RUTGERS | New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station

Bird Control on Dairy Farms
D.Lee, C.Stanczyk, and J.Berkowitz
County Extension Department Head and County Agricultural Agent; Agricultural Program Assistant Cooperative Extension on Salem County, Rutgers University





Birds can have a negative impact on the profitability of a dairy farm. A single European Starling can consume up to 4 oz. of feed a day. A group of 10,000 European Starlings could consume as much as 1.25 tons of feed from a dairy farm in one day. With the rising price of feed this equals hundreds of dollars in revenue lost in a single day just from lost feed. Birds often consume the more expensive components in the ration such as protein pellets or grain and seldom consume the roughage. Another concern is the potential for disease transmission. Since birds often travel from one farm to the next, they pose a threat to farm biosecurity. Birds can carry diseases that include viral diseases such as meningitis and seven different forms of encephalitis; bacterial diseases such as erysipeloid, salmonellosis, paratyphoid, Pasteurellosis, and Listeriosis; mycotic (fungal) diseases such as aspergillosis, blastomycosis, candidiasis, cryptococcosis, histoplasmosis, and sarcosporidiosis; protozoal diseases such as American trypansomiasis and toxoplasmosis; and rickettsial/chlamydial diseases such as chlamydiosis and Q fever1. As many as 65 different diseases transmittable to humans or domestic animals have been associated with pigeons, European starlings, and house sparrows. It is estimated that overall bird populations cause an annual loss of $100 million to U.S. agriculture.

1 Portions reproduced from the following references
“Reducing Pigeon, European Starling, Common Grackle, Brown-headed Cowbird and House Sparrow Damage through an Integrated Wildlife Damage Management Program in Pennsylvania”

Bird Gard Success Story

Ted Fox milks around 220 cows and has been fighting an ongoing battle with birds on his farm. He has tried numerous methods to limit and/or eliminate the disturbance from the birds that he has experienced. On Ted’s farm, the starlings, sparrows, brown headed cowbirds and other species would roost in large trees nearby the cow barns and swoop in to the feeding areas to get their fill of grain out of the cows rations. These same birds would sit on overhead rafters and consequently leave manure along the backs of feeding cows as well as leave manure in the feed itself. Ted had previously employed many other methods of bird control including using plastic mesh netting as an exclusion device to keep birds out of the barn rafters as well as employing USDA-APHIS to administer treated baits to kill the nuisance birds. All of these methods had some efficacy but it was mostly short term. Eventually, the birds found ways into the rafters that were uninhibited by the mesh netting. Also, the treatments administered by USDA-APHIS were thorough at first, but birds from neighboring farms found their way to Ted’s once his “regular customers” were eliminated. Ted did not get the results that he wanted until he employed the use of a Bird Gard System. Using the species appropriate chip, Ted was able to clear his barnyard of birds immediately and keeping the birds out remained a consistent result. “Placing a Bird Gard system on my operation was simple, cost efficient and effective beyond my expectations!”

Given that wild birds can harbor these bacteria, our objective in this study was to determine the potential role that European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris), a frequent nuisance pest on dairy farms, have in the transmission of E. coli O157 among dairy farms. Our ultimate goal is to determine whether control of these pests on farms would likely have positive effects on food safety. This information will provide immediate and tangible benefits to food producers, the public, and the public health infrastructure. Reducing the carriage of foodborne pathogens, even by small amounts, would have significant impacts, both on public health and on the economy. For example, the estimated annual cost of illnesses caused by E. coli O157 and other Shiga toxin-producing E. coli, is approximately $1 billion (USDA 2004), and the average cost of E. coli O157 alone to the cattle industry exceeds $267 million annually (NCBA 2004).

Problem Species

Bird_Gard_Electronic_Bird_Repellent_Problem_SpeciesEuropean Starling – Starling droppings may cause components of steel buildings to degrade. A potential health risk arises from soil enriched with starling droppings, which can promote fungal growth and lead to diseases. The bird has an excellent memory for locating food and its digestive system adapts quickly to major dietary changes.
Common Grackle – The Common Grackle inhabits croplands, fields, parks, lawns, and open woodland. The grackle has an extremely varied diet, which includes insects, sprouting and ripened grains, seeds, and fruits. These birds form large flocks during migration and in winter roosts and often form breeding colonies.
Pigeons – Pigeons are highly dependent on humans to provide them with food and sites for roosting, loafing, and nesting. They are commonly found around city buildings, bridges, parks, farm yards, grain elevators, feed mills, and other manmade structures. Although pigeons are primarily grain and seed eaters, they will readily feed on garbage, livestock manure, spilled grains, insects, and any other available bits of food.
Brown Headed Cowbird – Brown Headed Cowbirds are common throughout the United States and often is found near livestock. This bird inhabits agricultural land, fields, woodland edges, and suburban areas. The preferred food of brown-headed cowbird includes: insects, small fruits, wild seeds, grain.
House Sparrow – House sparrows are found in nearly every habitat except dense forest, alpine, and desert environments. They prefer human-altered habitats, and are abundant on farms and in cities and suburbs.


Electronic Bird Control

A built in microprocessor continually randomizes the order the sounds play, the time and the relative pitch of each bird sound to give the impression many birds are in distress in the protected area.  This random technology prevents the birds from becoming habituated and keeps them out of the berry patch all the way through harvest.

Which Bird Gard Should I Buy?

Bird Gard has a variety of products to repel birds from one acre to thousands of acres. Choosing the right one depends on a number of factors. Compare Bird Gard’s bird control units or you can also contact a live human using the information below.

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