By Tim Furbank, Director at Oakbank Game & Conservation
The months of December to March provide the leanest pickings for our farmland birds. Wild bird seed mixes and over-winter stubbles provide some food but the best way to help farmland birds through the winter is by supplementary feeding.
Under ELS/HLS and the new Countryside Stewardship Scheme there is funding available to help cover the cost of both providing a regular food source for the birds in these difficult months and recording where, when and how much you have provided.
The majority of agreements state that 65% of the mix should be wheat (not tailings) and oilseed rape, with 35% small seeds such as millet, canary seed, linseed, sunflower hearts and nyger (to name a few). The reasoning behind this is that whilst many graniverous farmland birds will happily eat wheat some of them prefer smaller seeds such as rape and linseed and the varying protein/oil composition of different seeds will deliver more nutritional benefits.
Many of our customers use their own wheat and oilseed rape seed but come to us to supply the small seed mix, whilst others want us to supply the entire mix as the paperwork is more straightforward!
A standard mix including 65% wheat and rape and 35% small seeds can vary in cost between £350-£450/tonne depending on the composition of the small seed mix, whilst a small seed mix without the wheat and rape might vary between £470 and £650/tonne.
Under stewardship you need to feed these mixes next to wild bird seed mixes or over winter stubbles i.e. areas where farmland birds are likely to have been feeding already. You can either trail feed along adjacent tracks or feed through feeders or a combination of both.
Even if you aren’t in stewardship, feeding a variety of seeds in your game covers rather than just wheat will make a big difference to your farmland birds.
As well as seeds, many of our farmland birds rely of fruit from well-managed hedgerows to sustain them through the winter. If you are thinking of gapping up an old hedgerow or planting a new one we supply high quality, UK grown, hedging plants as well! We can also help you with capital grant applications for hedgerow and woodland management.
For more information about supplementary feeding, hedge plants and grants or to get a quote for a bespoke mix please contact Oakbank on 01480 890686 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also visit our website here.
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