What can I do to help

Supporting dung beetle habitat

Outwintering stock

Different species of beetles emerge at different times of year, with some species being active over winter. Ideally keeping livestock out during the whole year, even if just a few, will support these beetles.

Unseasonal warm spikes during the early spring will induce large emergences of dung beetles and these will require dung to inhabit. They need food and a home - especially if it suddenly returns to cold temperatures. Having fresh dung already on the ground is a lifeline for these breeding beetles

By having stock out during the winter there is dung available to these early emergences maintaining the population. Obviously, this may not be possible in all systems and should be discussed with your vet as to which animals may be suitable. Providing shelter is necessary – either with buildings or trees/hedges and may not be suitable for certain breeds.

Having a mixture of species of dung beetles is very important as the more species, the more rapid the decomposition of faecal pats. Different species inhabit pats at different times of year and during the different stages of its decomposition

Forage Type

It is also worth noting that dung consistency plays a major part in healthy dung beetle abundances. Most species of beetles do not thrive in sloppy pats and do not like pats that are created from high grain diets. Remember, it is the bacteria in the dung pat juices that the beetles are after and pats derived from grain do not taste very nice, apparently! Feeding fibre to animals when pats are soft not only has multiple health benefits for digestion, but also for beetle numbers. This can be done by adding hay / straw / straw pellets to the diet, removing / reducing molasses, increasing rotation length or using multiple species in the sward.

These solutions might not seem practical, but the next time you are reseeding a paddock with perennial ryegrass, consider adding cocksfoot or timothy to a bag of seed. Animals might not graze it on most rotations, but the times that the perennial ryegrass has a low dry matter value, animals will find it appealing. These grass species are high in fibre.

Mineral supplements influence beetle populations. Using these supplements should be considered carefully and in line with requirements. Blood samples, milk samples and liver biopsy / autopsy reports can give a farmer great information to allow them to decide on the best approach to take when discussing nutrition with their vet / advisor.

Dung beetles and worming products

Worming products have a significant impact on dung beetles.