Shoot Benchmarking 2015/16 Season

Shoot Benchmarking 2016
Shoot Benchmarking 2015/16 Season

30 August 2016, words by Andrew Teanby

Costs stabilise and shoots are optimistic about the 2016/17 season

141 shoots took part in our industry leading 2015/16 season Shoot Benchmarking survey.

The results show the key to profitable performance is the aggregation of marginal gains. The biggest difference in performance between profitable and loss-making shoots is in fixed costs, especially those relating to staff. But the difference in staff costs is not a race to the bottom, as the salaries of full-time Head Keepers on profitable shoots are higher – the difference is that on profit-making shoots they look after more birds.


There is also a difference in shoot performance. Profitable shoots put down more birds, have more let days, larger bag sizes, have higher returns, and generally charge more per bird. All of the above translates into substantial differences in the income each let day generates, of £916 profit per let day compared with a -£1,396 loss for the loss-making shoots.

Overall total costs per bird put down were within 1% of the 2014/15 average.

Shoots have also increased their charges by 4.6%, leading to a small reduction in the proportion of shoots making a loss.

General optimism and bookings are both up relative to last season; like last season, half the shoots are planning to increase their charges for the 2016/17 season. 28% are also intending to release more birds this summer, which is a larger proportion than 22% last year.



Poult prices and charges per bird increase

Price paid per poult (£)

Price paid per poult

Source: Savills Research

The cost of a pheasant or partridge poult has risen by 7% and 11% respectively since 2009/10, but there was little change this season.

Price charged per bird (excluding VAT)

Price charged per bird

Source: Savills Research

Shoots have increased their charges per bird since 2009/10 (by 17% for pheasants and 23% for partridges).



Average salaries continue to rise

Head Keepers salaries have increased since 2009/10, to an average of just over £23,000. The average this year is 5.7% higher than last. Across all staff roles shoots reported that they were increasing staff salaries by an average of 2.5%. There has been a small increase in the proportion of Head Keepers receiving a pension to 59% from 55% in 2014/15. We expect the proportion will increase further as more shoots prepare for auto enrolment.

Staff salaries

Source: Savills Research

Beaters and pickers up pay

Beaters and pickers up pay is the fourth biggest cost for shoots. The majority of shoots pay beaters £25 - 30 per day and pickers up £30 - 40. Day rates tend to increase in £5 increments, and average rates have increased by 15% for beaters and 19% for pickers up since 2009/10. However the cost per bird put down has not increased as much, suggesting less staff are used on the day, or days are larger and/or fewer.



Variable costs rising and fixed costs falling since 2009/10

Total variable costs per bird put down

Total variable costs per bird put down

Source: Savills Research

Average variable costs are rising, but the range remains large. £2.20 - 2.80 (or 25-30%) difference between the upper and lower quartiles of variable costs. Variable costs have risen by 12% since 2009/10. This is mainly due to feed costs rising by 18%; beaters / pickers up costs and bird costs are within 2% of their 2009/10 level.

Total fixed costs per bird put down

Total fixed costs per bird put down

Source: Savills Research

Total fixed costs have fallen since 2009/10 (-23%). Fixed costs for the bottom 25% remain £3.00 - 4.00 (or 50-60%) higher than for the top 25% of shoots.

Total costs per bird put down*

Total costs per bird put down

Source: Savills Research

Total costs fell by 1% compared with 2014/15 while charges per bird have risen by 4-6%. This has led to fewer shoots making a loss (35%), compared with 37% in 2014/15 and 59% in 2013/14.

*This only includes shoots which provided variable and fixed cost data and so is not the sum of total variable costs plus total fixed costs as those calculations included shoots that only provided one set of costs.



Shooting encourages environmental management which benefits habitats and wildlife.

  • 70% of shoots shot over land that is in a paid agri-environment habitat improvement scheme.
  • 16% shot over land that is in a voluntary habitat improvement scheme, like Campaign for the Farmed Environment.
  • 50% pay for habitat improvement themselves, to benefit the shoot.
  • 83% have established buffer strips and / or field corners.
  • 69% have planted woodland in the last 10 years (41 acres per shoot on average).
  • 97% feed game birds after the shooting season.
  • 55% feed songbirds voluntarily. 




Benchmarking acts as a financial management tool and identifies areas of strength and weakness in a shoot’s performance so corrective action can be taken. For each participating shoot, we produce (for free!) a detailed 17 page report analysing their data against an overall benchmark, and a group of similar sized shoots. All data is held entirely confidentially. We thank those who have taken part, and encourage others to follow their lead, please contact Andrew Teanby to register your interest in the next survey.



Shoots face increasing pressure to demonstrate sustainability and measureable biodiversity gain arising from their activities. To meet this, the GWCT’s experienced team of advisors offers bespoke Shoot Biodiversity Assessments, which provide an independent expert report on best practice and biodiversity gain on individual shoots, covering release sites, feeding, game and habitat management and predation control. Contact for further details.


Key contacts

Andrew Teanby

Andrew Teanby

Rural Research

+44 (0) 1522 507 312


David Steel

David Steel

Head of Office
Head of Sporting


+44 (0) 1200 411 050


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