Four Tips for Implementing an Insecticide Rotation Strategy in Poultry Barns

There’s no way around it. Insects are a nuisance for birds, your operation and possibly your neighbors, and you want them gone. They also can carry diseases that spread within a flock and transfer to the next flock.

One of the most significant management problems facing poultry production is pest control. Barns are the perfect environment for infestations of flies, mites, beetles and lice. Just one pair of darkling beetles can turn into a population of millions in a few months if left uncontrolled.

By implementing a good Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program, producers can minimize the physical and economic damage and nuisance pests can cause. IPM encourages the rotation of insecticides due to the increased resistance over time. Resistance can develop through the overuse, or misuse, of an insecticide.

It’s vital for poultry producers to rotate among insecticides with different modes of action to minimize resistance. There are a few things to keep in mind when implementing an insecticide rotational strategy. Here are a few tips:

Develop a monitoring program
Eliminating all pests is an unrealistic goal. However, producers can reduce pest populations to acceptable levels by starting with frequent and careful monitoring. We must adequately detect the types of pests and the pressures inside and outside of the barn.

The best monitoring methods rely on sampling devices, such as speck cards, which are white index cards placed in fly resting places to measure spots left when flies land on the card and can measure the need for fly treatment. Additionally, regular visual scouting to evaluate current pest problems or discover new problems should be done daily, weekly or monthly.

Rotate often, but not too often
When I work with producers, I suggest a six-month program of rotating the chemical class and the mode of action. When we rotate both the chemical class and the mode of action, we can rest products longer. When we rotate back to a certain chemical class or mode of action, the insect populations will be more sensitive.

It’s also important not to let rotations go too long. We don’t want populations to creep back up because we have given resistant insects the opportunity to thrive and multiply.

Avoid poor application practices
After choosing the suitable insecticide, we must ensure proper application. That involves handling, mixing and applying the product correctly and following the label directions. Also, applicators must provide a lethal dose to the insects across the entirety of the house.

Keep accurate records
It’s vital to know where you’ve been and where you’re going when planning proper insecticide rotations. Therefore, I tell producers to keep accurate records of what they are applying, how much they are applying, and when they are applying it.

These tips, along with proper sanitation and biosecurity, can help you determine whether your insecticide rotation program is working. With the right mix of insecticide solutions, rotated appropriately to maintain peak efficacy and avoid resistance buildup, you’ll be confident that your birds are protected.

Warning: Always read product labels carefully before applying any pesticide; mix and apply as directed, do not overdose, do not treat too often, and follow all precautions exactly. Remember that improper practices can lead to illegal residues even when proper materials are used. It is illegal to use a pesticide in any manner inconsistent with the label.