Crows are long known to be public enemy number one when it comes to farming. They tend to pull up the seeds and shoots of emerging plants, even destroying entire yields in the process But what are the best methods of control? Keep reading and find out!
Helium Balloons - An usual option granted, though it can be very effective.
This one is recommended by Teagasc, who say the balloon resembles a bird of prey to the crows. To apply this method, simply tie helium balloons to fence posts and trees around certain areas of your field, moving them every few days. The balloons should be flown at different heights, to ensure overall protection.
Kites - Another very similar method to using balloons, is using kites.
Kites, in the shape of birds of prey such as Hawks, are excellent deterrents to crows. Like with the helium balloons, they should be placed at different heights, in different areas of a field. Again, watch out for any overhead power lines before choosing a place.
Bangers - A tried and tested method. Any farmers still use bangers effectively to this day, though it can draw noise complaints from neighbours. If using bangers, try and use ones which are fitted with timers as then, you won’t have to field complaints about one going off in the early hours of the morning.
Scarecrows - An old option but still very effective, building a scarecrow is a much-used option in agriculture and it is also a fun activity for the children.
Build a scarecrow, of any shape and size, using farmyard materials such as straw and old clothes. The bigger the better and one shaped like a human, it should deter most birds. Building more than one is probably recommended for those farming large areas of land.
Shiny Objects- Scattering shiny objects/materials around the affected area is an easy way of deterring pesky crows. Crows and other birds are naturally scared of bright objects, excluding magpies of course. CDs, tinfoil or other reflective materials can be used.
Sound - As is the case with bangers, Crows and other birds hate loud noises. There are many different sound machines on the market, some of which even emit predator-like noises. Some are even programmed to release bird distress calls, which will automatically keep crows away.
Gun - The final option, which should be used as a last resort due to the dangers associated is a gun. Firing off the occasional warning shot to crows and other birds will keep them away, but only for a short period. You aren’t going to stand in the field all day in wait are you?
Other Methods - Covering crops with netting is one option to ensure your crop yields do not take a hit, but it can prove costly. There are also a number of bird repellent liquids on the market, though how effective they are is unknown.
Bird netting is also readily available, see below picture, though needs regular replacing as birds tend to break through using their beaks.
Preventative methods -
For farmers, the most efficient method of control truly is prevention.
- When sowing the crop, it is advised to avoid shallow drilling and consolidate the seedbed by rolling. This will help protect newly planted seeds and shoots, from being destroyed by a murder of crows. Try and plant each seedling at least 1.5 inches underground.
- Making sure that there are no remnants of feed and other food sources around the farmyard is also another preventative method. Food attracts birds and crows are opportunistic feeders. As does open water sources, such as water troughs. Birds like to bathe, though you cannot prevent your livestock access to water. It might be best to find an area to situate your water source, which is out of reach to birds.
- An old-timey way of deterring crows and other birds from bales, is through painting them bright colours. This should deter birds from pecking holes in silage bales, though is not 100% effective.