William Powell Sporting is delighted to have spoken with Dr Kenny Nutting BVetMed MRCVS, Director of St David’s Poultry Team to provide an early insight into the impact COVID-19 has had on the Game Farm industry so far.
What are the impacts that you’re seeing as a result of COVID-19 on Game Farms this far?
“Initially we saw the pandemic cause a number of cancellations of poults, chicks and eggs from a range of different sized shoots, estates and farms. As time has moved on several shoots, which had planned to cancel their season, have reverted their decisions and are now planning to run on a reduced calendar; with the general consensus that there is going be an average drop of 25%. We have seen two or three batches of pheasants and partridges so far, however there are less partridge as a result of some early decisions that had to be made at the start of the lockdown. The chicks we have seen have been a superb quality, mostly coming from the UK, Poland, Portugal, Spain and France, which has been fantastic to see.”
How do you think it will impact the wider shooting industry?
“We must all play our part in this COVID-19 fight, but also try to look beyond it. How this disease outbreak has developed is very similar to many veterinary diseases we see. There is always a peak of a disease and then a reduction, with some fluctuations along the way. It is noticeable that some areas of the country have been severely affected whilst others, as of today, have seen much lower levels of the disease. Of course this is a very fluid period of time and as lockdown restrictions are eased, we may see areas who have so far experienced much lower levels of COVD-19, particularly those with more countryside and rural communities, begin to have higher rates of infection. Views are still changing weekly, however life will have to continue after this crisis has settled and shooting will be vital to kick start many rural economies again.”
How should game farms best use this uncertain period of time?
“COVID-19 has provided an opportunity for each company involved with shooting to look closely at their current operations and functions. I’ve heard many game farmers looking into how much it actually costs to produce a poult and how they can become more efficient overall. For example, what could be done to either save labour costs or time to ensure there is more time to concentrate on looking at the birds and monitoring for abnormalities. Here we can look closely at efficiencies such as, brooding set-ups, feeding strategy and moving fields correctly to avoid disease outbreaks.”
When was the Game Division of St David’s Poultry team founded and why?
“Alan Beynon BVM&S MRCVS founded the Game Division in 1999 following an interest in game bird health and medicine from a few local shoots. The practice is now the largest independent game vet practice in the UK and Ireland. The combined knowledge and experience or our large team of game bird vets offer proactive solutions, focusing on preventative measures and health planning as well as providing innovative and practical advice to help achieve the best quality birds for flying.”
If you would like to contact the St David’s Game Bird Services team for more information on any of these items, please visit https://www.stdavids-gamebirds.co.uk .