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Poults Or Ex-Layers?

This is a common debate between a lot of the smaller syndicates and rough shoots and to which is best and most effective during the season. You can find all sorts of opinions on this subject all over the web but is it really worth going for ex-layers when poults are available. 

It really depends on how you look at this as to which works out better for your shoot. To start with, cost is going to be a major factor in the decision (unless you’re on a huge well earning estate). Poults can cost you an arm and leg compared to that of the ex-layers. Usually this is for a reason. With the poults you’re more likely  receiving a healthy, high quality bird compared to the older ex-layers who could potentially have illnesses which are not wanted under any circumstances. Though this is not always he case ex-layers can be picked up for pittance in some areas which is, of course, the added benefit. 

Fortunately this year I’m putting down poults, thanks to a firm but fair budget, but this doesn’t mean a guaranteed success until the first shoot dawns. Ex-layers are well known for their capability to stray. They will go anywhere other than your cover strips making it more likely to find them in the local with a pint of ‘Old Speckled Hen’ than on a major drive. From my point of view a hell of a lot of feeding will encourage them to stay if carried out correctly but some birds are relentless in their travels. 

Although this debate has probably been running for the past eternity it all narrows down to how the shoot is managed and the budgets set at the beginning of the season as to whether poults or ex-layers are bought in. As said this year I am putting poults down so I will report back in the new year on this topic as to whether they performed as expected. 

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