Page last updated at 16:54 GMT, Wednesday, 22 April 2009 17:54 UK

Greedy swans cost farms 250,000

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Greedy swans eating watercress

Large numbers of greedy swans on a Hampshire farm are costing watercress growers about £250,000 each year by eating their crops.

The birds have been dining at Drayton Watercress Farm in Alresford for the last six years.

Farmers estimate that the birds eat up to 50 tonnes of crops each year and say they are hard to scare off.

Farmer Tom Jesty said: "If you try to chase them off they peck at your ankles. They can get nasty."

The watercress is protected by netting when it is very young but the nets must be removed to allow the crop to grow.

Natural England recommends farmers use loud bangs to scare the birds away.

But Mr Jesty, of the Watercress Company, said: "Unfortunately they take no notice of gas guns, they know they're safe - they're the Queen's birds."



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