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Pest And Pesticide Use Assessment For Poultry Production Systems In New York State And The Commonwealth Of Pennsylvania For 1992



The New York poultry industry produces approximately $72.7 million worth of processed poultry products (New York Agricultural Statistics, 1991-1992)The New York poultry industry makes a significant contribution to the total agribusiness production of the state equal in size to that of the apple industry. The largest portion of the New York poultry industry is the egg industry. Nine hundred and eighty-seven million eggs were produced by poultry farms in New York in 1991 at a value of $52.6 million.

The Pennsylvania poultry industry produced approximately $470 million of poultry products in 1991 (1991-1992 Statistical Summary and Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture Annual Report). Of this total, 47% was from egg production, 37% from broiler production, 15% from turkeys, and 1% from the sale of other chickens. Pennsylvania ranked third in the United States in egg production in 1991. Lancaster county is by far the largest poultry producing county in the Commonwealth, claiming 42.5% of the total value of poultry in Pennsylvania in 1991.

This report summarizes pesticide-use data during 1992 for poultry production systems in New York and Pennsylvania. Funding for this report was provided by the National Agricultural Pesticide Impact Assessment Program, United States Department of Agriculture.

Certain words and/or terms used throughout this paper are defined below:

Active ingredient (AI):
The chemical within the pesticide formulation that controls the pest.
Trade name:
The name designated for a chemical by a company. Similar formulations can have different trade names.
One survey complete with all responses within that survey - synonymous with one poultry producer. Also used to describe all answers about one particular pesticide used by a producer (i.e. one insecticide record).
One entry within a record (survey). Since there can more than one response to certain questions, the distinction between records and responses is important.


The survey encompassed a total of 8,959,750 birds, of which 3,103,300 were produced in New York (approximately 37.3% of the poultry in the state), and 5,856,450 were produced in Pennsylvania (approximately 2.7% of commonwealth poultry). Layer operations represented 45% of the poultry operations and totalled 2,368,650 birds (Table 1).

Table 1: Type of operation

Type of operation# of records% of records# of poultry
Layers 37 45.0 2,368,650
Broilers 19 23.8 1,644,200
Layers and pullets 10 12.5
Pullets 10 12.5 517,000
Turkeys 1 1.3 440,000
Layers pullets broilers 1 1.3
   Layers 10,000
Layers and ducks 1 1.3
Family flock 1 1.3 200

Sixty-one percent of the producers used a caged-layer house. These were typically high rise layer houses with concrete floors. Seventy-six percent of poultry producers used a tractor to remove manure from their houses. It was done semi-annually. The most common type of watering system was a nipple , and the water source was a well. Fifty- five percent of producers were certified pesticide applicators.

Poultry producers were asked to rank poultry pests by their degree of difficulty of control, with "1" being the most difficult and "7" being the least. Seventy-four percent of poultry producers considered flies to have a difficulty level of 1 or 2. Rodents also were perceived as being hard to control, with 56.5% giving them a difficulty level of 1 or 2. For the remaining pests, it appears that ticks are the least difficult to control, and chicken mites and lice are of medium difficulty.

Rodents and flies were considered to cause the greatest economic loss to the poultry industry (58.7 and 56.0% respectively, Table 2). One producer went so far as to say, "fly control has become a major problem. It seems to be getting much worse year after year, in addition to being a major expense. I spend over $7,000 per year on fly control." On the other hand, 8.0% indicated that none of the pests listed caused any economic losses to their operation. These producers gave the following reasons:

Table 2: Pests that cause an economic loss to the poultry industry (75 records)

Pest# of responses% of records
Rodents 44 58.7
Flies 42 56.0
Lesser mealworm, hide beetles 36 48.0
Northern fowl mites 6 8.0
None 6 8.0
Chicken mites 1 1.3

Flies appear to be the most resistant to those insecticides available for their control (61.3%, Table 3). However, the same mixed feelings described for economic losses also existed for resistance. While many producers indicated that resistance is a major problem, 16.0% of producers felt there was no resistance problem at all.

Table 3: Pests that appear to be resistant to available pesticides (62 records)

Pest# of responses% of records
Flies 38 61.3
Rodents 13 21.0
None 12 19.4
Lesser mealworm, hide beetles 7 11.3
Northern fowl mite 5 8.1
Do not know 2 3.2

Herbicide Use

Pests such as stable flies and mosquitoes can become a problem when vegetation is not controlled around poultry houses, water sources (especially ponds), and manure holding areas (Axtell, 1985). Even low populations of stable flies can cause problems in poultry houses as they are blood sucking flies. Mosquitoes transmit fowl pox and are a nuisance to humans and other livestock. In addition, tall grass in front of the exhaust fans can restrict air flow from the facility and also detract from the good appearance around the facility. Therefore, herbicides may be part of a poultry producer's pesticide-use. A total of 12 poultry producers from both New York and Pennsylvania (15.0%) used 17 herbicide applications for an average of 1.4 herbicide applications per producer (Table 4).

