GWCT research suggests that as many as 25% of released pheasants don’t survive until the start of the shooting season, with the majority of these falling foul of predators. That is to say that of every thousand pheasants released, 250 are gone before shooting even begins. Scale that up for a largish shoot and you’re looking at some significant losses. After all, if the value of a shot bird is anywhere from £30-£45, how many can you afford to lose before a shotgun has even been mounted? But what if you could reduce the number that don’t make it?
One solution might be going all in on predator control, but let’s face it, eliminating predators all together is neither practical, nor a particularly desirable thing to do from a conservation and biodiversity perspective. So how can we keep our birds safe? One thing you might want to consider is do everything possible to keep your birds as close to home as possible. In home woods or in game covers your birds are as protected as they can be from predators, and it helps you to focus your pest control activities.
Jamie Horner, game feed specialist at Marsdens, warns that he sees shoot managers, keen to keep costs down, reducing the protein content in their bird’s feed too early. This, explains Jamie, increases the risk of the birds heading off in search of protein on their own. “Typically, the time people are reducing the amount of protein they’re giving their birds coincides with a boom in insect numbers, especially in a warm, humid year like this one,” he says.
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