Barn Cats: The best form of rodent control

Did you know that using barn cars for rodent control likely saves you money? Don’t underestimate the barn cat as possibly the most crucial animal on your farm.

Mice are ubiquitous on farms and ranches. For every mouse you see in your barns or storage sheds, there are probably dozens you don’t see. Each mouse you do see represents eight pounds of stolen feed or grain that a mouse can eat in a year. In addition, mice can contaminate an estimated three times that much grain with their urine and droppings where they make nests.

Sure, that one mouse you see might only cost you a few dollars of grain, but that mouse will produce several dozen offspring in a year that you don’t see and will cost you hundreds of dollars. Also, mice can create serious damage and fire hazards in machinery wiring and buildings where they chew to make their nest. Not to mention, wild mice can carry parasites that can be passed onto other farm animals. Hantavirus, a serious disease in some deer mice droppings, can infect people who inhale the airborne virus when cleaning out barns.

Proactive farmers will want to eradicate rodents from their barns. True, there are many different kinds of commercial mouse poison available, but if you have ever had to bring your dog to a veterinarian for ingesting that poison, you know that it can be an expensive and even deadly risk you take by keeping mouse poison in any buildings your pets may have access to. Reusable traps are another option, but they must be frequently checked, emptied, and reset.

A barn cat that is a good hunter can catch six mice per day, providing you with natural and efficient rodent control. However, cats also can reproduce quickly and often. One unspayed female cat can be responsible for 67 descendants within only two years. To avoid ending up with too many cats to support, we recommend spaying and neutering at least some of your barn cats. It will also help you lower your cat food bill because you still need to provide commercial cat food to your barn cats. A mouse-only diet is not enough to sustain an active barn cat, especially during the cold winter months when they need extra calories to keep warm and healthy.

Each year in August, special barn cat spay/neuter programs are offered at Sioux Nation Ag Centers in Freeman and Chamberlain. Reduced price procedures include rabies vaccines and will help you cost-effectively control your barn cat population. Deworming, vaccinating, and providing flea control will also help keep your cats healthy and at their best as hunters. Like any other creature on the farm, take care of your animals, and they will take care of you.