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Grant to help WSU researchers, dairy producers study pest birds

Posted by | April 8, 2016
Amber Adams-Progar
Amber Adams-Progar

Amber Adams-Progar, a dairy management specialist in the WSU Department of Animal Sciences, leads a $238,000 grant that aims to give dairies relief from the growing problem of pest birds.

Starlings and other pest birds are a growing problem for Northwest dairies.
Starlings and other pest birds are a growing problem for Northwest dairies.

The Research and Education grant from Western SARE (Sustainable Agriculture Research & Extension) helps Adams-Progar and researchers, Extension specialists and dairy producers—including Susan Kerr, a livestock and dairy regional specialist at WSU-Mount Vernon Research Center, Karen Steensma, associate professor at Trinity Western University and dairy producer, and Stephanie Shwiff, a research economist at USDA-APHIS—address dairy producers’ concerns about pest bird damage.

The pest bird problem on dairies in the Pacific Northwest, especially regarding European starlings, has worsened with changes in land use and agricultural practices over the past 30 years. New feed storage problems mean birds are better able to access silage and hay. Increasing acreage of fruit and berry crops has also provided more habitat for starlings.

The new grant will tally economic losses from pest birds, evaluate the influence of pest birds on cow behavior and health, and test effectiveness of sustainable bird deterrence methods. It is titled “Bovine-avian Interactions on Dairies: Improving Cow Welfare and Farm Economic Stability by Implementing Effective and Sustainable Pest Bird Deterrence Methods.”
Learn more about the project and other Western SARE grants here.