Demand for pheasant poults has gone down, supply has gone down, prices have gone up a little: coming out of coronavirus lockdown could be a lot worse, says a top game bird vet.
Dr Kenny Nutting BVetMed MRCVS of St David’s Game Bird Services, which has practices across the Midlands and south of England, puts prices at £3.90-£4.20 per poult, up from last year’s £3.80-£4. He says the more expensive birds are better quality and the game farms that prduce them have worked harder to reduce mycoplasma bacteria, which cause respiratory disease.
“I think there’s a silver lining,” he says of coronavirus’s effect on shooting sports. “The game farms have been able to look at their efficiencies. From a disease perspective, that seems really to be working. They have had time this year to look at audits and check they are at the audit level. Overall, it will be a positive.”
Some game farmers are not rearing this year and most others have reduced their output. “Initially we were worried we were down to 20% of where we were last year. There are some pockets in the South-East and South-West that are down to 40%-50% of last year’s rearing levels, but the rest of the country is at 70%-80%,” days Dr Nutting.
“I buy a couple of day’s shooting and I haven’t seen the price of that go up much,” he says.
His fear is a second lockdown in October, which will lead to shoots being cancelled.
Contact Dr Kenny Nutting via St David’s Game Bird Services StDavids-Gamebirds.co.uk