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How Kellanova is helping U.K. wheat farmers repopulate engendered bird species

There was a time when it was common for U.K. wheat farmers to ply their land while listening to a unique soundtrack: yellowhammer birds.  

Often seen perched atop a hedge or bush, the yellowhammer’s iconic birdsong sounds like, “a-little-bit-of-bread-and-no-cheese.” However, wheat farms across the U.K. have grown increasingly quieter in recent decades.  

Why it matters: Since 1970, the yellowhammer population has dropped by over 50 percent because there are fewer food sources available to them.  

  • Due to the yellowhammer’s need for thick hedges and tussocky grass for nesting and a ready supply of grains and insects for food, modern farming practices have resulted in the species depleting.  
  • In the farming community, hedgerows without farmland birds are believed to be indicative of a degraded landscape.  
  • Yellowhammers are on The RSPB Red List, which identifies birds in the U.K., Channel Islands and the Isle of Man in most urgent need of help.   

What’s happening: In 2022, our predecessor, Kellogg Company, launched a three-year pilot program to bring back the yellowhammer in conjunction with the wheat farmers who supply our company. The program supports Kellanova’s Better Days™ Promise strategy to nurture our planet through supporting 1 million farmers and workers by the end of 2030.  

  • The project aims to increase the population of the yellowhammer by up to 30 percent through enhanced biodiversity and input from environmental experts.   
  • Kellogg is working with its wheat farmers to create prime yellowhammer nesting habitats, introduce winter bird food mixes, and to manage hedges differently over the year to avoid disturbing the bird’s late breeding in August and September.   
  • The pilot will cover 150 hectares of fields and its impact will be measured by regular birdwatching.  

It will be successful if: there is an increase in yellowhammer numbers, an increase in the amount of biodiversity and wildlife on the farms, and more sustainable farming practices. It is exciting to think that this pilot can potentially bring this native bird back to our British hedgerows – and give us a blueprint for rolling out the program on other U.K. farms. 

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