Gamekeepers and estate managers may deserve a rest now the shooting season has ended, but experts say now is the time to start planning for next year.
¬†With CAP reforms due to be introduced in 2015, it is more important than ever to plan your shoot alongside the rest of the farming business, according to specialists at Madeleys Chartered Surveyors in Much Wenlock.
¬†Farmers and landowners will have to meet specific ‚ÄėGreening‚Äô requirements to be able to claim their Basic Payment with the new Common Agricultural Policy coming in next year.
¬†But Chris Powell, a former gamekeeper who now works for Madeleys Chartered Surveyors, said the new rules should be seen as an opportunity rather than a problem.
¬†‚ÄúFarmers will have to meet these ‚ÄėGreening‚Äô requirements as part of the CAP reforms, and they can be a real opportunity to improve your shooting estate,‚ÄĚ he said.
¬†‚ÄúWith good planning, you can meet the new criteria and improve your shoot at the same time by introducing more buffer strips around fields and creating woodland areas in the right places.‚ÄĚ
¬†Mr Powell said even without the added complication of the CAP reforms, forward planning was essential to make the most out of the shoot season.
¬†‚ÄúYou need to plan everything as far in advance as you can,‚ÄĚ he added. ‚ÄúOne of the most important things to decide is how many shoot days you are going to have, as that effects everything, from how many birds you will need to the type of cover crops you will want.
¬†‚ÄúGamekeepers and shoot owners should work in partnership with the landowner because the area and type of cover crops will need to be planned in with the whole crop system, otherwise the shoot won‚Äôt be as successful as it can be.‚ÄĚ
¬†The breeding season starts in earnest next month, with the first hatches due in mid-April. Birds are then on the rearing fields and released from June-July to make sure they are mature enough for the start of the season – 1 September for partridge and wildfowl, and 1 October for pheasant.
¬†Mr Powell added: ‚ÄúThe start of the season may seem like a long way away but the preparations have to be set in motion early on in the year, otherwise you‚Äôre playing catch-up.‚ÄúYou could say planning is everything.‚ÄĚ
¬†For more advice about estate and shoot management, contact Madeleys on 01952 727007,¬† or follow @MadeleysCS on Twitter.