For Bodfuan Shoot, Game Shooting is about shooting and conservation working side by side. It often concerns us how little the public know about shooting and the logistics of a shoot.

In our opinion the majority of people stopped in a town or city would say they love to see pheasants and wild birds when visiting the countryside. Some would say it’s cruel to shoot them. In our opinion very few people understand that if it wasn’t for pheasant shooting and shoots stocking pheasants very few would be seen in the UK. Pheasants, not being UK originated birds, can in the majority of cases, only survive with the help of a game keeper. Pheasants are fed wheat on a daily basis either by a game keeperor from an automatic feeder. We estimate that only 50% of the feed is eaten by our pheasants and the rest eaten by wild birds and mice etc. Just take a few minutes to think about the food chains all starting with wheat which the game keeper has fed the pheasants especially during a cold winter like 2009/10 when there was not much food on the ground for wild birds.

Wheat > Game > Human
Wheat > Game > Fox/Wild Cats/Other Predators
Wheat > Mice > Birds of prey
Wheat > Song Birds/Wild Birds

Our conservation and countryside management at Bodfuan Shoot is a big part of our work. Everything we shoot at Bodfuan gets eaten. Only 25-50% of the pheasants we put down each year get shot, the others live to see another day and for you to see in the countryside. Please remember if you want to continue to see pheasants and wild birds in the countryside, keep Britain Game Shooting.

A new study investigates the amount of winter food needed to boost declining birds.

With the prospect of freezing winter conditions ahead of us The Game Conservancy Trust is urging farmers and landowners to keep feeding game and farmland birds during late winter and early spring as this is the time when many declining bird species struggle for survival due to a lack of food.

In a recent four-year study the Trust has identified that early spring feeding consistently led to higher densities of breeding pheasants and nearly twice as many young were produced when birds were regularly fed from a network of wheat-filled feed hoppers through to mid-May. As well as game, many other declining bird species such as yellowhammers and corn buntings are thought to benefit from this winter feeding regime.

Many of our once-familiar farmland birds, such as the tree sparrow, grey partridge and corn bunting have all undergone more than 80% declines in the last forty years and most conservationists suspect that the cause of these declines for these and other seed-eating birds is the loss of suitable food over the winter-time, resulting in fewer birds surviving.

To test this theory, The Game Conservancy Trust and RSPB Scotland have embarked on an ambitious four-year study, which aims to identify the reasons for these serious declines in bird populations and to explore just how important winter food supplies are to several species of farmland birds in Scotland. When completed, the project will help to provide national guidelines on winter feeding, as well as showing the specific feeding regimes that are suited to a variety of farmland bird species.

Dr Dave Parish from The Game Conservancy Trust, who is running the project said, “This study is a massive undertaking, which will involve monitoring bird numbers on more than 32 farms across eastern Scotland. This summer we assessed the number of birds present on all our study sites before any changes are introduced and this has revealed a total of 80 species, ranging from the more common birds such as crows and pigeons, to some real scarcities like quail and crossbill.”

Within the study area some of the farms involved will provide extra food over-winter, either as crops that are left for the birds to eat or as heaps of grain, whilst the remainder will remain unchanged. Dave Parish explains, “After we have monitored bird numbers on all the farms over the coming years we will be able to tell whether those with extra food have done better than those without and most importantly, whether they have maintained or increased their bird populations.

The fact that so many species have been seen on the study sites also means that the effect of the winter food can be investigated on a variety of birds all at once. This is extremely important because the recent changes in farming subsidies now mean that farmers will be paid for sowing a variety of seed-bearing crops that are not harvested but left for the birds to eat. Dr Jerry Wilson of RSPB Scotland, who is also working on the project said, “This study will confirm whether these new farming prescriptions actually work and will hopefully show the best ways of increasing the benefits to birds. More fundamentally, this study will provide the best evidence yet as to whether winter food availability is crucial to the survival of these seed eating birds.”

