Thursday, 14 October 2021 09:55

Birds causing carnage in rural NZ

Written by  Mark Daniel
The most common rural insurance claim is tractor fires caused by birds nesting in tractor engines during springtime. The most common rural insurance claim is tractor fires caused by birds nesting in tractor engines during springtime.

Nesting birds are wreaking havoc when it comes to rural insurance, causing more than $4 million in claims over the last three years, says FMG.

The most common claim is tractor fires caused by birds nesting in tractor engines during springtime. Drawn to small dark spaces under the hood, they quickly start building nests of twigs, often near the exhaust manifold, which when the engine is started gets hot, sets the nesting material alight.

FMG manager for advice services, Stephen Cantwell, says it's not uncommon for tractors in these scenarios to quickly go up in flames, especially if the hood is lifted for a closer look, allowing a rush of air to feed the flames, endangering lives and putting buildings and other farm equipment at risk. 

"Our claims data shows nests have also caused fires in other vehicles including cars, utes, diggers, and quads."

Nests can also be a problem in switchboards of buildings, with the resultant electrical fires alongside major disruption particularly in milking sheds. It's also important for dairy farmers to keep birds out of the shed as well to protect their milk storage.

"FMG receives roughly 25 claims a year from birds getting into vats and spoiling milk," says Cantwell.

With spring now upon us, bringing with it, increased nesting activity, FMG is reminding farmers and contractors to not forget to Stop & Pop - so before starting any tractors or self-propelled units, to stop, pop the hood and check for any new nests.

Likewise, it is also good practise at the end work to get into the habit of leaving the hood raised, as it discourages the birds from starting to build a nest.

You can order Stop & Pop reminder stickers for your vehicles at

Cantrell also suggests you put a reminder in your calendar to check the switchboards in your house and other "powered" buildings, while also noting that bird related claims are not just limited to fires, but also carpet stains, pipes blocked by nests or smashed vehicle and building glass. 

More like this

New disc cultivator launched

Väderstad has introduced a new disc cultivator – the Carrier XT 425-625 – featuring rotating disc axles, that optimizes results over a range of working depths with easy machine setting.

JD unlocks its digital system

As a long-term advocate of digital technology, John Deere has taken the route of mass data capture, rather than concentrating on direct driver aids – such as TIM (tractor implement management).

Flexible front hopper

Suitable for applying all types of seeds and fertiliser, Kverneland’s f-drill front hopper can also be paired with a range of implements over a range of working widths.


What now?

Aged 64, Malcolm Bailey says farewell after a stellar career in the dairy industry but his knowledge, innovation and drive…

DCANZ chief bows out

Malcolm Bailey says one of the difficult things he's had to overcome in his tenure with DCANZ is getting traction…

Ruralco's got your back

Rural trader Ruralco has launched a new campaign, recognising and appreciating the farming sector.

Machinery & Products

Amazone's one-pass operation

Ag machinery maker Amazone has paired up its Precea precision air seeder and Combi-Disc 3000 compact disc harrow to deliver…

New grassland products

Grassland specialist Pöttinger has released a new portfolio of products and innovations for the new mowing season.

» The RNG Weather Report

» Latest Print Issues Online

Milking It

Oat juice, not milk

OPINION: New Zealand's best loved brand Whittakers has launched its first 'plant-based' chocolate but it hasn't left a sweet taste…

Heat wave

OPINION: The heat wave that hit Europe last week has forced a rethink among UK dairy farmers who normally graze…

» Connect with Dairy News

» eNewsletter

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter