The financial squeeze for shoots shows no sign of letting up as fuel and feed prices continue to rise, reports Matt Cross

Wheat, the key feed for gamebirds, has continued to rise in price as the war in Ukraine enters a new phase.  Feed typically makes up just under a quarter of the cost of each bird and is the second most important cost per bird after the cost of buying the poult.

The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board, which tracks wheat prices across the country, has been recording prices around £300 per tonne for feed wheat in most parts of the UK for several weeks. This was already a rise of £100 per tonne in the last six months. However the publication of a key report from the US Department of Agriculture was followed by another jump in price with UK feed wheat prices now averaging £312 per tonne. Scotland, which produces relatively small amounts of wheat, has seen particularly high increases with prices now at £325 per tonne. This represents a tripling of the price of wheat in five years. 

Most shoots will buy their wheat from so called ‘new crop’ supplies after harvest. ‘Future prices’ for this stock, which are agreed many months in advance, have also risen dramatically with a tonne increasing by £7.95 in a single day to £283.35 per tonne. 

Global wheat prices have been pushed up by the war in Ukraine disrupting planting and by supply problems in Argentina, both of which are major wheat producers. Meanwhile China has been buying very large and steadily increasing volumes of wheat, maize and soya and is now believed to have stockpiles equivalent to its entire wheat requirement for 18 months.

Arable farmer Ben Royal told Shooting Times: “As a farmer a good wheat price is always very welcome, but people need to remember that with fertiliser and diesel through the roof, a good price doesn’t necessarily mean a good profit.” Ben went on to say: “I have been booking some shooting over the last couple of weeks and it is clear that shoots are pricing in these cost increases, which hits the shooter’s pocket a bit, but is understandable.”