Following ST’s recent investigation into whether the economic downturn has forced shoots to discount their late-season days in January, Shooting Times questions if gamefarmers will be downsizing the number of poults they rear in anticipation of shoots placing more conservative orders for next season.

The gamefarmers ST spoke to hold differing views on how the current economic crisis will affect them. Francis Briley of Canal Game Farm, in Kent, told ST he is planning to rear more birds: “We are in a fortunate position as most of our clients are commercial shoots [which don’t rear their own birds]. Hence we will be doubling our capacity next year. Do I think poult orders will slow down this year? Not at all. It is a chicken and egg situation — the large shoots need to buy the birds to sell the days. If anything, they might have to drop how much they charge per bird, but I don’t think they will economise on quantity.”

He added that the euro’s strength against the pound could prove devastating for some rearers: “Gamefarmers who produce their own day-olds will be the real winners next year. Given how poor the exchange rate is for the euro, the price of day-old poults has shot up from 75p or so to between 85p and 95p a bird. Gamefarmers who import them are really going to be stung this year.”

James Vigar-Smith of Wernham Game Farm, in Wiltshire, said that it is too early to tell how the industry will be affected: “The downturn is bound to affect us all, but to what extent is anyone’s guess. This year I am reluctant to rear too many poults for late orders and I will be waiting until the middle of February to make a decision on the exact amount of birds that I rear.”

The rest of this article appears in 8 January issue of Shooting Times.

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