Starling season has just begun, with the birds arriving in the UK between October and November, and staying for five months or so – something that farmers all over the country are probably all too aware of right now.

These birds can pass on salmonella, E.coli, paratuberculosis and campylobacter to livestock, so farmers do need to be on their guard and do all they can to prevent their animals from coming into contact with them.

You might want to try adding a garlic-based feed extract to food, as new research from Bridgwater College Farm has found that the polysulphides in this kind of extract can irritate these birds’ stomachs. After a week or so, they associate the smell of the extract with the stomach irritation and will avoid it, according to Farmers Weekly.

Head of agricultural innovation Ian Tremain advised famers to add the granular extract to total mixed rations daily and mix it in thoroughly. Be aware, however, that milk taint can happen if the dosage goes above 70g a day, he reminded them.

Last month (October), trainee feed formulator at Mole Valley Farmers Kerensa Hawkey found while researching her University of Nottingham dissertation that starlings ate between 18 and 42 per cent of ration samples in a study she conducted, with evidence there to suggest the birds were also picking out the protein and cereal components.

The loss in energy and protein reached 0.97p a cow per day, with the loss of wheat and soya in a herd of 240 cows over a 180-day period coming to more than £40,000. As such, starling-proofing your feeding areas may well be a good idea.

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