What does it take to rear Gamebirds
Rearing Gamebirds is vital to the success of any shoot. It won’t matter if you put thousands of birds down if the environment isn’t ready for it then you’ll lose more than you shoot. This could be down to predators or poor management where the birds cross boundaries out of your control. Whether it’s choosing the right cover crop or the right food these are all factors required to create a successful shoot. You’ll also have to consider where you put this crop. Often the best place to place birds on paper isn’t the best place to have a shooting drive. So how do you make sure you rear Gamebirds correctly.
To rear Gamebirds good cover crop is essential. In many cases, you can’t grow the same cover crop year on year without ruining the soil. Growing the same crop would lead to weeds and Disease also. Too dense and you’ll risk poor health of the crop and the birds won’t take to it. Any beater will be able to tell you that these thick covers can often hide birds inches from your feet. Even a fully grown pheasant can tuck itself away let alone a sneaky partridge. Kale is a brilliant crop as it branches out rather wide and is very hardy. Kale copes with temperatures as low as minus 10 which is perfect for those cold snaps. Guidance from the NGO is Maize, the roots are incredibly tough and can withstand birds rather easily. In the last 100 years, Maize has been unsuccessful in only two which shows how reliable it is. To read the document from the NGO please click Here.
In the UK Pheasants are released at a ratio of 3:1 against partridge. A lot of this is down to what the people shooting want to see and pheasants being easier to hold. Partridge have a knack of wandering away and if the Pheasants aren’t holding the partridge won’t either. With these ratios in mind it’s easier to get the foster birds to take on the chicks when they arrive. There’s also massive consideration for topography. Driven partridge in lower ground is meant for partridge in the same way big valleys are meant for Pheasant. Pheasant need that time to get to height and push towards the line. Partridge will break cover and get to speed incredibly quickly. If you’re a shoot with masses of space this may not make a difference but for the smaller shoots you can use this to your advantage. It has to be said though that a soaring pheasant coming out of a group of trees is iconic as is hearing Partridge moments before they burst over some rolling hills and banking over the guns. To get the best out of your shoot you have to rear the right birds so if you want to know more follow the guide Here.
We’ve mentioned this a couple of times already but the location is key. To rear gamebirds successfully the birds must be raised in a suitable environment. Whether you have great woodland or wonderful valleys this will dictate the way you layout your shoot. Unfortunately some of the best shooting ground may not be the best place to have a drive. A drive is more than the line of guns and the topography in front. You have to factor in the flushing point, where the beaters will work, healthy hedgerows and the line comes last. Where you see topography you’d think would be perfect to shoot from, you realize that on its own it’s not enough. What this means for rearing Gamebirds is setting them up for an appropriate living. Accessible paths for good access, in places where pests are managed easier and comfortable in their environment with natural flushing points. For more guidance on how to rear in different locations please click Here.
To rear Gamebirds well there needs to be more factors considered than just space or preference. Once you take into account viable cover crop and Topography it becomes easier to work out what works best. As ever best practice needs to be followed to get the best out of the birds. If you’re endeavoring on long term projects like having a stable population of gamebirds all year then you have to be prepared to meet their requirements. Often this means more pest control and more food, a bird with no food won’t hang around for very long. For some more tips on how to start rearing Gamebirds can be read Here.