Table 4: Poultry producers using herbicides in 1992

State# not using herbicides# using herbicides# used# per producer
New York 16 5 8 1.6
Pennsylvania 52 7 9 1.3
Totals 68 12 17 1.4

Table 5 summarizes the herbicides used by the 12 poultry producers. Roundup was the herbicide used most often, applied to 16.25 acres - an average of 1.98 times - for a total of 161.26 lbs. of glyphosate applied by poultry producers in 1992.

Table 5: Herbicide use by poultry producers (17 herbicide records)

   Brand Name
# of recordsAcres treatedTimes appliedAcre trtmntsRate AI per applicationTotal lbs Al applied
Formula 40 1 2.00 1.00 2.00 1.9 3.80
Ranger 1 4.00 1.00 4.00 1.5 6.00
Roundup 8 16.25 1.98 32.25 5.0 161.26
Gramoxone 1 1.00 3.00 3.00 0.9 2.81
Bicep 6L 2 1.52 1.99 3.02 1.5 4.53
Prowl 1 0.02 1.00 0.02 2.0 0.04
Pramitol 25E 3 2.65 1.00 2.65 16.3 43.29

Rodenticide Use

Not only can rodents cause large economic losses to poultry producers through feed loss (Axtell, 1985), and structural damage, but they are also vectors of disease. One of the major steps in a program to reduce Salmonella enteriditis is intensified rodent control in poultry operations (Opitz, 1992). Therefore, the use of rodenticides, as well as cultural and/or biological control are an important part of any poultry operation.

Fifteen poultry producers (18.8%) responding to the survey did not use rodenticides in their operation in 1992 (Table 6). Of the producers who used rodenticides, 12 used the services of a custom applicator in Lancaster county. Use information relative to rodenticides for these producers was obtained from the custom applicator. The remaining 53 producers made 86 rodenticide applications for an average of 1.6 rodenticide applications per producer. Ninety-three percent of these rodenticide applications were applied by the producer or his/her employee.

Table 6: Poultry producers using rodenticides in 1992 (68 records)a
State# not using rodenticides# using rodenticides# used# per producer
New York 3 18 38 2.1
Pennsylvania 12 35 48 1.4
Totals 15 53 86 1.6

aDoes not include the 12 producers in Pennsylvania who use a custom applicator.

A summary of the rodenticides used (excluding the 12 producers using a custom applicator) is presented in Table 7. The most commonly used active ingredients were diphacinone and brodifacoum (19.8%), followed by bromadiolone (16.3%). Two thousand and eighty-two pounds of formulated product containing diphacinone, and 1,783 lbs formulated product containing brodifacoum were used in poultry operations in 1992.

Table 7: Summary of rodenticides used (86 rodenticide records)

Active Ingredient# of records% of recordsAmount product used (lb)Amount Al used (lb)
brodifacoum 17 19.8 1,783.09 0.08915
bromadiolone 14 16.3 1,194.00 0.05971
bromethalin 11 12.8 202.62 0.02026
chlorophacinone 5 5.8 155.25 0.00776
cholecalciferol 4 4.7 124.00 0.09300
diphacinone 17 19.8 2,082.00 0.15160
pival 5 5.8 239.50 0.71625
warfarin 11 12.8 1,022.25 1.63756
Zinc phosphide 2 2.4 16.50 2.15440
Total 4.92969

The custom applicator that serviced 12 Pennsylvania producers applied a maximum of 280 lbs Rozol (0.56 lbs chlorophacinone) and 2,002 lbs Maki (0.1001 lbs bromadiolone) in 1992. New York producers used brodifacoum most often (21.1%), followed by diphacinone (15.8%), while Pennsylvania producers who applied rodenticides themselves, used bromadiolone and diphacinone most often (22.9%).

Seventy-five percent of all rodenticides used were applied as either toss packs, bait stations, or a combination of both. Fifteen producers (18.89%) spent between $100-299 while an equal number did not spend anything on rodenticides in 1992. Over half of the producers (45 out of 80) indicated that they used some other control method either in addition to, or instead of rodenticides. The most common of these methods was the use of cats (35.0%, Table 8). This was especially true of Pennsylvania producers, where 23 (32.4%) used cats for rodent control.

