The Impact of Birds on the Dairy Industry

Dec 15, 2020

For better and for worse, birds are an important part of agriculture. They eat many insect pests, provide rodent control, and even pollinate some flowers. They also cause a lot of damage by consuming crops and feed and spreading diseases to livestock. For farmers, the risks of certain bird populations often outweigh the benefits. This is especially true in the dairy industry.

How Birds Impact the Dairy Industry

You may be wondering how birds that don’t eat cattle or dairy products can cause such problems that impact an entire industry. Simply put, both birds and cattle eat the same thing, and both birds and cattle poop. That creates competition for food and an increased risk for disease spread.

The common Rock Dove, a.k.a. the pigeon, and the European Starling are both invasive, nuisance birds not native to our area, or even to the U.S. These birds are well adapted to life with humans and are regular pests in agricultural fields of every variety. These birds are incredibly adaptive and intelligent and managing these species can require creative and innovative solutions.

How Birds Impact the Dairy Industry How Birds Impact the Dairy Industry

Pigeons and starlings are the primary culprits.

Both starlings and pigeons will feed voraciously on the grain feed prepared for dairy cattle, congregating in flocks by the thousands to tens of thousands. Just 1,000 starlings can eat 40 pounds of feed per day and cost farmers an average of $55 per cow. When you have thousands of cows, that adds up quickly, leaving farmers to foot a bill for these uninvited guests that can reach millions of dollars annually. These birds are also healthy eaters, picking out the most nutritious part of the feed and leaving cattle with nutritional deficits that reduce milk production and impact their health. The consequences include higher milk prices.

How Birds Impact the Dairy Industry

Birds in the rafters feed voraciously on grain feed, leaving behind a mess and a nutritional deficit for cattle.

Birds can also spread disease. Bird metabolisms are designed to keep them light, so food is processed quickly, creating a lot of waste that drops into cattle food and water. With thousands of birds, the health risks multiply quickly. Johne’s Disease, a wasting disease closely related to tuberculosis, along with illnesses caused by salmonella, and E.coli, can spread to cows from birds.

How Birds Impact the Dairy Industry How Birds Impact the Dairy Industry

Poop everywhere, but there are solutions like this autonomic laser system!

Migratory Bird Management can help. We offer fully integrated bird management programs for agricultural clients. With methods that that include laser harassment, netting, predatory bird nest boxes, and more, our biologists and agricultural experts provide cost-effective bird management plans. Take the first step toward solving your bird issues by clicking the link below.

How Birds Impact the Dairy Industry

Installing a laser system in the barn keeps the birds out of the rafters and away from feed.

Contact us to learn more about birds and their effect on the dairy industry