Will there be birds to shoot this Christmas?

by Deborah Hadfield

There are rumours that poult prices have bust through the £10 barrier and gone as high as £17 per poult. If true, that’s going to make shooting expensive during the 2022/23 season. News correspondent Deborah Hadfield takes a cool look at the truth behind the rumours.

Dominic Boulton of the Game Farmers’ Association says about 50% of lowground birds released each year in the UK are imported, mostly as eggs from France. 

The winter outbreak of avian influenza in France is in the area where most of the UK’s game birds breed. The game farms of the Vendee and Loire Atlantique regions export large numbers of eggs and chicks to the UK.

Until July 2022, no eggs or chicks can leave these disease control zones without a licence. 

In 2019, the last ‘normal’ year of sales pre-Covid, the UK imported about 20 million pheasants and up to 10 million partridges from France, the majority as eggs for hatching in the UK.

Paul Childerley runs game bird shoots in Bedfordshire. He says the shortage of birds is leading to a rise in prices. He says he has heard of prices up to £17 per poult.

BASC says bird flu in France is forcing some game farms to look at sourcing stock from elsewhere such as Spain. Others in the UK have increased the capacity of their own laying stock.

Trouble at shoot: how one shoot captain is coping with lack of birds:

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