Table 8: Alternatives used to control rodents in 1992 (80 records)

Alternative# of NY responses# of PA responses# of total responses% of total records
Cats 5 23 28 35.0
Traps 7 16 23 28.8
Exclusion 6 3 9 11.3
Sticky boards 3 3 6 7.5
Not specified 9 26 35 43.7

Insecticide Use

Insect pests are a major concern in the poultry industry. Flies are not only a nuisance pest both around the farm and in nearby communities, but can cause economic losses through transmission of disease, and spots on eggs (Lancaster and Miesh, 1986). Darkling beetles (lesser mealworms) are abundant in litter and thus create the most problems in turkey and broiler houses (Axtell, 1985). They can also become severe problems in caged-layer operations. They enter the insulating materials in the houses, and chew out holes. They harbor pathogens that cause poultry diseases, and attack and feed on unhealthy, immobile chicks. Ticks and mites are of economic importance due to loss of blood; they can cause death by exsanguination. Lice infestations can cause severe irritation which interferes with feeding and results in the loss of weight and decreased egg production.

Chemical treatment of insect pests can be effective in reducing damaging pest populations, but can also damage populations of beneficial insects. With increasing pressure from the non-agricultural neighbors of poultry operations, producers have had to strive for a blend of chemical and non-chemical control methods to keep pests in check.

Twenty-six (32.5%) of the 80 poultry producers responding to the survey did not use insecticides in their operation in 1992 (Table 9). Of the producers who used insecticides, nine were under a poultry contract in which the contractors took care of all insecticide treatments, and thus the producers were not informed as to what was being done. We unfortunately were unable to get any insecticide use information from this contractor. The remaining 45 producers made 105 insecticide applications for an average of 2.3 applications per producer.

Table 9: Poultry producers using insecticides in 1992 (71 records)a

State# not using insecticides# using insecticides# used# per producer
New York 7 14 44 3.1
Pennsylvania 19 31 61 2.0
Totals 26 45 105 2.3

aDoes not include nine Lancaster county producers where insecticide applications are provided by the poultry contractor.

A summary of the insecticides used is presented in Table 10. Permethrin was the most frequently used active ingredient (22.1%). However, pyrethrins, with or without synergists were used equally as often. New Yorkers seemed to prefer permethrin (31.8%), while Pennsylvanians preferred pyrethrins, pyrethrins plus PBO, and pyrethrins plus PBO and MGK-264 (27.9% combined).

Table 10: Summary of insecticides used (104 insecticide records)

Active Ingredient# of records% of records
bomyl 6 5.8
carbaryl 8 7.7
cyfluthrin 1 1.0
cypermethrin 2 1.9
cyromazine 16 15.4
dimethoate 7 6.7
methomyl 12 11.5
permethrin 23 22.1
pyrethrins 4 3.8
pyrethrins, PBO 13 12.5
pyrethrins, PBO, MGK 264 6 5.8
ronnel and DDVP 1 1.0
tetrachlorvinphos 3 2.9
tetrachlorvinphos and DDVP 2 1.9

Flies were the pest for which treatment was most common (82.5%, table 11). Pyrethrins were used most often to control flies (25.6%) followed by permethrin. Treatment for flies alone or in combination with another pest made up 91.4% of all insecticide treatments. Pennsylvania poultry producers treated only for flies and/or lesser mealworms, while New York producers also treated for northern fowl mites and chicken lice.

Table 11: Active ingredients used to control target pests (103 insecticide records)
Pest controlled# of responses% of records
Flies 85 82.5
Flies and lesser mealworms 7 6.8
Lesser mealworms 7 6.8
Northern fowl mites 2 1.9
Flies and northern fowl mites 1 1.0
Flies and chicken lice 1 1.0

The method of application used most often with insecticides was space spray (33.3%), followed by residual spray (25.5%). A backpack or hand pump sprayer was used most often (25.7%), followed by the high pressure sprayer (21.6%). Twenty percent of the poultry producers surveyed spent more than $1000 for insecticides while 27.5% of the producers spent nothing on insecticides in 1992 (Table 12).

Table 12: Cost of insecticides used (65 records)a

Cost# of records% of records
$0 22 27.5
$10-49 6 7.5
$50-99 7 8.8
$100-299 13 16.3
$300-499 6 7.5
$700-999 6 7.5
$1000-1999 6 7.5
$2000-3999 5 6.3
over $6000 5 6.3
not specified 4 5.0

aIncludes 9 producers under poultry contract.

