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Pest Manag Sci. 2003 Sep;59(9):1007-15.

Field evaluation of capsaicin as a rodent aversion agent for poultry feed.

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New York Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14853, USA.


Developing additional techniques for reducing animal feed contamination by rodents and controlling rodent populations is critical to efforts aimed at reducing the occurrence of Salmonella spp infection on poultry farms. Capsaicin, a compound found in chili peppers of the genus Capsicum, produces a burning sensation in the mouth of mammals and is used effectively as an animal deterrent for some pest species. Applied to poultry feed, capsaicin may be effective as an aversive agent to deter rodent feeding and enhance acceptability of rodenticide baits. We tested capsaicin-treated poultry diets (2000 and 3000 Scoville Heat Units, SHU) in no-choice feeding trials at four active New York farms in the winter of 1997-1998. At all farms, consumption of the 2000 SHU diet by rodents (Norway rats, Rattus norvegicus (Berk), and house mice, Mus musculus L) was significantly less than consumption of a control diet. Consumption of the 3000 SHU diet by rodents was significantly less than consumption of a control diet at three of the four farms. Overall, consumption of treated diets was 58-97% and 55-98% less than consumption of the control diet, for the 2000 and 3000 SHU diets, respectively. These reductions appeared to be related closely to the availability of alternative feed sources at these farms. Two-choice feeding trials involving a rodenticide bait (0.05 g kg(-1) brodifacoum) and the 3000 SHU diet demonstrated that Norway rats preferred the rodenticide to the capsaicin-treated poultry feed. Overall, rodenticide bait acceptance was high (95.6%) when offered simultaneously with capsaicin-treated poultry feed. Although poultry managers must utilize several techniques to manage rodent pests, the use of capsaicin-treated diets to reduce feed losses and increase rodenticide bait acceptance appears promising. Use of capsaicin-treated feed on poultry farms may substantially reduce feed contamination by rodents and ultimately the incidence of Salmonella infection in poultry.

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