Eco-Friendly Pest Control

Today, many horse owners are trying to find less potentially harmful ways to control vermin than pesticides.
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Environmentally friendly options for pest and rodent control in the barn include hygiene efforts, trapping, and biological controls.

Poison, poison everywhere. While this has been a solution in the past for the problem of rodents, flies, and other pests, today many horse owners are trying to find less potentially harmful ways to control vermin than the perennial pesticides. Not only can these chemicals be harmful for the environment and any pets or livestock that might ingest them, but they also can kill the beneficial insects that are flies’ natural predators. Flies also are becoming more resistant to many pesticides after generations of exposure, according to entomologists. Keep your farm’s rodent and insect populations in check with the eco-friendly options we’ll describe.

Rodent and Varmint Control

According to Shea Porr, PhD, assistant professor of equine science at Virginia Tech’s Middleburg Agricultural Research and Extension Center, diligent cleanliness is the first line of defense against rats and mice. If the barn is clean, rodents won’t be attracted to spilled feed or tempted to establish nesting sites convenient to this veritable buffet.

"Having snug, well-fitting doors on tack and feed rooms can help keep pests out," says Porr. Check walls, flooring, and ceilings for cracks or separations where rodents might come through–especially in corners or around water pipes or vents. These holes can become a rodent freeway. If there’s space under any door, add a threshold that meets the door more closely

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Written by:

Heather Smith Thomas ranches with her husband near Salmon, Idaho, raising cattle and a few horses. She has a B.A. in English and history from University of Puget Sound (1966). She has raised and trained horses for 50 years, and has been writing freelance articles and books nearly that long, publishing 20 books and more than 9,000 articles for horse and livestock publications. Some of her books include Understanding Equine Hoof Care, The Horse Conformation Handbook, Care and Management of Horses, Storey’s Guide to Raising Horses and Storey’s Guide to Training Horses. Besides having her own blog,, she writes a biweekly blog at that comes out on Tuesdays.

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