How Barn Cats Can Prevent Fires

Ginger cat lying by a barn

Seven Tips to Prevent Critters from Nesting in Your Equipment

Spring is just around the corner! It’s time for farmers to wake up their farm machinery and prepare for the planting season. It’s important to exercise caution however, as starting equipment after a long winter of inactivity can lead to potential fires from electric short circuits and engines overheating. 

Avoid critters creeping into your farm equipment

To avoid any unwanted surprises, it's important to take preventative measures to keep critters from moving into your farm equipment. Engine compartments make excellent homes for mice and birds by fulfilling their basic needs of warmth and shelter. Bonus: it’s also full of fun mouse activities, like chewing on wires. 

Once they’ve set up house, they can cause thousands of dollars of damage to your equipment’s electrical system. Repairing the damage is not only costly, but it can also cause delays in getting your equipment up and running for the planting season.

Stop creatures from nesting in your equipment

There are several measures you can take to protect your equipment and prevent losses to your farm.

  • If you are storing your equipment in a covered structure, prevent entry of the pests in the first place by keeping equipment shed doors and windows closed. Seal any holes and other points of entry, keep grass trimmed back from your barns and outbuildings, and store equipment with the hood open
  • Place rodent traps in and around the shed. But do not use “bait” traps on board the tractor itself as they will attract rodents
  • Get a good old fashioned barn cat (we’re partial to the orange, striped variety)
  • Use certain scents to repel rodents. Dryer sheets, mothballs, and peppermint oil are just a few that could deter pests from setting up house in your equipment. The stronger the smell, the better. You may need to replace the scent regularly throughout the winter months for it to be effective
  • Seal openings to air intakes with course steel wool or crumpled chicken wire. Remember to REMOVE it in the spring before starting the machinery!
  • Leave tractor engine hoods OPEN. Mice like to find dark, hidden places to nest - not wide-open engine bays
  • Start equipment routinely throughout the winter so you can avoid any unpleasant surprises in the spring

Before starting equipment

Thoroughly inspect and clean air filter intake systems along with exhaust vents and any other place a rodent could make a nest

Periodically reassess your insurance protection

In addition to preventative measures, there are also insurance coverages that can help protect your farm. If you are insured with Indiana Farmers Insurance, there may be coverage for damage caused by pests with our Farm Machinery Special coverage form. Your agent can tailor coverage to help you protect your farm.


The information presented in this document is for informational and educational purposes only. It is intended to assist individuals, farmers, and business owners in identifying common hazards/risks and considering proactive loss prevention or loss mitigation actions. For information related to specific loss hazards, please contact your insurance agent.

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