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What can I do to prevent vole damage in my yard?
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Voles are small, micelike critters that can cause severe damage to orchards, ornamentals and trees by girdling. Sometimes the damage they do is credited to mice and rabbits. Voles usually eat grasses, forbs, roots, bark, snails and insects, and to find food, they build tunnels and surface runways. They prefer heavy ground cover of grasses and grasslike plants or litter. Here are some tips to help control them:
- Eliminate weeds, ground cover and litter around lawns and ornamental plantings.
- Cover should be cleared three feet or more from the base of trees.
- Cylinders of hardware cloth can protect individual plants and should be buried six inches below the ground surface.
- Frightening devices are ineffective.
- Two repellents are approved — Thiram is a fungicide and capsicin is the chemical that makes peppers hot. They alter the taste of plants and make them unpalatable, but their effectiveness is shortlived.
- Lethal control includes two approved toxicants — zinc phosphide and anticoagulants. Both can be effective but there are safety concerns that must be addressed before using them. Information about these toxicants is available through your local USU Extension office.
- If voles invade the home, which is rare, they can be removed with the same snap traps or live traps used for mice.
- While they pose no major public health problems, voles can carry disease organisms and should only be handled with appropriate protective clothing such as leather gloves.
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- I have a small flock of about 25 chickens. They range in age from 7-10 months. Recently I've had about 8 of them die. The first signs of a problem were blood on the outside of the egg shells. Then I noticed that several of them had bloody areas around the vent and under the tail. All but a couple of those with the symptoms have died. The few that recovered seem to be OK with 1 exception, and that hen no longer lays eggs, and has a very grungy appearance. After death, if you pick up the bird and examine it, the vent is wide open and you can see right down into the center of the bird. The last bird I found I could even see an egg yolk inside the body cavity. Could you give me a best guess as to what might be causing this and what steps I can take to relieve the problem? I noticed on one hen that I lost this week, that in the day or two before she died, she had a white runny diarrhea, didn't seem interested in eating or drinking and shortly before death she seemed to swell and have a puffy appearance. Another is the roosters, one has had all the smaller feathers around the tail pecked out, and has raw looking skin in that area, the other is missing most of the feathering on his breast. Several of the hens have no feathers in the vent area (probably from what you describe) and on the lower back just above the tail. The main thing I was wondering about is the diarrhea...when I noticed that, I did some research online, and kept coming up with pullorum, and I was wondering if that might be a problem. They say it's nearly eradicated, but occasionally shows up in a backyard flock. What are the chances of that, and what other symptoms should I watch for? If it was that, besides getting rid of the flock, what other steps would I need to take to make the coop safe for future use?