Towards sustainable management of rodents in organic animal husbandry

B.G. Meerburg, M. Bonde, F.W.A. Brom, S. Endepols, A.N. Jensen, H. Leirs, J. Lodal, G.R. Singleton, H.J. Pelz, T.B. Rodenburg, A. Kijlstra

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From 26 to 28 May 2004 an international seminar was held in Wageningen, the Netherlands, about current knowledge and advice on rodent management on organic pig and poultry farms in Western Europe. This paper summarizes the discussions. Rodent management is necessary to protect the food production chain from health hazards to livestock and humans. Some organic farmers prefer biological rodent control, but since rodents can also transmit diseases this bears certain risks for the production of healthy livestock and safe food. Effective rodent management requires a thorough understanding of the biology of the pest species concerned. These can be divided into two groups: field rodents, such as voles, and commensal rodents like house mice and rats. The objective of managing field rodents is to minimize livestock exposure to these vectors, and to regulate their populations in case their density is expected to grow dramatically. Infestation of livestock facilities with commensal rodents can be prevented, but once they are present, their eradication must be aimed for. General elements of rodent management are (1) the prevention of rodent infestations through strategic actions such as modifying the habitat or rodent proofing of the buildings, (2) monitoring their appearance and population density, and (3) rodent control measures. A number of possible management actions is described to provide a basis for examining the measures: social acceptability, their economic and environmental impacts, and their efficacy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)195-205
JournalNJAS Wageningen Journal of Life Sciences
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2004


  • organic farming
  • pig farming
  • poultry farming
  • rodents
  • rodent control
  • rodenticides
  • food safety
  • population ecology
  • toxoplasma-gondii
  • house mice
  • rats
  • farms
  • infection
  • predation
  • risk
  • wild

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    Meerburg, B. G., Bonde, M., Brom, F. W. A., Endepols, S., Jensen, A. N., Leirs, H., ... Kijlstra, A. (2004). Towards sustainable management of rodents in organic animal husbandry. NJAS Wageningen Journal of Life Sciences, 52(2), 195-205.