On 10th and 11th September, the British Game Alliance (BGA) finished its training course for its shoot assessors at Loddington House, the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) scientific centre.
The course was delivered by the GWCT and the BGA’s auditing partners Acoura. One of the BGA’s principal aims is the delivery of credible shoot standards. A key element in establishing that credibility is regular shoot auditing, which is why this training session was vital for the professionals who will be undertaking those audits. The assessors will start auditing BGA member shoots from the 1st week of Oct right through the year. This is a monumental step for the shooting community in ensuring we continue to raise standards and set a bar for all to reach.
The first of the two-day sessions started with Dr Roger Draycott, GWCT’s Head of Advisory Services, giving the group an overview of game management in the UK. Dr Draycott went into great detail with regard to the health and welfare of game birds, their dietary requirements and habitat management. However, the group’s main focus was discussing the BGA audit process, the records that shoots would need to keep and the practicalities of how the audits would be conducted when looking for best practice in the field.
The second day saw the group look through the records kept by the Allerton shoot at Loddington Estate. Performing this part of the audit as a group allowed the auditors to standardise the approach they would take in future. This exercise proved very worthwhile as later that day the group travelled to Nottingham to audit North Lodge Farm. The shoot staff had gathered the information that was required for the audit, ensuring everything ran smoothly. The BGA will be issuing its members with a record book to ensure member shoots have a centralised place to document the relevant information, which will greatly help with the ease of assessments.
Chris Butterfield from North Lodge Farm said: “We wanted to be one of the first BGA accredited shoots because its continuing existence is so central to what we do here.
“It dictates so much of our wildlife habitat management and conservation land choices. It provides full and part time employment and brings together many from our local community. It brings the family generations together too. It’s hard to think of a better way to demonstrate how the countryside works and what makes it tick.”
North Lodge Farm Gamekeeper, Matt Tipping added: “All our game goes to those taking part on shoot days or we process it here into sausages, pies, burgers as well as more adventurous recipes. We’re sure the BGA initiative will make people more aware of this abundant, healthy food source.”
Dr Roger Draycott, GWCT’s Head of Advisory Services said: “The British Game Alliance is underpinned by a comprehensive assurance scheme which will raise standards within the game industry. Having had our own GWCT shoot at Loddington audited, the process has been a great opportunity to review our practices to ensure we are producing game meat to the highest standards and that all of our efforts to provide sustainable shooting are contributing to a system which delivers tremendous benefits for wildlife and the wider countryside.”