The current pandemic and resulting lockdown of the country has panicked many shoot managers.

Many pulled the plug on the upcoming season or substantially reduced operations in a bid to mitigate costs that may not be recouped. Certainly, the number of cancelled poult orders has focussed the minds of some game farms.

No doubt they have struggled with planning the volume of eggs to set in the incubator. The current situation really tested the sustainability of UK shooting.

Being left with several thousand seven-week-old poults with no buyers is not worth contemplating. From a business model perspective, setting eggs without confirmed orders and deposits is foolhardy.

Particularly as many eggs may have already been ordered (and paid for) from Europe. Equally, planning a season’s shooting in the absence of firm bookings and deposits could be just as financially damaging. Keepers’ jobs suddenly seem vulnerable.

Time for reflection?

So, is the current commercial climate a time to re-think the way we run shooting in this country? Are commercial shoots that rely solely on early deposits for cash flow too fragile to withstand even a minor disruption, let alone something like we are seeing today?

Are we too reliant on European imports? Essentially, how sustainable is UK shooting? Remember that in today’s environmentally savvy world, if you can’t demonstrate sustainability in the things that you do, then someone will try to stop you from doing them. Or nature itself will rebel against your interference with the natural order of things.

Shooting is now more popular and accessible than ever before – and where there is a demand, there will be a supply. Hence the increase we have seen in the number of commercial shoots which, while supplying a demand, have to pay their way.

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