A STABILISATION in costs was a key trend from the results of the seventh Shoot Benchmarking Survey run by Savills and the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT).
Total variable costs were just over £8 per bird, slightly down on the season before and average total fixed costs were on a par with the 2015/16 season, at just under £5 per bird.
These annual differences, although small, can have a marked effect on the bottom line in terms of costs per bird shot (this time averaging £34) as the results found around 15% of shoots are within £1 per bird of breakeven. Total costs averaged £12.55 per bird, which is 9% below a peak in the 2013/14 season, demonstrating that shoots have successfully managed down their costs.
David Steel, rural director of Savills, said: “While the economics of running a shoot remain finely balanced, it is encouraging that the numbers making a loss reduced to 43% during the past season compared with 59% for the 2015/16 season.”
Shoots continue to make strong environmental contributions, with nearly 70% being part of agri-environmental schemes and over half also self-funding environment work.
Good news too for grey partridge, as 83% of shoots with greys reported stable or increasing numbers. This is encouraging to those scientists at the GWCT engaged in research aimed at reversing declining partridge numbers.
For more information on how to report grey partridge numbers on your land please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit this page.
Overall, however, shoots reported a drop in optimism for the 2017/18 season compared to last year.
Demand remains strong, especially for shoots in popular locations offering quality sport. This suggests the drop in optimism is more closely linked to concerns over disease risk combined with a general uncertainty surrounding Brexit, and the ongoing domestic political and public pressures against shooting.
Roger Draycott, head of advisory services at the GWCT, said: “It is incumbent upon shoots and the associated bodies to highlight the important and wide ranging conservation and economic benefits which shooting can bring to all corners of the UK.”
Dr Draycott also welcomed the news that 95% of participating shoots in the survey would support a voluntary initiative to promote wider compliance with the Code of Good Shooting Practice.
This year, 155 shoots took part – the largest number in the seven years of the survey’s history - shooting over 3,300 days last season, releasing 1.6 million birds, employing 250 full and part-time staff and generating a turnover in excess of £16 million.
The principal objective of the survey is to act as a shoot management tool, identifying areas of strength or weakness, so corrective action can be taken.
For participating shoots, we provide (for free) a detailed report analysing their data against an overall benchmark and also to shoots of similar sizes.
Here is the Shoot Benchmarking Survey in full.
For more information or to take part in the eighth survey, please email email@example.com or call 01440 821325.
Notes to editors
The Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust – providing research-led conservation for a thriving countryside. The GWCT is an independent wildlife conservation charity which has carried out scientific research into Britain’s game and wildlife since the 1930s. We advise farmers and landowners on improving wildlife habitats. We employ 22 post-doctoral scientists and 50 other research staff with expertise in areas such as birds, insects, mammals, farming, fish and statistics. We undertake our own research as well as projects funded by contract and grant-aid from Government and private bodies. The Trust is also responsible for a number of Government Biodiversity Action Plan species and is lead partner for grey partridge and joint lead partner for brown hare and black grouse.
ISDN radio broadcast line – at our Fordingbridge HQ we have an ISDN radio broadcast line, allowing us to conduct interviews remotely.
For information, contact:
Telephone: 01425 651000