Management of starlings on farm

Localised high populations can be seen on many dairy farms during the winter months, causing financial loss, as well as faecal contamination of feed, buildings and equipment.

Consumption of cattle feed by birds can reduce milk output and increase the cost of winter rations fed to cows. This is due to the selective nature of starling feeding activity, whereby they only eat part of the fed ration, eg maize grains.

A DairyCo-funded study, carried out in Somerset during winter 2011/12 showed that the average daily cost of starlings across a sample of 11 farms, was £96 per 100 cows, this increased to £106 per 100 cows in 2012/13. This included the value of feed lost and the calculated loss of milk from reduced feed quality.

Applying preventive measures (examples are provided in the downloadable document) early in the migration period (as the birds collect at the roosts in November) is key in preventing a starling problem becoming established.

Implementing exclusion measures and site modification prior to the problem becoming out of hand can be very effective but this will depend on the degree of exclusion which can be achieved. A combination of techniques is considered more effective than when methods are applied in isolation.