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How we're backing British Farming

Wednesday, 10th September 2014

Since 1937, Haith’s has purchased its raw material in a responsible manner, focusing on the long-term benefits of nature conservation.

"More than 50% of our total* wild bird food raw materials are sourced from British farms." - Haith's. 

Now, more than 50% of our total* wild bird food raw materials are sourced from British farms. We’re proud of that fact and we continue to search for the best ways to further reduce our environmental footprint and increase, where possible, this figure. 

In future years we’ll be working harder to purchase seed from British farmers who have signed up to Natural England’s Entry Level Stewardship Scheme, “with nearly 60% of England’s agricultural land now in (ELS) Entry Level Stewardship” (according to Natural England), they are becoming easier to find. The EL scheme supports efforts to help farmland birds, such as skylarks and lapwings, thrive on farms. The scheme also recognises that a “majority of farmland birds feed their young on insects and so require insect-rich foraging habitats for successful breeding.” Facts we have known for years as a bird-feeding community.

British Farmers working with experts, to improve nature conservation in-situ, is an important paradigm shift, because it will mean that more birds get fed. How?

In an average garden, we are feeding many birds because their natural habitat has disappeared. However, when you buy from Haith’s your money is feeding more birds because the farmer is investing in nature conservation and feeding birds on his farm too, your single investment now gets bigger results. And it’s not just the birds that benefit; protecting water on farms helps “protect and provide the habitat for bats, newts, water voles and other small animals to flourish,” reports Natural England, Source: Farming for Birds (NE232).

It’s important to keep in mind that British sourcing is only one chapter of a much larger story, though. Science-based quality control (QC) is essential, if birds are to benefit from supplementary feeding. A British bird food that’s full of dust, extraneous husk and nutritionally deplete helps no-one and just wastes resources.

Wherever seed comes from (Britain or otherwise), they need to be cleaned as dust is harmful to a bird’s respiratory system and extraneous husk can damage delicate tissues and allow entry to pathogens. An expert helps to QC our products using laboratory investigations. Our formulae have been tested by time, and by experts. Our research and development team at Haith’s PRO are continually uncovering ways to improve Haith’s bird diets – and are starting to share their research with conservation experts.

We want our seed to be “great” and not just “British”. Cutting down on carbon is important to all of us but if it’s at the expense of reducing the benefits of a seed diet the birds will lose out. Therefore, we will continue to source high-energy foods, such as Sunflower Hearts, from overseas because they provide unrivalled energy and goodness.

Total reliance on British crops would leave birds vulnerable in cases of crop failure, which is a common occurrence.

Our investment in The Bird Food Centre is to make our bird diets cleaner, safer and better for birds. We eliminate several stages from the supply chain and now source, clean, blend, pack and despatch under one roof.

We dramatically reduced our environmental impact by, for example: reducing waste; relocating to a more accessible postcode; harvesting natural daylight in our factory to reduce utilities usage, and re-using waste materials. However, working together (Haith’s and farmers) we are stronger and more likely to achieve our object of putting nature first.

Total* - The combined volume (by KG) of Haith's wild bird food & Bill Oddie's Bird Food Recipes 2012/13. Combined total/volume means that some bird foods may have more British ingredients than others and that some bird foods may have no British ingredients. 

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