Provide supplementary winter food for birds

Why farmland birds want additional meals in winter

Spreading seed is a straightforward and efficient method to enhance the supply of meals for farmland birds.

To keep up or enhance hen populations, you additionally must present birds with year-round meals sources. 

When to begin spreading seed

Begin spreading seed when different seed sources in your farm begin to grow to be depleted. When this occurs is determined by:

  • the quantity of pure and sown seed accessible within the autumn
  • the variety of birds
  • how harsh the climate is

As a information, unfold seed from December by way of to April.

Selecting acceptable feeding websites

It’s best to unfold seed at a couple of web site to extend availability and supply seed for species that choose to feed in several places. For instance:

  • tree sparrows and yellowhammers wish to have close by cowl, akin to a hedge
  • corn buntings choose websites subsequent to fences or ditches and with vantage factors to perch and scan for predators

Prime up the seed at every web site on completely different days to ensure there may be all the time some seed accessible.

Unfold seed on agency, free-draining areas of naked floor or brief vegetation to make it straightforward for birds to seek out. For those who can not simply see the seeds then the vegetation is simply too lengthy.

Appropriate areas embody:

  • naked or thinly vegetated farm tracks in quiet areas
  • hard-standing areas away from farmyards, akin to a beet pad
  • winter hen meals plots
  • overwinter stubble
  • cultivated fallow areas
  • frequently mown grass margins with brief vegetation

This might be an excellent basic seed combine acceptable for a spread of farmland birds.

Seed Price
Wheat 50%
Bare oats 20%
Oilseed rape 10%
White millet 10%
Purple millet 5%
Canary seed or sunflower hearts 5%

You need to use natural seed in case you farm organically or are changing to natural farming. If you wish to use non-organic seed, you’ll want approval out of your natural certification physique.

Adapting the seed combine

Completely different species choose feeding on completely different seeds, relying on issues like beak measurement and the seed’s dietary worth. You may adapt the seed combine to offer meals for sure species if you realize they’re in your space.

When adapting the really helpful seed combine, be sure that:

  • you embody no less than 2 cereals and three small-seeded crops
  • small-seeded crops make up no less than 30% of the combination by weight
  • you keep away from maize or tic beans as they entice pests and birds choose different seeds

Don’t use tailings (small seeds faraway from the harvested crop) as their dietary worth varies drastically.

Bigger buntings like yellowhammers choose cereals, so you may add barley or triticale (a hybrid cross between wheat and rye) to the really helpful seed combine.

Finches choose smaller, oily seeds. You might enhance the proportions of those by including some linseed or mustard seed.

Some species have seen a better decline in populations than others so it’s particularly worthwhile altering your seed combine to go well with these. For instance:

  • corn bunting feed primarily on wheat with smaller quantities of bare oats and barley
  • for tree sparrows, enhance the quantity of pink millet and sunflower hearts
  • for gray partridge, enhance the proportion of cereals in your seed combine

How a lot to unfold

Attempt to all the time have meals accessible at your feeding websites.

To begin with, unfold round 25kg of seed as soon as per week at every feeding web site. Verify frequently and modify how typically you feed or the quantity you employ, to match what the birds want.

Birds want extra seed during times of chilly climate, significantly if different meals sources are unavailable attributable to frost or snow.

There shouldn’t be giant quantities of seed left uneaten. For those who see this, cease feeding for no less than per week and decrease the quantity of seed you unfold.

The best way to unfold the seed successfully

Goal for a fair unfold of seed both by hand or utilizing gear, akin to a clear slug pellet spreader or purpose-built spreader.

To discourage pests like rats and scale back the chance of illness transmission between birds at your feeding websites:

  • spin or scatter seed solely
  • don’t use hoppers and keep away from creating piles or lengthy trails of seed
  • transfer feeding websites yearly, to scale back pathogen build-up

You may transfer feeding websites throughout the identical winter, however not more than 50 metres every time.

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