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So my little shoot I look after is extending but not putting birds on the new side till next year. was looking at putting some ex layers on it for this season three nice woods and few fields in between with bird mix in them 

how much do  ex layers cost roughly 

what time are they normally for sale etc 

and how would you go about putting them on there just release with feeders scattered or in a partridge pen I can erect over there it’s 16ft x 16ft how many would I get in there  and when to release 

 

any help much appreciated thanks 

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Last ones we bought were around the 2.20 mark, somewhere around there. 
Take your own crates if you’re collecting, if possible. 
We usually bought around 125 and ensured there was a couple of cocks in each crate, and they were due for collection first week in June. 
Our pen is around 80mts by 50, so they sat in there comfortably. You should be able to find online how many you should stock per square metre, I can’t recall what is recommended now. 
We would release into the pen and feed them in there until they had properly feathered up again and generally looked fit and well. Some can look pretty knocked about when you first get them. 
I wouldn’t be too concerned about the time of release, most will have released themselves long before you know it. 
A mate simply releases his ex layers straight onto his land, and doesn’t bother with a pen. 

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I used to get 500 ex layers each year and simply released them in 3 different points in the middle of the shoot. Mainly near potato or greens crops. Never suffered much, if any crop damage, but did provide as many feeders and water as I could manage.  I think I was paying around £2, but it was a few years ago. I also did some grey partridge for a few years, I did put them into portable release pens and always kept a few back until the start of the season. It worked well enough for the few shoot days that we had. I used plastic leg rings of different colours each year to try and keep a check on the results.

Edited by Westley
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I would think you could pick some up for around £2 this year maybe a bit more.  Your pen ?  Sixteen feet by sixteen feet ?  the size of a large living room will not sensibly hold more than ten at most. The pen needs to be much larger.  I used to release ex layers in five pens and at a density of about 5sq meters per bird, the more room the better.

If your stuck with that small area then better to just release them into a central wooded area with plenty of feeders and water.    Bare in mind those explayers will not have been used to going up to roost, so you are going to have to be seriously hard on vermin well before they arrive.  

We did wing tag ours for the first year to see how they wandered. Amazing just how far a pheasant will walk looking for food. so always set any outside feeders in a large circle so they ''hopefully...will wander from feeder to feeder and come back to the start point.

Best of luck.

on edit..just thought, try and locate some old English Black Necks as we found that these held better than others.   

For quality birds Walkers at Enville  (no relation)

Edited by Walker570
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Hello mate 2.00_250 each We have to pay for ours depending on time of year also like said you need a bigger pen with a bit of cover for protection with a top on to protect from foxes etc . You really need to release in middle of shoot because they will walk a long way if not the surroundings they feel happy in,We release on Bigish farm so not to bad but they are very reluctant to get of the ground at night when released best of luck.

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Yes plan to have two pens with poults but not till next year but I have the land to use from this season coming hence why I asked about Ex layers as the funds aren’t  Available until start of next year for it all so just trying to find a way to few birds on there for when we walk about that’s all 

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54 minutes ago, 8 shot said:

Times your expected return by at least 10 and you'll be some where near. Never had any success wth em. If you have the time have poults. Cheaper in the long run

 

Multiply your expected return by ten? What do you mean? 

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2 hours ago, Scully said:

Multiply your expected return by ten? What do you mean? 


I think he means if you want to finish the season having shot 100 birds, then times that by 10, so you’d have to put down 1,000 birds. 10% return. 
 

Now would would be very poor. 

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8 hours ago, Lloyd90 said:


I think he means if you want to finish the season having shot 100 birds, then times that by 10, so you’d have to put down 1,000 birds. 10% return. 
 

Now would would be very poor. 

Ah, with you. A bit slow there. 👍

I suppose it depends where your shoot is. We always did ok, but we’re surrounded by other shoots.

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Hello, I've tried ex layers on a few occasions, never a success. May be cheaper to buy but they arrive earlier in year, hence need more feed, time, medication etc. I do not have any neighbours that release birds and my ex layers soon disappear after release. Returns were always very poor,poults are always more successful on my small DIY shoot. Regards

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20 minutes ago, benbobailey said:

Hello, I've tried ex layers on a few occasions, never a success. May be cheaper to buy but they arrive earlier in year, hence need more feed, time, medication etc. I do not have any neighbours that release birds and my ex layers soon disappear after release. Returns were always very poor,poults are always more successful on my small DIY shoot. Regards

I think much depends in what type of shoot you have/want. We chose ex layers because we all worked full time, so there was no one to tend to poults and all that that entails. 
We just put them in the pen, ensure they have plenty of water and food and apart from that they’re left to their own devices. 
Yes, they  are more prone to wandering than reared poults, but I think they have a role to fill for certain purposes. 
As they produce loads of eggs, we bought a small Brinsea incubator and reared many from eggs ( or rather the landowners mother did ) but we weren’t allowed to shoot them! 🙂

To be fair they weren’t ready til mid season or later anyhow. 

