Gamekeepers’ Welfare Trust

Poultry Health Services is pleased to support the Gamekeepers’ Welfare Trust who exist to support gamekeepers, stalkers and ghillies, and their dependents past and present.

Like all other walks of life mental health can affect us all and the GWT provides a confidential listening service with information and support on this and a number of other issues including retirement, redundancy, housing and employment issues.

GWT can provide financial grants for gamekeepers, stalkers and ghillies and their families in times of hardship, ill health and retirement.  Small grants are available for young people making gamekeeping their career.  The helpline is a key part of the service and they can be contacted on 0300 1233088.

Reducing Antibiotic Use in Gamebirds

The Game Farmers’ Association has been collecting antibiotic prescribing data from gamebird vets and working with the Veterinary Medicines Directorate towards an agreed antibiotic reduction target for the sector.

This joint communication provides a best practice guide and is intended for all UK gamebird rearers, any shoots that release game, game feed suppliers, vets who look after gamebirds and everyone else with an interest in gamebird husbandry and game shooting.
2018 Joint Communication on AB Reduction


Netherlands – H5N6 confirmed in fattening ducks

The Dutch have notified an outbreak of HPAI H5N6 in a flock of 28,886 fattening ducks in Kamperveen in the north eastern part of the country.
On 13 March 2018, a 3 km surveillance zone and a 10 km protection zone have been established. In the 3 km zone there are four other premises. All susceptible animals on the infected premises have been killed. All premises in the 3 km zone have been screened. All samples of the screened premises tested negative. This H5N6 subtype is a reassortment linked to H5N8 and not the Asian zoonotic H5N6.


1. Texas
On 9th March, the US confirmed an outbreak of LPAI H7N1 in a flock of 24,091 broiler breeder flock in Texas:
As part of routine, pre-slaughter testing and surveillance for H5/H7 avian influenza, H7N1 low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI) was detected in a commercial broiler breeder flock based upon H7 PCR and antibody to H7 and N1. Partial HA sequencing determined the H7 to be a low pathogenic virus of North American wild bird lineage. Further characterization is pending virus recovery. The flock exhibited a slight increase in mortality and a decrease in egg production. Depopulation of the premises is underway. The USDA Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and the Texas Animal Health Commission are conducting a comprehensive epidemiological investigation of this incident and have implemented enhanced surveillance and testing within 10km of this finding.

2. Missouri
LPAI H7N1 confirmed on 22/02/18 in a commercial turkey flock of 20,000 birds.
As part of routine, pre-slaughter testing and surveillance for H5/H7 Avian Influenza, H7N1 presumptive low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI) was detected in a healthy commercial meat turkey flock based upon H7 PCR and antibody to H7 and N1; further characterization is pending virus recovery. There have been no clinical signs of illness or increased mortality on the premises. This is the first detection of H7 LPAI in commercial poultry in the United States for 2018. The turkeys will be depopulated through controlled marketing. The USDA Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and the Missouri Department of Agriculture are conducting a comprehensive epidemiological investigation and have implemented enhanced surveillance and testing related to this finding. Two additional commercial poultry premises located within the 10km zone were tested negative for influenza virus.

PHS to Discuss Use of Antibiotics at Game Management Evening


Game Management Evening

Thursday 22nd March | 6.30pm | Hartpury College, Gloucestershire

PHS vet Christian Blake-Dyke will be talking about the great strides the game industry made in 2017 to reduce the use of antibiotics. But the work does not end there – the game industry still needs to reduce antibiotic use and Christian will be discussing practical ways in which game farms and shoots can reduce antibiotic use whilst rearing higher quality birds at less cost.

Andrew Stringer from the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust discussing the potential reintroduction of pine martens to the Forest of Dean and Wye Valley.

Test the latest thermal/night vision technology with Thomas Jacks.

Doors open at 6.30pm.

Raffle on the night with proceeds going to Gamekeepers Welfare Trust and other educational projects.

Admission FREE thanks to our kind sponsors and Hartpury College.

If you have any further questions then please contact Regional Officer Sam Walker on

Relocation of Retford Services

On 1st June 2017 Poultry Health Services, Minster Vets & Retford Poultry Partnership were integrated under the new “Poultry Health Services” brand as part of an overall plan to improve our customer services and simplify the brand awareness in the market.

As part of the review of customer services, we have identified a number of benefits in changing to “Practice Hubs” which will allow us to centralise our vets and administration teams.  This will provide our customers with a greater level of consistency of attending vets, more array of services and better value for money.

The transition to practice hubs will mean that some of the current services offered through Retford will transition to Sutton Bonnington with effect from Monday 29th January 2018; others will not be and we have contacted all current Retford clients to advise them of the impact to them.  Whilst we have aimed to contact all current clients, we appreciate that we may have missed some.   Consequently, should you not have received any communication from us, please contact the Sutton Bonnington practice on 01159 516551.

