Action Details

Pre-feeding

Facts

  • Pre-feeding is a strategy to enhance the kill achieved by aerial baiting, when using bait stations, or when using traps for possum control.
  • Prefeed may comprise either carrot or cereal baits, or a flour-based mix.
  • Pre-feeding introduces naive possums to a novel food and primes their interest in the subsequent toxic baiting.
  • Pre-feeding generally gives better possum kills and thus a longer period of protection before possum numbers increase to and exceed Tb threshold densities.
  • Prefeed reduces sublethal consumption of bait, but robust comparisons are only now being evaluated on the costs, benefits, and risks (to non-target species) of its use.
  • Use of prefeed in bait stations shortens the time taken by possums to find toxic bait.

Supplementary information

  • Prefeed bait is by necessity the same as the following toxic bait, except that it is free of toxin and dye (used to indicate the bait is toxic).
  • Prefeed appears to increase the kill of possums surviving previous control and exhibiting bait shyness, and overcomes cautious feeding behaviour.
  • The effect of prefeed on bird deaths is equivocal, but prefeed reduces the time toxic bait is out in the environment, and hence the length of time non-target species are at risk.
  • Sowing rates vary, but prefeed is typically sown at or just below the sowing rate of the subsequent toxic bait.
  • Prefeed for aerial operations should ideally be sown within 2 weeks of the toxic drop.
  • When prefeed is used for ground baiting, the toxic application should ideally be applied less than 4 days following the prefeed.
  • When prefeed is used for ground baiting not all prefeed baits need to be replaced with toxic ones or traps (i.e. more prefeed baits can be used than toxic baits or traps).
  • When pre-feeding bait stations, allow possums access to bait for at least a week before applying toxic bait.
  • If bait stations are pre-fed, only apply toxic bait in those stations with prefeed bait removed.
  • Ensure all prefeed bait is in good condition and palatable.
  • For some ground-based baits operations there are prefeed pastes available (e.g. from Connovation or Pest Management Services).