Two-thirds (57 out of 80) of the producers indicated that they used some other control method, either in addition to or instead of insecticides. The most common of these methods was manure management (80.0%, Table 13). One producer indicated that "manure management will be our only method to control flies in 1993." This seems to be the preferred method of Pennsylvania producers, while New York producers are equally as inclined to use fly ribbons and sticky paper. New York producers also used baits and parasites/predators more often than those in Pennsylvania. One New York producer said "we use wasps from IPM labs for flies and try not to use any insecticides," while a Pennsylvania producer said, "I have used parasites about 3 years ago and they were not satisfactory."

Table 12: Alternative methods used to control insect pests (80 records)

Alternative# of NY responses# of PA responses# of total responses% of total records
Manure management 12 36 48 60.0
Sanitation 9 21 30 37.5
Not specified 3 17 20 25.0
Baited traps 7 10 17 21.3
Fly ribbons, etc. 11 3 14 17.5
Parasites/predators 6 2 8 10.0
Other 1 3 4 5.0
None 2 1 3 3.8
Electronic bug killers 2 0 2 2.5


Over three-quarters of the producers used "presence of pests based on scouting" as the criteria on which they decide whether or not to use pesticides (Table 14). This was followed by "treat on a routine schedule" (32.8%) and "personal discomfort" (21.9%). New York producers used "presence of pest" most often, followed by "treat on routine schedule," "personal discomfort," "animal discomfort" and "reduced performance" equally. Less than 10% of Pennsylvania producers used "animal discomfort," or "reduced performance" as a criteria for the application of pesticides. Poultry producers chose which pesticide to use based on past successes (52.2%).

Table 13: Criteria used to decide whether or not to use pesticides (64 records)

Criteria# of responses% of records
Presence of pests based on scouting 53 82.8
Treat on a routine schedule 21 32.8
Personal discomfort 14 21.9
Animal discomfort 10 15.6
Suggestion from veterinarian or other professional 9 14.1
Reduced performance (egg production, etc.) 6 9.4
Othera 6 9.4
Suggestion of chemical salesperson 6 9.4
Suggestion from Cooperative Extension agent/specialist 6 9.4
Complaints/concerns from neighbors 5 7.8
Advice of other farmers 2 3.1

aIncludes: product safety and physical damage to buildings, contractor decides, and spary when needed for results before problems occur.


In 1988, Ackerman and Park conducted a survey of the New York poultry industry. Their survey encompassed 104 farms with a total of 7.7 million birds. The present survey, although covering only three-quarters as many farms, encompassed 9 million birds. In 1988, as in 1992, flies were reported as being the primary problem on poultry farms. Litter beetles were second in importance in 1988. In contrast, the second most important problem in 1992 was rodents, and in many instances, was as big a problem as flies. Litter beetles, although the third most important pest problem, were not considered a problem by at least one-thrid of the producers surveyed.

Poultry producers seem to be using as little pesticide as possible, and either combine their chemicals with, or use only cultural or biological control. Only 15% of the producers surveyed used herbicides, with only 220 lbs. of herbicide active ingredient being applied by New York and Pennsylvania poultry producers. Rodenticides, applied by about 80% of producers surveyed, were applied at a rate of about 0.05 lbs. active ingredient per application. The state of California, which ranks in the top 10 states in poultry production, reported rodenticide use at about 0.10 lbs. active ingredient per application (Pesticide Use Report Annual 1990); that is twice as much as was used in New York and Pennsylvania in this survey. Cats, and/or traps were used as a measure of rodent control by almost every single producer surveyed.

Insecticide applications were about the same as those in California. California producers used approximately 24.75 lbs. active ingredient per application, while New York and Pennsylvanian producers used approximately 22.4 lbs. active ingredient per application. Eighty percent of New York and Pennsylvania producers indicated they used some sort of manure management for fly control. Manure management, as part of an integrated fly control program, has been shown to give excellent fly control (Axtell, 1970), with 5 times less insecticide used and 2.5 times less person-hours per season as required from larviciding (Axtell, 1970). Only 8.8% of those producers surveyed use larvicides (manure treatment). Also, in a good manure management program, manure is best left undisturbed throughout the warm months when fly breeding may occur, and removed once very early in the spring before flies appear. This survey indicates that 52% of producers are removing manure semi- annually, hopefully in the spring, and after fly season is over.

Weekly releases of parasites have shown significant reduction in house fly populations on poultry farms (Rutz and Axtell, 1981). Although only 13.3% used parasites in this survey, it is more than the 2.2% of dairy producers that used parasites in 1991 (Partridge, Smith and Rutz, 1992). Most poultry producers appear to be genuinely interested in using integrated pest management techniques.

This survey confirmed the existence of a severe pesticide resistance problem. Poultry producers are further hampered by the loss of pesticides that would allow effective rotation for resistance management. This situation only promises to become more severe in the years ahead.


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