Research article

Financial pressures

Abstract

Shoot economics continue to be finely balanced as inflating costs necessitate increased charges


Income

The 2018/19 season results show that shoots increased their pheasant charge per bird by an average of £1.88 for the 2018/19 season (5.3%). Partridge charges were similarly increased by £1.85 (5.2%). On 47% of participating shoots, the average income per bird shot on let days was lower than the price quoted per bird, and this is due to the leeway offered before overages are charged. The birds that are not charged for effectively supress the average income per bird.

 

Costs

Variable costs per bird put down were £9.25, 7% higher when compared to the 2017/18 season. This was mainly due to 9% higher feed costs as a result of higher cereal prices during last summer and autumn. Beaters’ and pickers’ up pay per bird put down is the third largest variable cost (see chart below) and increased by 13%, the underlying average day rates for the two roles increased by 8-9%.

 

Variable costs per bird put down

Over the last three seasons, the average pay rate for beaters has increased by 20% and day rates have become more variable. The graph below shows that in the 2015/16 season the majority of beaters were paid £25 or £30 per day. Since then, the average rate of pay has increased by £5.70 per day and the sample is distributed across a wider range of values.

 

 

Distribution of beaters day rates in 2016 and 2019

Overall the average total cost per bird put down was £14.13. Around 35-40% of birds are shot, so the cost per bird shot is higher, averaging £39.24. The average income per bird shot on let days is £36.92, so a shoot that achieves average performance would lose £2.32 per bird shot. This demonstrates why it is important to fully scrutinise income, expenditure and performance before fixing future charges. For example, in reality the cost per bird shot increases through the season due to extra feed costs and greater non-shooting or natural losses of birds. To reflect the fact that the cost of a bird shot in January is higher than in November, shoots could develop a more flexible approach to late season days and consider selling smaller or fixed price days.

Over the last three seasons, the average pay rate for beaters has increased by 20% and day rates have become more variable

Savills Research

Future plans

Looking ahead to next season, 63% of shoots plan to increase their charges. This is fewer than last year. 84% intended to increase their prices for the 2018/19 season, and the results we have observed relating to that season suggest their intentions were carried through. Where shoots are planning to increase their prices for the 2019/20 season, on average they intend to increase their pheasant charges by £1.53 and partridge by £1.36.

 

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