Shooting – General

Shootings worth to the UK economy

  • Shooters spend £2.5 billion each year on goods and servicesShooting supports the equivalent of 74,000 full time jobs
  • Shooting is worth £2 billion to the UK economy (GVA)
  • Shooting is involved in the management of two-thirds of the rural land area
  • There are 4 million (est) airgun owners – of which 1.6 m shoot live quarry
    600,000 people in the UK shoot live quarry, clay pigeons or targets
  • Shoot providers spend nearly £250 million a year on conservation
  • Shooters spend 3.9 million work days on conservation – that’s the equivalent of 16,000 full-time jobs
  • Two million hectares are actively managed for conservation as a result of shooting

For more information

Shooting – Who works on shoots?

  • Rural England employs over 54m people Of these, over 10% are directly employed in shooting supported jobs
  • 15,000 Beaters and Loaders
  • 16,000 Game keepers, shoot managers and others
  • 16,000 Supplier jobs (such as clothing retailers) 930 Jobs supported in downstream industries
  • 22,000 Supply chain jobs supported (includes expenditure multiplier effects)
  • It is estimated that 620,000 people are involved in the provision of sporting shooting in the UK. That is the equivalent of 49,000 full time jobs, or 1/5 of the total agricultural workforce

Shooting and Conservation

  • Shoot providers spend £250m a year on conservation – which is 5 times the annual income of Britain’s biggest wildlife conservation organisation, the RSPB
  • An estimated 26 million work days are undertaken each year on habitat and wildlife management for shooting in the UK
  • Typically, a shoot provider will provide 16 days shooting, whilst undertaking an average of 155 days of wildlife and habitat management each year
  • People who regularly use the countryside, but do not shoot, see the conservation that shoots undertake as a positive Among these, 57% cited woodland as the most positive benefit of shooting
  • If shooting were stopped, it would severely damage the conservation of wildlife and biodiversity
  • In preserving and enhancing the natural habitat for wildlife, shooting is necessarily sustaining the natural beauty of the countryside – thus benefiting all
  • £77 million is invested annually in ensuring highways leading to shoots are maintained, making the countryside more accessible for all
  • Two million hectares are actively managed for conservation as a result of shooting – this is an area size of Wales
  • Shooters spend 27million work days on conservation – the equivalent of 12,000 full time jobs

Shooting and tourism

  • Shooting directly supports 5,700 jobs in the food and accommodation sector
  • Shooting indirectly supports 1,700 jobs in the travel sector
  • It is estimated that an average 222 visitor nights (ie. people that are there because of the shoot, but not participating in it) were generated in 2004 by each shooting provider
  • Shooting helps to sustain rural communities during the winter when income from other forms of tourism is substantially reduced, and can make the difference between profit and loss for some rural services
  • £60m is spent on accommodation
  • £58m is spent on offsite food

Rural Areas – key facts and figures

  • In the last 20 years the proportion of young people aged between 15-29 living in rural areas has fallen from 21% to 15%
  • The median age for rural areas is 444, compared to 385 for urban areas
  • In 2007 32% of all rural households had a household income less than £16,500 per annum
  • The average price of a house in a rural area in 2007 was 21% higher than in an urban area – and would require a low income household to borrow over 15 times their yearly income in order to purchase their home
  • Around 50% of rural households do not have access to a bus stop within a 13 minute walk of their home
  • Employment rates are 78% in rural areas compared to 74% for urban areas

Game as Food – key facts and figures

  • Game sales are up 64% since 2002
  • The Countryside Alliance’s ‘Game to Eat’ Campaign began in ’02
  • Retail sales of Game are expected to rise 8% in 2008
  • The Game to Eat Market is work £69m
  • In five years the market has nearly doubled
  • The re-emergence of game in the food calendar is led by venison, which has three fifths of the market share and is in constant demand, followed by pheasant and partridge, the major-players in the game bird sector
  • Venison sales have increased by 25% to a projected £40m and feathered game by 188% to be worth projected £19m in 2008
  • Between 2003 and 2007 sales through farm shops, farmer’s markets and online purchase went up 60% while supermarkets’ value has increased by a staggering 150%