The dry summer has decimated your cover crops, how should you go about re-establishing them to draw those birds in? Graham Crocker offers expert advice

Q: My cover crops aren’t great after the dry summer. What can I do to pull in the birds?

GRAHAM CROCKER replies: Don’t panic! First, re-establish your patch cover. There are various rescue mixtures which can be sowed in the autumn as they are quick to establish. I’ve been sowing the Boost Mixture by DLF, which contains texselgreens and mustard, as it is frost hardy and quick growing.

Secondly, ensure there are enough feeders and drinkers, not only in the game strip but also on the way to it, to encourage the birds along. Hand-feeding in the linking hedges from wood to strip also helps.

On the water front, don’t make the mistake of using a half barrel of open water – not even the dogs like drinking from these as the water quickly gets stagnant, stale and diseased. Even if you put fresh water in every day and it looks clean, it will be diseased within the first few birds drinking from it. I invented my own tank drinkers for this very purpose because I wanted a nipple drinker in my game strips near the feeders where there wasn’t any mains water or natural sources of water. I wanted something that I could fill up once a week or so and know that the birds were getting clean, hygienic water and not wandering off my boundary to look for it. I saw a marked difference in the first year and now all my drives have them.