Large flocks of starlings can cost dairy farmers a lot of money. The flocks are attracted to the cattle feed. Apart from eating all the best bits, the birds' droppings land on the food, the cattle's water supply and the cattle themselves.
It's estimated that starlings can cause a drop in milk yield per cow of one litre per day. As the flocks are usually in residence from late October to February, this adds up to a significant drop in milk production.
Enter Artemis the sparrowhawk. I'm licenced by Rural England to use her to scare off the starlings. She doesn't even have to catch any, just scare them away. If we are called in early enough, we can convince the starlings that there are too many resident predators around a particular farm and so they relocate elsewhere. Unlike any wild birds of prey, Artemis will not just catch one starling, eat it and then call it a day. If she catches one, I take it off her and we start again. Frustrating for her, but effective at chasing away the pests.
A report by the Dairy Company recommends various options available to dairy farmers to reduce losses by starlings. It states:
"The skilled use of an experienced bird will act as a good deterrent".
Other measures may be more effective but may be much more difficult to achieve, e.g. totally enclosing all cattle feed, making entry to the dairy sheds impossible for starlings, employing staff as human scarecrows etc.
Read the report ( printed 11.10.12) here: http://www.dairyco.org.uk/technical-information/feeding/managing-starlings-on-farm/
Another, report (published November 2013) here,, http://www.dairyco.org.uk/resources-library/technical-information/feeding/starling-control-on-dairy-farms-q-a-summary/#.UoFJ_Pm-1cY This looks in more detail at alternative methods of starling control and makes the point that the use of properly trained hawks by people who know what they are doing ( e.g. ME) is one of the most cost-effective and efficient methods.
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