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1 hour ago, Scully said:

I think much depends in what type of shoot you have/want. We chose ex layers because we all worked full time, so there was no one to tend to poults and all that that entails. 
We just put them in the pen, ensure they have plenty of water and food and apart from that they’re left to their own devices. 
Yes, they  are more prone to wandering than reared poults, but I think they have a role to fill for certain purposes. 
As they produce loads of eggs, we bought a small Brinsea incubator and reared many from eggs ( or rather the landowners mother did ) but we weren’t allowed to shoot them! 🙂

To be fair they weren’t ready til mid season or later anyhow. 

You are absolutely correct Scully. In some circumstances then you have to take your chances with ex layers. We had a few years when we used them and accepted the difficulties so put more down. We then fortunately had a retired farmer who needed something to do and became our Keeper full time with a gun in the shoot and that worked bgriliiantly until we had to move to another area.  We then went back to ex layers on about 800acres with lots of cover and eight small 4 acre copses with a pen in each and that worked very well but we had feeders everywhere and on every Saturday a team was out with a trailer full of feed to top them all up.  It worked very well for a walk and stand shoot.

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I’ve don’t know a lot about having ex layers and how to keep Them as such hence the post 

but if I need to build pens for them I might as well just wait till next year when we go the poult pen 

Because I have the 16ftx16ft partridge pen I paid not being used wondered what I could do with it but way to small 

what sort of pens do people build for them then as they have covers on 

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, Walker570 said:

You are absolutely correct Scully. In some circumstances then you have to take your chances with ex layers. We had a few years when we used them and accepted the difficulties so put more down. We then fortunately had a retired farmer who needed something to do and became our Keeper full time with a gun in the shoot and that worked bgriliiantly until we had to move to another area.  We then went back to ex layers on about 800acres with lots of cover and eight small 4 acre copses with a pen in each and that worked very well but we had feeders everywhere and on every Saturday a team was out with a trailer full of feed to top them all up.  It worked very well for a walk and stand shoot.

Yeah, very much what we did....loads of feeders which three of us topped up each Sunday morning. We thinned out woods and planted hedgerows and a small section of cover crop, plus built stiles and loads of other work.  It’s strange how most are always too busy to help out, but manage to make every shoot day even at short notice! 🙂
Ours is just a very informal walkabout roughshoot with friends, but because there are other shoots in close proximity we once had returns of nearly 100%! 😀

 

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If you can't provide a release pen for them then my advice would be not to bother.  The old-school general rule of thumb is one yard of perimeter fence for every bird, but I'm sure that's going to be variable depending on the habitat contained within the pen.

How far is it to the new land from the closest existing pen?  Maybe you could put a few extra in there if there's space and feed them out to the new drives?  Or even extend the pen.  Would save a lot of hassle.

You have to think along these lines:  Each pen requires a daily walk-round the outside to check the fence and electric.  You need a water tank, which you have to monitor daily.  Then you need to check the drinkers are working correctly and swill them out.  Then you need to monitor and top up where necessary the feeders.  Then you have to scatter a bit of loose feed however you prefer doing it.

Now think how much effort you're going to have to put in every day with, for example, 500 birds in one pen vs 500 birds split between two pens.  You're looking at an extra hour every day for weeks on end just to care for the same amount of birds.

Of course, the flip side to spreading your birds about is if you get a horrible disease in one pen, or a tawny/buzzard latch on to it, or two-legged vermin interfering in some way..... only half of your birds will suffer.

I keeper a fairly big chunk of our shoot, with two release pens and 6 drives encompassing a mixture of covers, plantations and woodland.  2021 will be my 8th season at it so I'm by no means a beginner but not carrying the experience of a lifelong full-time keeper.  I've only ever had experience of ex-layers - it's the way our syndicate has always done it and the shoot captain is probably not going to change his opinion any time soon!

One thing you have to bear in mind is there's two types of ex-layer.  If you buy them from a game farm they'll be "closed flock", in other words they'll be last year's hatched birds the game farm has kept back for this year's laying stock.  Depending on the setup of the game farm they might not have ever been outside.... certainly they will never have had "freedom" any more than possibly access to a large fenced-off field.  They'll have been kept clipped too.

The other type of ex-layer is the caught-up bird, typically from a keeper or a small-scale game farm.  They've lived wild.  They've evaded the guns for 1/2/3 or more seasons. 

