Stories and articles for pest control businesses

04 November 2020

Opportunity to support Church Farm pest control training centre

Steve Havers, Church Farm's owner, is looking for a new tenant at the famous pest management training and product testing facility.


In 2015, PelGar leased the site for a 5-year period and established a new suite of insectaries, test rooms and offices.

But after a period of extensive product testing, PelGar have now decided to take their research in-house at their Alton site.

Church Farm are now seeking a new company, or consortium, which would be interested in the facility.

A short history of Church Farm

Following the termination of a two-year period assessing the overall effectiveness of a novel rodenticide, it was apparent that there were few independent facilities which offered the opportunity for innovators to have new products evaluated at reasonable cost.

The opportunity occurred in 2003 to establish such a site in North Hampshire by refurbishing two redundant poultry houses.

The main building initially held one meeting room, a small kitchen area, several offices and, importantly, a large pen (ca. 110sq m) housing free-roaming Norway rats and a smaller (ca 90sq m) for House mice.

Each pen was equipped with food, water, harbourage, and objects (such as items of old furniture) for the animals to explore. A small population of Ship rats are held in a separate area.

Almost immediately a distribution company (Essex Rodent Control, later to become SX Environmental, and now Pelsis) realised the site’s potential as a training venue, and the first session was held in October 2003 for Eagle Pest Control.

One-day courses on rodent biology, behaviour and control continued and, following the establishment of a small insectary, were joined by day sessions on public health insects.

The first training day for Rentokil was held in January 2008, and several scenario rooms were prepared at their suggestion; others followed, and currently there is a domestic kitchen, hotel bedroom, an office, a loft, a farm store, and a small shop.

An additional bedroom and a bathroom – where ‘deaths’ have occurred - are available for the training of specialist cleaning companies.

The total number of training days per year increased from 5 in 2003 to 160 in 2015, with courses being held for CRRU, RSPH Levels 2, 3 and 4, aluminium phosphide use (the land around the buildings being used for dummy treatments) and air rifle instruction using the in-house range.

Fifteen minutes of fame

Apart from the more formal training days for farmers, PCOs and EHOs, the facility has been used for more corporate occasions, with visits made from such companies as Marks & Spencer, Tesco, JD Wetherspoons and The Restaurant Group. Over forty Borough, District, and County authorities have sent representatives over the years.

The rodent pens have even attracted attention from a number of film companies: National Geographic (Pests from Hell), BBC (One Life), CH4 (The Property Programme & How clean is your house?), RTE (The Exterminators), ITV (Rise of the Super Rat); DEFRA, and a Canadian film crew, have also visited the site.

The original perception of a site offering product assessment and development has certainly not been neglected, and a number of trials have been undertaken over the years varying from the consideration of chemical and ultrasonic repellents and bait box design to investigations of food contamination and pest damage.

Owner Steve is excited for this new chapter in Church Farm's history, saying:

"It's a fantastic opportunity for a business or group to invest in a facility that is such an asset to the pest management industry. 

"It would be a shame for the UK's pest sector to lose Church Farm, so we're keen to see the great work here continue with the help of interested parties."


If you're interested in learning more about Church Farm and leasing the site, get in touch with BPCA.

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