Securing a Future
Veterinary Health Plans, Efficiency and Assurance by Dr Kenny Nutting BVetMed MRCVS St David’s Game Bird Services
Last year had a big impact on our sector and felt like many months of challenges and lingering unpredictability for all. However, myself and our team feel it also gave many in the game sector a chance to reflect on their businesses, take a closer look at operations and take new steps to become more efficient and sustainable for the future.
One of the major observations we saw was with less birds on the ground because of the pandemic, there was also a proportionate reduction in game bird disease. Now is the time to put in even more work to ensure that the reduced levels of disease are reflected in the next season and hopefully those that follow.
We have also seen an increased interest in sites recording data and using it to analyse and benchmark areas such as bird performance, profitability and returns, as well as mortality rates and how to reduce them. As a sector, this is important to better improve our set-ups and protect our businesses for the future. The process of introducing and upkeeping accurate data on-site also gives improved traceability of the birds and helps to improve the credibility of the sector, thus better aligning us with other food producing sectors such as poultry.
With many more joining the BGA assurance schemes for Game Farms and Shoots year on year, members will need to demonstrate attainment of a basic standard and to show they comply with best practice in the game industry.
A successful audit demonstrates to poult customers, guns, retailers and food businesses that the BGA assured game is sourced from members of the sector that achieve the highest health and welfare standards throughout the supply chain. Having worked closely with the BGA since its inception, at St David’s we believe that participating in this scheme will be hugely beneficial for the running of shoots and game farms going forward and ultimately for the sustainability of our sector.
Looking to the future of the industry as a whole, I have seen my role as a game vet evolve over the years. At St David’s we now often take a consultancy-based holistic approach when out on site. This means we review the whole infrastructure, systems and supply chains in place, in addition to the health and welfare of the birds, to help clients become efficient, sustainable and secure for the future.
These services are often provided under the Veterinary Health Plan (VHP), which are increasingly important for the future of the sector as we move towards self-regulation, as well as to ensure the ongoing health and welfare of the birds is the highest priority.
For VHP visits, we focus our conversations on lessons learnt from previous seasons, how we can prevent issues in the future as well as updating on important conversations we’re having around chick supply and disease prevention, such as key conversations and developments with Mycoplasma.
For more information, please visit www.stdavids-gamebirds.co.uk