The Dairy Council for Northern Ireland and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) have produced a 40-page document highlighting ways to improve wildlife on dairy farms.

‘A Guide to Nature Positive Dairy Farming’ was launched at the end of November and includes an assessment of the habitats currently on five dairy farms across Northern Ireland (NI), along with recommendations on what could be done on each farm to enhance nature.

The farms involved range in system type from a large-scale spring calving operation to those with cows inside year-round.

The assessment of existing habitats on the farms showed an extensive network of hedgerows are already in place, but management was variable.

A number of the farms have small areas of woodland. Most fields are dominated by perennial ryegrass.


To improve habitats on the farms, recommendations for improvement mainly focus on planting of new hedgerows and management of what is already there.

The advice to the farmers is to let hedges grow out to at least 2m in width and 3m high, and to plant hedgerow trees 20m apart.

Other suggestions include setting aside small areas of the farm for woodland or orchards, creating new small and shallow ponds and adding in artificial nesting boxes for a range of bird species.

Some of the farms would be suited to growing multi-species swards, while there is also the potential on some outfarms where youngstock are grazed, to look at creating wildflower meadows.

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