk of higher numbers where there has been significant grain loss prior to or during harvest.
  • Don’t forget your pastures, they can be in there too. You could monitor in crops adjacent to pastures.

3. Place the chew cards approximately 30 metres in from the edge of the paddock. Peg each chew card to the ground in a line of 10 cards spaced at one card every 10 metres. Follow the furrows to make it easier to find the cards again the next morning.

  • While its wet it might be easier to place the cards along the wheel tracks. Usually, just choose a random site in the paddock.

4. While walking through the paddock, look for signs of fresh mouse activity or damage.

5. Retrieve the chew cards the following morning and assess for evidence of mouse damage by averaging the damage across the 10 cards and send in the results via the online form.

Be prepared to start baiting

Be prepared to start baiting with zinc phosphide at the first sign of damage. Waiting for numbers to increase further may result in baiting when alternative food sources are more plentiful resulting in less effective baiting. ALWAYS READ THE LABEL BEFORE BAITING.

Eligible primary producers can also access a rebate to help cover the cost of purchasing zinc phosphide. To see if you qualify, visit the NSW Rural Assistance Authority website.

Mice management resources:

GRDC mouse management page

GRDC Grownote: Tips & Tactics: Better Mouse management

GRDC Webinar featuring CSIRO’s resident mouse expert Steve Henry

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