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Are Starlings Causing Problems on Your Farm?

University of Minnesota Extension, Stearns County News
January 28, 2015        
Source:  Emily Wilmes, Extension Educator-Livestock
University of Minnesota Extension
Stearns, Benton & Morrison Counties

Release Date:  February 2, 2015

Are Starlings Causing Problems on Your Farm?
By Emily Wilmes, University of Minnesota Extension

ST. CLOUD, Minn. (1/28/15)——We spend a lot of time talking about things you DO want on your farm, but what about the things you DON’T want, like pests?  One pest in particular can be a huge problem on Minnesota farms in the winter.  I am referring to birds, and specifically the starling.  When the weather is cold and the ground is covered in snow, these birds look for a more convenient food source, and they find just that on livestock farms. 

Starlings can contribute significantly to feed losses.  J.W. Schroeder, dairy specialist with North Dakota State University Extension, explains, “Starlings can eat 50 percent of their body weight in feed a day. One thousand birds easily can consume 100 pounds of grain in a day.”  Not only do starlings eat feed, but they also defecate in feed and water and on equipment and buildings.  Starlings cause issues related to economic efficiency, animal health, and equipment and building maintenance.

Farmers have tried several methods to get rid of the birds, including shotguns, pyrotechnics, and sealing barns and buildings.  Hawks are natural predators of starlings, but attracting hawks to live near a farm can be difficult.  The European starling, also known as the common starling, is not native to the U.S., so producers can use lethal control measures.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture offers baiting services for farmers.  "This can be effective,” Schroeder says, “but it has a significant cost."

Another option is a pesticide called Starlicide, which is available for farmers to purchase if they have a private pesticide license. This chemical comes premixed and ready to use. Schroeder says, "Before you use this chemical, make sure that no protected birds will have access to the bait because it will kill most types of birds or fowl.”  The chemical will not significantly affect cattle or other animals around the farm.  The best time to put the bait out is in the morning, when the ground is frozen or snow-covered.  Schroeder advises, "It is a good idea to notify any close neighbors of your plans so it won't come as a surprise if they find dead birds on their property."

If you have additional questions about dealing with starlings, contact the Stearns County Extension Office at 320-255-6169, Benton County Extension Office at 320-968-5077, or Morrison County Extension Office at 320-632-0161.


Emily Wilmes
Extension Educator, Ag Production Systems - Livestock
(320) 255-6169
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