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Extensive management, in particular mowing that is gentle on insects and animals,  is an essential contribution to the preservation of species diversity in fauna and flora.  The most obvious threat to all animals living in the meadows are the mowers themselves. The reasons for the shocking decline of our insects by up to 75% and the huge population losses of meadow birds and amphibians of more than 80% are among others  

  • the loss of breeding habitats and in habitat isolation

  • the use of rotating mowers (in the worst case even with so-called conditioners )

  • at the ecologically wrong time (too early in the year) and rhythm 2-5 x per year) of mowing

  • if the cutting height is too low


Therefore, only extensively managed flower meadows and flower strips are animal-friendly, which is only done once a year, at the beginning of September at the earliest, with finger or bar mowers , without the use of conditioners, tedders, rakes and balers . The cutting height should be at least 12 cm. PRO-NATUR prescribes all these animal-friendly attributes in the management contracts!  


The "most efficient" and therefore most commonly used are disc and drum mowers . The working surface of these mowers is compared to more animal-friendly ones Dual blade/bar mowers  but 2-5 times larger. The driving speed is almost twice as high with rotating blades. These mowers create a suction effect, which means that insects, amphibians, birds and small animals have almost no chance of escaping. Mortality from mowing with rotating mowers is around 60-65%.


Mowing with a disc or drum mower causes three times more damage to the meadow population than a bar mower. If there is also a conditioner  mounted, which crushes the grass before cutting (faster drying), this causes a further 15% higher mortality rate. In total then about 80-85%. In numerous studies on insects and amphibians of all kinds, cutter bars have proven to be the most gentle mowing technique for meadow fauna.

The tedding – i.e. turning the grass clippings in a circular motion to dry the hay – causes around 30% damage to insects, larvae and caterpillars. The raking and pressing of the hay into round bales kills or injures another 46% (75-80% in total ) of the insects and amphibians in the meadows. For young hares and fawns, tedding and raking is the most damaging work step (Ø 90% death rate).

Mortalitätsrate bei Mahd


 Mowing with rotating disc mowers followed by tedding and raking the hay and compacting it into round hay bales kills around 80-90% of all insects and meadow dwellers

Bayerischer Rundfunk - Our country
Animal-friendly mowing technology

SWR - state show Rhineland-Palatinate
Animal-friendly mowing can only work successfully with the help and cooperation of farmers
For this they need financial support

When and how to mow flower meadows
Using the example of meadow orchards




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PRO-NATUR - management rule - animal-friendly mowing

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Research Institute for Organic Farming FIBL leaflet 'Animal-friendly mowing'
Representation of the creatures affected by the mowing of flower meadows

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CONCERNS NATURE Journal of Nature Conservation and Applied Landscape Ecology Issue 36(2), 2014
The effect of mowing on the fauna of the meadows

Rotiernde Mähwerke
Zetten & Schwaden
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