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5 tips for a successful game bird release

Dr Kenny Nutting BVetMed MRCVS

Moving through the season and into the release period, it is important to remember the impact that the changes in the environment can have on game birds. At St David’s we work closely with our clients to assist them during the pheasant and partridge release periods, providing them with management and veterinary advice on the small changes that can be made in order to ensure the successful release of birds.

The biggest concern during the release period is the risk of disease which can be caused by a number of factors including; changes to the environment, instability in the gut caused through stress, unfamiliar equipment and sanitisation issues, as well as parasites such as worms that the birds will be increasingly exposed to post-release.

We have created helpful release guides for our clients which have been followed year on year, and collectively they have proven to minimise risk factors such as the introduction of disease, which subsequently aids the reduction in the use of antibiotics across the farms, shoots and estates that we work with.

Here are some of our tips as you prepare for the release period:

1 – Pellet size – We would recommend that you continue to feed the birds the same size pellet that they have been consuming through the rearing period as this will reduce the risk of a drop in feeding.

2 – Water drinkers – Where possible, provide the same style water drinkers as the birds have been previously using. This will make them recognisable and encourage the birds to use them once they have been released.

3 – Drinker sanitisation – Drinkers should be sanitised with a stabilised silver hydrogen peroxide based cleaner to ensure a thorough sanitisation of the drinker lines, to prevent the risk of disease or introduction of harmful bacteria to the gut. We would recommend Aqua Clean, which is available via Poultry Pharm, as it effectively prevents deposits and build-up of organic material such as biofilm, which can harvest bacteria and mould within your drinker systems.

4 – Promote good gut health – Using water acidifiers such as Ultimate Acid for the first 2 – 4 weeks after release can help to promote good gut health. This product works by helping to stabilise the antibacterial activity in the gut and reducing the risk of levels of protozoa such as Hexamita.

5 – Birds from different sources – We would always suggest that birds from different sources should not be released into the same enclosure as this can increase the risk of disease transfer and cause additional stress to the birds.

6 – Keep partridge on pellet feed for as long as possible –  We always say…’no pellet, no partridge!’ 

For more information on our guide to a successful release period, you can contact your local vet or field services personnel on email via or through phoning 01392 872932 to speak to a member of the team.

Originally written for Guns On Pegs