IN THE KNOW: How to help en­sure safety through good com­mu­ni­ca­tion

As the sum­mer draws to a close, Char­lie Matthews is busy clean­ing up from the rear­ing sea­son, pre­par­ing for the par­tridge shoot­ing sea­son – and maybe even book­ing a hol­i­day!

Sporting Shooter - - Contents - WITH CHAR­LIE MATTHEWS

At the time of writ­ing this di­ary en­try (the be­gin­ning of Septem­ber), the shoot­ing sea­son is still a long way away for me as we don’t start shoot­ing un­til mid Oc­to­ber, but some of you will al­ready be knock­ing up the days. I’m hav­ing to re­think my plan for the sea­son as the dry weather has caused crop fail­ure on two of my drives, one of which I was hop­ing to use more this year as it is sit­u­ated on a rise and can cre­ate some crack­ing par­tridge shoot­ing. The boss reck­ons he can sort it in time so I hope he has some­thing up his sleeve other than a rain dance.

Other than that, on the shoot side of things, I’m busy dog­ging-in, feed­ing, dog­ging-in, chas­ing up beat­ers for this sea­son and dog­ging-in again.

I had a deer get into a pen the first day the birds went to wood, which re­sulted in a lot of scat­tered poults who still haven’t re­mem­bered where home is. Worst luck still, on one of the sides of the wood, there is a very large field of maize so get­ting them back isn’t go­ing to be fully pos­si­ble un­til that comes off.

On the game farm side of things, the rear­ing sea­son may be draw­ing to a close, but there is still lots to do as ev­ery­thing needs to be cleaned out and dis­in­fected ready for the next sea­son. Some peo­ple will leave this un­til the end of the shoot­ing sea­son to do dur­ing Feb­ru­ary but, in my opin­ion, it can’t be left over win­ter from a dis­ease and hy­giene point of view.

In a pre­vi­ous is­sue, I shared with read­ers that the game farm had been lucky in ben­e­fit­ting from

a Euro­pean grant from the Ru­ral De­vel­op­ment Pro­gramme for Eng­land. Well, one of the things we have done is to plas­tic-clad the rear­ing barns, which has made it pos­si­ble to eas­ily clean and dis­in­fect be­tween batches, as well as mak­ing the end-of-sea­son deep clean eas­ier.

The in­te­rior of the roof was sprayed with foam in­su­la­tion be­fore be­ing clad and this has made a big dif­fer­ence in keep­ing the heat in.

Sadly, we don’t have the space im­me­di­ately out­side the rear of the barn to cre­ate veranda runs bolted onto the back to save dou­ble han­dling. In­stead, we built a mod­u­lar sys­tem of fin­ish­ing-off huts and grids that can be dis­man­tled and cleaned at the end of the sea­son.

We are cur­rently in the mid­dle of sort­ing the lay­ing par­tridges, separat­ing them into flocks of cocks and hens. This han­dling gives us the chance to check the health of the birds and trim any beaks or claws as nec­es­sary and to carry out any re­pairs or al­ter­ations to their lay­ing nest boxes. The cocks will be put un­der ar­ti­fi­cial light­ing ear­lier than the hens as they take a bit more gee­ing up to get them in the mood for the spring lay­ing.

Over the win­ter, we will be mak­ing more of our home­made lay­ing boxes as we have found that the wire we use for the floor­ing has been much more gen­tle on the birds’ feet than com­mer­cially avail­able lay­ing boxes. So although one rear­ing sea­son is only just clos­ing, we are al­ready pre­par­ing for the next one.

Hear­ing this, the girl­friend brought home some hol­i­day brochures the other day and is threat­en­ing to drag me away in Feb­ru­ary. I told her that it is com­pletely up to her where we go, which made her happy... on the one pro­viso that it’s got to be some­where I can shoot some­thing! I’m look­ing for­ward to see­ing what she comes up with!

The raised par­tridge grids help con­trol dis­ease

Even in dry weather, runs can quickly be­come a breed­ing ground for dis­ease

The dog­ging-in team are get­ting a real work­out this year

The end-of-batch clean out is eas­ier thanks to the plas­tic coat­ing through­out the barn

Plas­tic-clad ceil­ings and walls have re­juvinated an old barn

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