Hopper Appeal

Winter feeding saves the lives of game and songbirds. But almost half the grain is wasted on rodents, corvids, squirrels, deer and even a turkey!

Help fund research to find the optimum hopper

Losing 49% of the grain in gamebird feed hoppers to other unwanted species is a bit like sitting down to dinner with a hungry family and feeding half of it to the dog!

Expensive, time consuming and a terrible waste.

HoppergreysYet research at our Allerton Project shows that using feed hoppers more than doubles the number of farmland birds. And now that winter feeding is an option in the Entry Level Stewardship scheme, it’s likely that more farmers and gamekeepers will use feed bins or hoppers. That’s great for game and songbirds, but it also means more food wasted.

A recent Trust study of 69,000 motion-sensor photographs at feeder sites in Oxfordshire and Hampshire suggests that almost half the grain was consumed by rats, squirrels and other species.

But what if the waste could be eliminated? With grain now at £152 a tonne, every kilo counts and even a partial reduction in loss would be a money-saver.

HopperratsIt’s a question that came up again and again at the Game Fair. And to answer it, the Trust’s scientists are applying to feed hoppers the same determined, detailed thinking that invented the breakaway fox snare.

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The optimum hopper. Less waste, less cost, more conservation.

The search for the optimum hopper will result in providing gamekeepers and farmers the right hopper design, sited in the right locations, moved at the right time, for the right birds on their land. It may mean that those hoppers or bins that children acting as beaters bang on, or that you see in the woods or by the tracks in fields, will be a thing of the past.

HoppermeshNo longer will deer learn how to get the lid off and eat the contents. No longer would squirrels figure out the spring mechanism, or an escapee from a turkey farm gobble up the feed meant for game and songbirds.

With the optimum hoppers, a gamekeeper or farmer could have the cost of feed reduced or at least under control. Feed is second highest of the variable costs of running a shoot – 26% of costs or £2.05 per bird put down.

With your help, research will find the answer

We urgently need to find a practical, proven solution to reducing or eliminating feed waste. There are three elements to the research.

  1. Develop new winter food-hopper prototypes.
  2. Fit them with motion-sensor cameras and get to the field-test sites.
  3. Study every image triggered by birds or other species using the hopper – this runs into the thousands.

The sooner we find the optimum combinations of hopper design, location, movement for different types of birds, the sooner costs waste, cost, time, effort and birds’ lives will be saved.

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Here’s what you can do

• £58 buys the scientific time to monitor a day’s images to check which species of birds and mammals have been using hoppers at a particular site.

• £162 covers the cost of capturing, downloading and tagging 500 images, which will provide a fundamental insight into the performance of hoppers

• £350 will pay for a motion-sensing camera to capture images at one location throughout the research project. This technology enables us to monitor any activity, 24 hours a day.

HoppercarlosThe problem of birds struggling to find food in the winter has contributed to a 70% decline in farmland birds since 1970. Supplementary feeding during the winter increases bird numbers by more than half.

But unless the waste issue is tackled, the benefits of feeding could be undermined by the cost, time and effort of losing precious grain to rats, squirrels and other species.

Please help now and support this important research to find the ultimate game and songbird feed hopper.

Give to the Hopper Appeal >

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