The details for the Sutton Bonington practice are:  College Road, Sutton Bonington, Loughborough, LE12 5RA, Tel: 01159 516551.

Whilst the decision to close Retford was a difficult one to make, we firmly believe that it will benefit our clients.

Stuart Hedley

Commercial Director – Poultry.

Veterinary visits to gamebird farm

Paul Jeavons of Worcestershire Game Farm and chair of the GFA Health and Welfare committee writes:

With my health and welfare commitments and my position in RUMA, I have decided to make an effort to reduce the amount of antibiotic/medicine used, year on year, on my game farm.

I have wondered, when I see another game farmer’s advertisements state ‘birds delivered with relevant post mortem/health certificate’, what it actually meant. I presumed this extra cost to rearing would be very expensive but was in an effort to regain sales after a high incidence of disease, in the previous season, when problems had inadvertently been passed on to their customers.

With slight trepidation, I contacted my vets, PHS, and ran it past them. I asked for a weekly visit for 12-14 weeks and requested a Thursday as chicks could be examined at 2-3 days and poults before they left at 7-8 weeks.

To my relief, they already had customers who they visited weekly and a price per hour was agreed which included as many post mortems (PM’s) as were needed plus the findings and reports. Most visits were from the same vet, which kept continuity, but holidays etc. meant I did have a different one occasionally.

For the first few weeks it was a case of showing the vet around the system and explaining how we operate, (every game farmer I know does it differently!). A PM room was created in the egg room which had plenty of light and suitable work surfaces which could be easily cleaned. A roll of clear polythene was purchase on which to perform each PM. This was then bagged up and put in our incinerator.

To begin with it was chick examination up to 4 weeks of age and fresh dead chicks were bagged and labelled from the morning rounds to be PM’d later. I tended to be the ‘scribe’ as the vet dissected each bird. The visits lasted 2-2 ½ hours and it gave me a chance to communicate my issues and management problems and discuss how other rearers and those in the poultry industry tackled different disease/management problems.

The benefit of the whole experience was a very calming influence. Rather than finding a problem and having to rush to the vet, ours being a 3 hour round trip, and almost impossible on a very busy rearing day, I knew after a few weeks of visits what we had and what was likely to show up in the later batches. Also, on the legal side, we had a post mortem to back up all medications which showed in our veterinary medicines book.

Once we got near poult delivery time, we could PM 4 batches of Pheasants and do Cocci counts on 2 groups of RLP each week. Interestingly, we found low levels of Cocci in 5 week Pheasants that looked fine but then could be monitored daily. Due to the kind weather these went to 7 weeks old without an outbreak and could be treated prior to release saving on earlier prophylactic treatment. We also found low levels of Hexamita in RLP at 8 weeks. This was monitored and it never got any worse. I was advised not to treat them and they went to the shoot and have showed no symptoms.

I even went as far as photocopying the relevant PM reports and including them with my GFA delivery document. Full time keepers appreciated this but some of the smaller customers were baffled not having had experience of disease/medication.

Practically speaking, it goes against the grain to put 8-10 good poults in a crate to be euthanased later from each of your selected groups and of course is a cost, but overall we have used fewer drugs and more importantly used the correct drugs for each scenario and not once during the season did we have to carry a bag of dead diseased birds to the incinerator! This must have saved £1000’s and what is more I had plenty of spare at the end of the season.

The GFA has always promoted teamwork between game farmer, game keeper, feed supplier and Vets to work together for a successful release.

Vet’s Point of View:
It was very rewarding to be able to follow through Paul’s birds on a weekly basis. By going to the site regularly I got a better feel for his rearing system and issues that affect it. As Paul says there is a huge variance in the rearing methods of different game farms and the disease pressures they face. The weekly visits allowed us to see problems coming and also allowed young staff that Paul is training to show their skill in recognising potential disease. This monitoring of groups as they went through allowed us to reduce medicine use and losses on site. From the point of view of organising our work having a regular weekly slot allowed us to plan our manpower which makes farm visits easier to fit in around our other commitments to the poultry industry. With the experience of this year in the bag we will be able to plan with Paul for the next rearing season and hopefully continue to improve the health of the birds on site, increase profitability and reduce his stress levels.

Christian Blake-Dyke B Vet Med MRCVS

October 2017 Newsletter

In our October Newsletter you’ll find information about our AI road shows, BFREPA and Poultry on the Piste Conference. Plus how to get your hands on a FREE medicine book.

We’d also like to remind you that we are launching our new database on 1st October. In order to use this successfully we require more information about your housing and bird details.

Please return the forms which were attached with the previous newsletter to your local branch. This will allow us as a company to provide a comprehensive database that both you, as a client and us as your vets can benefit from.

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