Winter feed for farmland birds

As more and more AF Members develop ambitions for nurturing biodiversity and adopting regenerative farming options, Alastair Nottage spells out the seed options to feed your farmland birds.


Winter feeding for farmland birds provides important feed sources in late winter or early spring on arable or mixed farms, by supplementing crops.

Supplementary winter feeding for farmland birds, known as AB12 in the stewardship schemes, helps birds through the ‘hungry gap’ of late winter when feed is scarce, and when they need to prepare for the breeding season ahead. AB12 can be used on whole or part parcels in rotation on arable land, temporary grassland or bush orchards but cannot be used on organic parcels of land or land in conversion.


Which birds benefit most?

The target species are seed-eating birds that need to have increased breeding success in the spring. They include:

  • yellowhammer
  • grey partridge
  • tree sparrow
  • corn bunting
  • linnet
  • turtle dove (present during spring and summer)


The do’s & don’t’s with AB12

You can find out more about eligibility, requirements, best practices and advice on the government website: These include how to pick the right area of your farm, seed mix examples, record keeping, prohibited activities – all of which need to be adhered to in order to receive payment for your efforts.


What is the cost benefit of AB12?

If you qualify for the mid or high tier of the Countryside Stewardship Scheme, AB12 pays £669 per tonne for every 2 hectares of winter bird food.


How can AF help you with this?

Your AF Livestock Inputs team can procure the below from a number of suppliers and will price check to secure you the best price meaning you can make the most of the funding:

  • Portland feeders for fence posts
  • seed & throw seed mix
  • complete mix
  • 30% small seed mix (to add to 70% your own wheat or oilseed rape)
  • bespoke mixes
  • off the shelf mixes


All seed available in either 25kg sacks or tote bags. In addition, your AF Seed team can help you with AB9 Winter Bird Food for drilling.

These are some of the ways that AF can help you and your on-farm biodiversity at a time where we all need to boost bio-abundance.

For more information, contact your AF Livestock Inputs team by email to or call
01603 881 905.