We always had closed flock birds from a game farm but changed supplier for a couple of years once, to caught-up birds from a keeper.  The difference was astounding.  We changed back again quickly.

My theory is that pheasants go through a psychological process of latching on to a "home" wood, once released, and they will only ever do that once in their life.  With caught-up birds they've already decided where their home is and it's somewhere miles away from your shoot!  As soon as they regain their freedom they do their utmost to go back home again.  I think this is where a lot of peoples' findings of ex-layers wandering comes from.

We've managed to produce returns ranging from 25% in a not-so-good year to 35% in a good one (I have a theory about the 35%, we put a lot more down that season but that's a conversation for another day)

So in summary I really wouldn't be put off by disparaging comments about ex-layers from all sorts of random people - it really is something you have to try for yourself to see if it works.  As long as you've got a pen to release them in.  A lot will depend on habitat and of course the most important thing... WATER!  Don't give them an excuse to walk more than 20yds to get a drink.  Last summer in the bigger of my two pens 650 birds were drinking 1000L a week at one point.

Good luck with it whichever way you go ;)

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7 hours ago, Jim Neal said:

If you can't provide a release pen for them then my advice would be not to bother.  The old-school general rule of thumb is one yard of perimeter fence for every bird, but I'm sure that's going to be variable depending on the habitat contained within the pen.

How far is it to the new land from the closest existing pen?  Maybe you could put a few extra in there if there's space and feed them out to the new drives?  Or even extend the pen.  Would save a lot of hassle.

You have to think along these lines:  Each pen requires a daily walk-round the outside to check the fence and electric.  You need a water tank, which you have to monitor daily.  Then you need to check the drinkers are working correctly and swill them out.  Then you need to monitor and top up where necessary the feeders.  Then you have to scatter a bit of loose feed however you prefer doing it.

Now think how much effort you're going to have to put in every day with, for example, 500 birds in one pen vs 500 birds split between two pens.  You're looking at an extra hour every day for weeks on end just to care for the same amount of birds.

Of course, the flip side to spreading your birds about is if you get a horrible disease in one pen, or a tawny/buzzard latch on to it, or two-legged vermin interfering in some way..... only half of your birds will suffer.

I keeper a fairly big chunk of our shoot, with two release pens and 6 drives encompassing a mixture of covers, plantations and woodland.  2021 will be my 8th season at it so I'm by no means a beginner but not carrying the experience of a lifelong full-time keeper.  I've only ever had experience of ex-layers - it's the way our syndicate has always done it and the shoot captain is probably not going to change his opinion any time soon!

One thing you have to bear in mind is there's two types of ex-layer.  If you buy them from a game farm they'll be "closed flock", in other words they'll be last year's hatched birds the game farm has kept back for this year's laying stock.  Depending on the setup of the game farm they might not have ever been outside.... certainly they will never have had "freedom" any more than possibly access to a large fenced-off field.  They'll have been kept clipped too.

The other type of ex-layer is the caught-up bird, typically from a keeper or a small-scale game farm.  They've lived wild.  They've evaded the guns for 1/2/3 or more seasons. 

We always had closed flock birds from a game farm but changed supplier for a couple of years once, to caught-up birds from a keeper.  The difference was astounding.  We changed back again quickly.

My theory is that pheasants go through a psychological process of latching on to a "home" wood, once released, and they will only ever do that once in their life.  With caught-up birds they've already decided where their home is and it's somewhere miles away from your shoot!  As soon as they regain their freedom they do their utmost to go back home again.  I think this is where a lot of peoples' findings of ex-layers wandering comes from.

We've managed to produce returns ranging from 25% in a not-so-good year to 35% in a good one (I have a theory about the 35%, we put a lot more down that season but that's a conversation for another day)

So in summary I really wouldn't be put off by disparaging comments about ex-layers from all sorts of random people - it really is something you have to try for yourself to see if it works.  As long as you've got a pen to release them in.  A lot will depend on habitat and of course the most important thing... WATER!  Don't give them an excuse to walk more than 20yds to get a drink.  Last summer in the bigger of my two pens 650 birds were drinking 1000L a week at one point.

Good luck with it whichever way you go

Thanks for the reply on the shoot now (150acres so not massive I have two pens I built which we put 500 across both pens (this year 800) the closest pen is quite a way from the other shoot as my one now is mostly fields with mix bird and two small belt like  woods 

then the other shoot is over the road but there is the owners house and some  paddocks between both 

the new shoot has three nice size woods fields with bird mix and a small valley runs through it ( before I was born it used to be a shoot putting down 4000 birds across 3 pens my dad used to shot there so knows the land well and it works 

so hence next year we’re putting pens and poults down 

it was more just for this season coming when we have are little walk rounds 

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