Bovine-avian interactions on dairies: improving cow welfare and farm economic stability by implementing effective and sustainable pest bird deterrence methods
The first year of this project focused on recruitment, economic survey design, and the collection of wild bird count data on dairies. The research team recruited: 1) dairy farms for participation in the on-farm studies; 2) a M.S. student to co-lead the animal behavior/welfare study; and 3) a research technician to assist with on-farm data collection. The economic survey for this project was created and is pending approval from the Institutional Review Board. Four dairies have been enrolled into the animal behavior/welfare study for this project and video cameras are currently being installed on these farms. Wild bird count data was collected at eleven dairies on a weekly basis during Fall 2016. The number of wild birds (including native raptors), the species of these birds, and the number of night roosts present were recorded by direct observations at sunrise and sunset. These counts showed that the number of wild birds present on dairies greatly increased as the environmental temperatures began to decrease during the season. Further analyses are underway to determine whether the presence of native raptors influenced the number of prey birds and night roosts present on these dairies.
The objectives for Year 1 were:
- Survey producers and identify cooperators for field research. The economic survey was created and will be distributed upon Institutional Review Board approval. Eleven dairies were identified and recruited for field research, with four of the dairies enrolled into the animal behavior/welfare study.
- Outreach – disseminate information about wild bird species identification and management on farms. Two newsletter articles were published to increase awareness of wild bird management issues on dairies. Research team members shared wild bird species identification cards and discussed wild bird management methods with dairy producers at the state-wide annual dairy producer meeting.
- Field data collection – collect bird population numbers on dairies. The number of wild birds present on eleven dairies was recorded at sunrise and sunset on a weekly basis during Fall 2016. Additionally, the presence of native raptors or night roosts were observed and recorded. Video cameras are currently being installed on four dairies for the animal behavior/welfare study.
At the conclusion of Year 1, all objectives and performance targets planned for Year 1 have been completed. Progress is expected to continue as planned.
Recruitment. One of the greatest accomplishments for Year 1 of this project was the successful recruitment of cooperating dairies and research personnel. To ensure the continued success of this project, it was vital to establish a collaborative team of researchers and dairy producers.
Field research data collection. Upon the enrollment of cooperating dairies for the animal behavior/welfare study, the logistics of installing video cameras at feedbunks on these dairies posed a challenge but camera installation has now been completed on 50% of the dairies.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
Although this project is only in its first year, it has already increased producer awareness of wild bird management issues on dairies. Discussions with dairy producers have indicated that a majority of producers has gained knowledge about wild bird damage and deterrence methods because of this project. The outreach activities during Year 1 (newsletter articles published and Extension booth at the annual meeting) contributed to the impact of this project on dairy producer education. Dairies that participated in weekly bird count data collection received reports on the number of birds and night roosts on their farms. These reports helped dairy producers understand how environmental temperatures impact the number of birds present on their farms and how their bird deterrence methods affect native raptors. At the conclusion of Year 1, a factsheet about wild bird damage in agricultural settings was submitted for peer-review as an Extension publication. This factsheet will provide agricultural producers and the public with an overview of the wild bird management issue. As the project progresses, additional outreach opportunities will further contribute to the impact of this project.
Trinity Western University
7600 Glover Road
Langley, BC V2Y 1Y1
Office Phone: 604-888-7511
NW Livestock and Dairy Regional Specialist
Washington State University
16650 State Route 536
Mount Vernon, WA 98273-4768
Office Phone: 360-848-6151
USDA APHIS-Wildlife Services
4101 LaPorte Ave
Fort Collins, CO 80521
Office Phone: 970-266-6150