Farmers in the North East and Yorkshire support thriving barn owl population

CFE events offer advice on creating suitable habitats for owls, following a pick-up in numbers

William Maughan’s hens produce an average 8,400 eggs a day for his Happy Egg Company
Farmer and CFE chairman in Durham, William Maughan

More than 140 farmers in the North East and Yorkshire have attended a series of events aimed at showing them how to help barn owls thrive on their farms.

Organised by the Campaign for the Farmed Environment (CFE), the talks saw experts Robin Arundale, John Olly and Philip Hamner give farmers across the region an insight into the life of the birds, combined with advice on what can be done to help them.

During the events it was pointed out that, after a couple of years of inclement weather, the pick-up seen in 2014 has been good news for barn owls.

Not only has this seen particularly large broods been raised, but, in many cases, pairs have been raising two broods rather than the usual one.

Mr Arundale, from Wolds Barn Owl Group, said: “This extremely successful breeding season should result in higher than usual numbers of young ‘first winter’ barn owls looking to find somewhere to pair up and breed next year. This is an excellent opportunity for you to encourage a pair to nest on your farm.

“You will need to provide preferably two appropriately situated barn owl nest boxes. It is vitally important that these are located in an area of suitable habitat.”

CFE regional coordinator Fraser Hugill added: “The new CAP greening measures provide an opportunity to encourage barn owls onto our farms by creating suitable habitat.

“The fallow land and buffer strip options can be used to create or retain tussocky grass areas and margins, providing an ideal habitat for field voles - the main food source of the barn owl.”

The Campaign for the Farmed Environment was set up to encourage farmers and land managers across England to protect and enhance the environmental value of farmland through measures that sit alongside productive agriculture.

It is supported by many organisations engaged in agriculture and the environment, with partners including the NFU, the CLA, the Agricultural Industries Confederation, the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust, Linking Environment and Farming, Defra, Natural England, the Environment Agency, the RSPB, AHDB, Wildlife Trusts, the Association of Independent Crop Consultants and the Central Association of Agricultural Valuers.

Farmer and CFE chairman in Durham, William Maughan, said: “It is so encouraging to see such an enthusiastic group of farmers wanting to learn about barn owls.

“It is important that when giving land over for greening measures it actually delivers something meaningful for the environment and this is where attending a CFE event can help.”

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