Entry Level Stewardship (ELS) Handbook 2013 (NE349)
NEW in 2013
EF23 Supplementary feeding in winter for farmland birds
630 pts/tonne

Please note this option is subject to approval by the European Commission.

Many farmland birds, including yellowhammer, grey partridge, tree sparrow, corn bunting, linnet and skylark, require seed food throughout the year. A decline in seed availability during the non-breeding season has been a major cause of decline in many seed-eating species. Overwinter stubbles and wild bird seed mixtures provide winter food for seed eaters, but this has typically run out by mid-winter, leaving these birds with a 'hungry gap' before natural food resources become available again in spring.

Providing cereal, oilseed and specialised grains will help farmland birds both survive through this hungry gap and also enter the breeding season in much improved condition.

This is a rotational option. This means it can move around the farmed area but the same total tonnage of feed must be maintained each year.

This option can only be used with options EF2 Wild bird seed mixture and/or EF22 Extended overwintered stubble. The maximum amount of this option that can be entered into the agreement is 0.5 tonnes per hectare of EF2 Wild bird seed mixture and/or 0.2 tonnes per hectare of EF22 Extended overwintered stubble.

Please note, where the option is located on areas ineligible for SPS (for example, an area of hard standing), the SPS eligibility rules will still apply and the feeding area cannot be claimed for SPS.

For this option, you must comply with the following:

  • Select a feeding area/s either on firm free-draining farm tracks or hard standing areas close to existing areas of overwintered stubbles or wild bird seed mixtures or on overwintered stubbles or wild bird seed mixtures. Selecting areas next to hedges, bushes or trees (shelter belts) to provide a safe haven for the feeding birds would be beneficial.
  • Spread the food on the ground at least once a week from 1 January until 31 March. Hoppers (feed distributors) may be used to support ground feeding but should not be the sole method of supplementary feeding. Move hoppers regularly and/or protect them by guards or cages to reduce the impact of vermin.
  • The food must be a mixture of wheat and oilseed rape (75%), red millet, white millet and canary seed (25%). Tailings (small seeds removed from the harvested crop) are not permitted.
  • Distribute enough food to match consumption, ensuring a fresh supply of food is maintained without leaving seed unconsumed. This is especially important where ground feeding is undertaken.
  • A 'feeding diary' must be kept - to include details of:
    • mixture (weight of components and cost)
    • date of feeding
    • amount fed
    • location of feeding.

In addition, all receipts for the purchase of seed must be retained and made available on inspection.

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