Controlling Nuisance Birds - They Eat Half Their Body Weight

Keeping feed costs down may start at pest control - one thousand starlings can eat one hundred pounds of grain daily.
calendar icon 11 February 2015
clock icon 2 minute read

The European Starling is a nonnative bird in the United States. Since it is nonnative, lethal control measures are available to producers, writes a Virginia Cooperative Extension Agent.

Jeremy Daubert, Rockingham County, says Starlings are abundant year round, but are often only a problem in the winter.

Cold weather makes birds hungry and problematic

During a year like our last one, when the weather is particularly cold and the ground is snow covered these birds are looking for convenient food sources. Unfortunately, cattle feeding areas provide these sources. Starlings can eat 50 per cent of their bodyweight in feed a day. One thousand birds can easily consume 100 pounds of grain in a day.

Many producers have tried using shotguns, pyrotechnics, or just closing the barns up, but these methods have not proven to be very effective for these elusive birds. Hawks are natural predators to Starlings—but attracting them to reside near the dairy can be problematic.

The US Department of Agriculture offers baiting services for farmers, this can be effective, but has a significant cost. In Virginia, a pesticide is available for farmers to purchase with a private pesticide license.

This chemical comes premixed and ready to use. Check with your local coop or chemical suppliers for prices and availability in your area.

Before you use this chemical make sure that no protected birds will have access to the bait as it will kill most types of birds or fowl.

"When the
weather is particularly cold and the ground
is snow covered these birds are looking for
convenient food sources."

The chemical does not have a significant effect on cattle or other animals around the farm. To effectively use the pesticide you first need to pre-bait the birds for about a week with something palatable like dog food or energy pellets.

The best time to put the bait out is in the morning when the ground is frozen or snow covered. It is a good idea to notify any close neighbours of your plans so it won’t come as a surprise if they find dead birds on their property.

If this winter proves to be extremely cold it is likely that these starlings will be a problem for many dairy farms again this year.

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