18 September 1998

Sonic scarer keeps yards free of birds

A BIRD scarer which uses a mix of ultrasonics and recorded warning cries is finding favour on mixed farms.

Indoor and outdoor areas can be kept bird-free using Model 6 and 7 scarers, respectively, says Martley Electronics Rob Yarnold. Sparrows, starlings, pigeons and rooks are all scared away and kept away by the mix of sounds from the small, car-battery powered boxes.

At CwmBydd Farm near Craven Arms, Shropshire farmer Jonathan Griffiths uses a Model 6 to keep birds out of a 200t blacked out, multi-bay on-floor grain store and associated livestock buildings.

"We are in a very exposed position and the sparrows do like to shelter here. Before we got the scarer we couldnt hear ourselves think for the number sheltering in the buildings when we were feeding the sheep."

As well as preventing grain contamination Mr Griffiths was keen to cut the amount of grain and animal feed being eaten.

Now the Model 6 sited in the eaves of the grain store is switched on for several days every few weeks. "At first the birds sit in the sheep shed in panic stricken silence, then they leave. I have been incredibly impressed.

"We tried strobe lights, but they gave me a headache, and plastic owls seem to need moving every day to stop the birds getting used to them. The scarer has put an end to our problems and probably paid for itself in three seasons through reduced grain feeding."

At Hinton St Mary Farms near Sturminster Newton in Dorset a Model 7 outdoor scarer is being used to keep farm buildings and the surrounding area free from birds.

Grain storage on the 730ha (1800-acre) mixed arable/dairy/beef farm was bird-proofed to comply with the Assured Combinable Crops Scheme, notes David Haines. But barley mix fed to bulls attracts starlings, rooks and jackdaws which eat too much of the feed and foul the area if allowed to roost.

Automatic operation means the Model 7 emits a mix of ultra-sonic and warning noises, at random times and for random durations. A lower power strobe light linked to the scarer helps provide a motion deterrent for pigeons, too.

Mr Haines admits to being sceptical when the scarer arrived on test three years ago. But he was soon convinced. "I am not being dramatic, but I have never seen anything so good. It keeps the whole area 99% bird free all the time."

The outside unit can protect up to 12ha (30 acres), which is useful for large farm complexes, provided there are no neighbours nearby. "I can hear it at home and the yard is a quarter of a mile away. I have got used to it, but you would not want to site it near a built-up area," comments Mr Hines.

"Without the scarer the birds were terrible, particularly when there were lots of fledglings about in the spring. Now we very rarely get a bird anywhere near the buildings."

Maintenance is minimal, requiring no more than a three-monthly recharge for the car battery power source. &#42

ELECTRONICSCARER

&#8226 Deters most bird species.

&#8226 Minimal maintenance.

&#8226 Keeps yards clean and cuts animal feed losses.

&#8226 Model 6-£249; Model 7-£299.