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.

Read More

Open day at our new Barton practice Thursday 21st September

Come and join us at the open day of our new Barton practice!

Thursday 21st September
9am – 5pm

Barton Village Hall, Garstang Road, Barton, PR3 5AA.

Meet our new team, and get exclusive offers on the day plus the chance to win amazing prizes in our charity raffle! There will be a hog roast and drinks for you to enjoy.

Please RSVP to Melanie on 07507 809582 or email

09.15 – Arrival tea and coffee
10.00 – Introductions
10.15 – Zeljka Ervacinovic, CEVA: New Solutions for Poultry Business
10.50 – Brian Kenyon, ABN: Broiler Nutrition
11.40 – Sara Perez, Poultry Health Services: PHS Our Journey to Innovation
12.30 – Hog roast, drinks and networking
14.00 – Craig Goddard, MSD: Breakthrough Red Mite Control (layers)
14.35 – Alan Pearson, Poultry Health Services: A look back over this year’s game season
15.15 – Charity raffle
15.30 – End of session.


Leading poultry vets join forces under PHS brand

To help provide the progressive service that today’s modern commercial poultry enterprises demand, Poultry Health Services, Minster Poultry and Gamebird Vets, and Retford Poultry Partnership are joining forces under the one name Poultry Health Services (PHS).

Poultry is the most innovative and dynamic sector in modern agriculture and the Origin group recognises its responsibility to ensure the sector is serviced by a modern, efficient and forward thinking veterinary service.

The needs of all poultry producers, from domestic poultry keepers, to commercial meat and egg production, through to the science-led breeding and hatchery sector, have changed.  PHS, as a dedicated modern veterinary service provider, has developed to meet the individual needs of all producers.  No longer can a vet dictate how and what service they provide – all producers deserve a bespoke service, tailor-made to each client and the departments within their business. This is the key to success.

Clients are the primary focus of the whole PHS team. The merger brings together leading poultry vets, laboratory teams and experienced practice support which will allow all clients to benefit from the combined strengths and expertise of each individual business, and provide access to the full range of dedicated support services.

PHS offers internationally acclaimed veterinary care for all poultry keepers, including elite breeding stock, backed by a full range of diagnostic capabilities as required by modern poultry keepers. The Minster team delivers high quality services across large and small layers, broiler producers and gamebirds and the merger with PHS will ensure the breadth of the UK poultry industry can benefit from its consultancy, laboratory and training services. Retford, one of the UK’s oldest established poultry practices run by a team with over 35 years of experience in the health and welfare of all varieties of birds, bring their unique and committed service to the new combined business.

Evidence Based Service – Insight, Innovation, Results

  • Services and support are evidence-based and outcomes are monitored to ensure the advice delivers positive, and sustainable, production results
  • Combined strength of cutting edge integrated poultry laboratories and the UK’s leading production animal reference laboratory for accurate diagnosis and treatment
  • Supported by senior consulting vets and an active research team
  • Increased range of laboratory tests
  • In house testing delivers reduced test turnaround time
  • Online access to secure website so that clients can check current and historical flock records, treatment records and laboratory test results

Better value medicines

Origin, PHS’s parent company, is able to offer smart and effective medicine sourcing and direct supply based on aggregate group buying power plus innovative partnerships with major pharmaceutical companies.


NEW Poultry Courses!

We are in the process of organising courses for Winter 2017. If you are interested in a specific course, please contact and let us know what you are interested in and we will contact you later in the year once the dates and the content is finalised.