PepsiCo FAB project: Gamebird feeder research

Written by Rachael Hustler, Scottish Lowlands placement student

It’s been a busy start to the new year for the Scottish Lowlands research team. We’ve spent the last few weeks setting up gamebird feeders to carry out research into supplementary winter feeding for farmland birds. Myself and the other Scottish placement students have been out in the field building new tripod gamebird feeders, which will be monitored alongside standard gamebird feeders to compare any differences in species usage.

Building tripod feedersPhotos showing the process of building the new tripod gamebird feeders. Photo credits: K Goodman

Supplementary winter feeding of gamebirds is a management tool used to provide additional food during the ‘hungry gap’. Reduced food availability in the winter has been linked with lower survival rates, and breeding success the following year and research shows supplementary feeding can help mitigate this.

This new gamebird feeder consists of a wooden tripod from which a metal bucket is attached to hang freely. Slots cut in the bottom of the bucket allow the birds to access the grain. This differs from a traditional feeder which is a plastic barrel, with a spiral dispenser, securely attached to wooden legs. Both feeders have been filled with an enhanced gamebird mix. This is mostly wheat but also contains millet, sunflower and flax seeds. Although previously wheat has solely been used, we hope this added variety will provide additional supplementation for other farmland birds, that we know also benefit from gamebird feeders.

Feeder designsLeft photo shows the traditional feeder and right tripod feeder design. Photo credit: R Hustler

The aim of this research is to evaluate whether the features of this new design can improve the efficiency of supplementary winter bird feeding. To reduce the use of feeders by non-target species, such as rats and deer but also still be accessible for target species such as songbirds and grey partridges.

These feeders are being monitored on all six farms involved in the PepsiCo FAB project over the next couple of months. We look forward to sharing the results!



at 11:44 on 27/02/2024 by Brian W P Kaye

Agree about moving, important to be done easily by one person. Our own feelings are that spirals and not the best. we now are switching to game and country wright feeder but also surround the whole feeder with a 1.2x1.2 metre square of BRC mesh to keep deer off. most useful work however, thank you

Tripod feeder

at 11:36 on 27/02/2024 by Duncan Morrison

The main advantage of this metal feeder is that going by my own experience it will prevent squirrels and badgers from destroying them more so grey squirrels who constantly chew threw the plastic barrels and destroy them,

Game Feeders

at 13:28 on 21/02/2024 by Colin Johnston

It will be interesting to see how the new feeders work. The do look a bit clumsy and a 2 man job to move them. I'm guess the slots cut in the base of the steel drum are to reduce rat waste. Good luck with your research!

Bird feeders

at 11:23 on 21/02/2024 by Nick vZ

Agree with all the above comments. The devil is in the detail. The type of nozzle (spring or holes. Height from the ground v important for RLP's and pheasants. 350+mm 4 pheasants stops rats but they will still feed spilled grain on the ground. They will feed directly from partridge feeders. Keep moving feeders (no more than 10M each week to keep clean ground) and trapping the rats. Have feeders in stations of at least 4 - 5 feeders. This work was done by Ian McCall d(irector Scotland and senior advisor) 40 years ago. Actually one of the best but most labour intensive feeders is the sandwich feeder. It is rabbit net stretched over 6 posts to make the roof od a tent. onto that is laced a good thick layer of straw. into that is put grain, more straw and more grain in layers. Another layer of rabbit net is then put over the top and fastened down to keep it all in place. Keeps the pheasants amused for hours! I've never tried it but corn or oats in sheaves would also do well in this scenario.

Tripod feeders

at 9:06 on 21/02/2024 by J slater

More difficult to move to fresh ground. More sheep netting needed to keep deer away. More difficult to fill. Will blow on a strong wind and knock excess seed out. Needs more timber therefore more ££. Unprotected the deer will have a great party every night!

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