brown rat© Rex

Poultry farmers will have to prove their competency in handling rat poison, following the introduction of a new generation of products coming to market later this year.

It is already acknowledged that resistance in rat populations is growing, and in some areas none of the existing poisons authorised for outdoor use are working.

See also: Dramatic surge in farm rat infestations

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has therefore said it will authorise three new second-generation anticoagulants – the active ingredient in many rodenticides – for use “in and around buildings”.

But the new products come with the caveat that users of “industrial quantities” – an amount yet to be confirmed – will have to prove their competency in order to purchase from 1 July next year. So-called “domestic” quantities will remain available without certification.

The HSE has left the framework for certification up to industry, and the Campaign for Responsible Rodenticide Use (CRUU) is co-ordinating efforts. Its chairman, Alan Buckle, said the group was working “extremely fast” to get the competency framework set up.

“The exact details are yet to be confirmed, but for poultry farmers, it will likely be a one day targeted rodent course that will have to meet 10-12 outcomes,” he said. “There are several that will already meet these requirements which will be ‘nodded through’, and we expect grandfather rights to apply to those who have already completed them.”

He said training outfit City and Guilds offered such a course, as did Bpex. Lantra was also developing a distance learning option.

Another part of the industry’s responsibility will be to pay for testing on non-target species, and to monitor levels of the new substances in nature, which could result in future restrictions being applied.

Tom Wornham, vice-chairman of the NFU poultry board, said he hoped the outcome would meet the needs of government, protect non-target species, but not be too draconian for farmers. He is feeding in to the stewardship scheme on behalf of the farming union.

The two currently authorised rodenticides – difenacoum and bromadiolone – will continue to be available for use, both indoors and outdoors.