DAIRY farmers near Oswestry have shelled out a hefty £30,000 to help fend off the threat of bird invasions - and reckon the raids have got so bad the measures will pay for themselves in just two months.

The initiative was launched after by Nantgoch Farm, near Llangedwyn, endured continual bird raids on their grain and maize reserves.

Farm owners, the Jones family, chose to safeguard the cattle fare primarily with welded wire mesh panels.


Previously, at the height of starling swarm from October to March, between 50,000 to 100,000 birds were helping themselves to four tonnes of feed each day.

This was costing the farm £15,000 a month, and the starlings weren't just eating into profits, but also milk production.

Bryn Jones, who farms with his wife, Bev, and son, Mathew, told farmers attending a recent Farming Connect open event at Nantgoch that the money spent so far on measures to deter starlings had been a very worthwhile investment.

He said: “It is a lot of money to find and we still have another 20 per cent of the buildings to do but it is the only way we can protect the feed and the cows from the infestation.

“It isn’t going to be easy but it is something we are going to have to do.”

The pesky birds caused a knock-on decline in milk yield by around two litres per cow daily.

This had the respective after-effect of reduced energy, fertility and overall productivity amongst the cows.

Other bird defence measures adopted include the installation of cage-like canopies covering feed passages around buildings which can be raised whenever the feed truck is depositing food.

Veterinarian, Rob Edwards, presented graphs at a recent local farming event showing monthly milk yield dips coinciding with periods of starling infestations.

A maximum reduction of 4.4 per cent in Energy Corrected Milk (ECM) was registered in these months.

Nantgoch management’s next project is shielding the maize silos during periods of inactivity.

There are also plans to discourage badgers, carriers of bovine TB, from intruding.

Edwards suggests using cameras as an effective way of monitoring badger presence around the farmyard and thus better focus defences.

The Jones’ announced that his long-term plans include moving back to a DCAB system to economise on a suitable yet costly calcium binder designed to address milk fever and poor colostrum quality.