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The Importance of Proper Poult Releasing and the British Game Alliance

Alan Beynon BVM&S MRCVS

We have started the release of poults onto the shoots and a lot of work has been carried out by our vets to improve the habitat in our problem release systems over the winter period so we are excited to see the results in the coming weeks.

We can see a strong demand for shooting but this has led to a shortage of pheasant chicks at the outset. The hens have been slow to produce eggs and the hatching has been average but as summer suddenly approached, we have seen a dramatic increase in egg numbers. This was also followed by an obvious compensatory increase in growth rates of chicks as Mother Nature went into top gear.

Our Practice is continually focused on the use of nutraceuticals and optimal nutrition in rear and release to maximise gut health and this year, we have a project to trial some different feed regimes to try to reduce the incidence of protozoan disease in poults. We have employed a newly qualified agriculture student from Cirencester to help us collect data so that we can analyse bird health, weight, feed intake and efficiency as well as to monitor bird behaviour in the pens. At St David’s Game Bird Services, we continue to assist with advice to improve husbandry and management whilst also recognising the importance of good nutrition.

There has been a lot of positivity this season as the selling of shooting has been strong and the game keepers and game farmers are very focused on the health and welfare of the stock to rear a sporting bird with the minimum of problems, and this all facilitates our long term goal to reduce antibiotic usage in the sector.

It seems then both logical and timely that the follow on to this is the creation of the British Game Alliance (BGA) which sets out to market the end product and to create a quality brand. The requirement then to market game meat to the retailer, customer and the shooting sector in general is a vital component for the sustainability of shooting in its current form. There are some very exciting opportunities for the BGA to market game meat and to achieve this we have to create a standard that we adhere to.

I am very passionate about this venture, I believe the end product is both a healthy eating option and a marvelous product that we should be proud to produce in a market place where more and more people are questioning what they eat and where it comes from. It is interesting to hear that recent surveys show the Millennials are spending more money on food as a percentage of their income than the older generation, but want to know more about the source of the food, and if it is meat, its history and welfare.

The creation of a standard allows us to self-regulate our sport before regulation is set upon us with rules that have little relevance to what we do by people who have no knowledge of the wildlife and countryside.

I would urge everybody involved in shooting to get behind the cause for a number of reasons; namely that it professionalises what we do, creates an end market for feathered game and makes the sport more sustainable.

I am aware there is a lot of activity, energy and opportunity to make this not-for-profit venture work but it does require funds to become self-propelling, so please help.

We are pleased to announce that Alan has been invited onto the Board of Directors of the British Game Alliance.

The BGA is a not-for-profit initiative aiming to enhance and improve the market for game and to secure a sustainable future for the game industry. Alan joins Chairman, Ivor Shenkman and Board Members Charlie McVeigh and Simon Chantler and they will be supported by an advisory committee.  As a practice, we are proud supporters of the BGA, read a bit more about it below. 

Mission Statement:“The British Game Alliance is the National Marketing Board for feathered game. As a not-for-profit organisation, its objective is to bring back significant commercial value to the game meat produced by the shoots it represents. The BGA is bringing effective self-regulation to the shooting community for the first time, working to raise and maintain standards to secure the game meat market and the future of game shooting.”

As well as championing game’s versatility, superior health benefits and delicious taste to the British public, the BGA is working tirelessly to open up new markets at home and abroad with a dedicated sales team on behalf of the shooting

The BGA will be running its “British Game” Assurance Scheme, giving both retailers and consumers confidence in the provenance of game. This is a necessary step in the shooting industry, ensuring self-regulation obviates the need for Government intervention is not necessary.

Participating shoot adhere to a set of Shoot Standards which are managed by Acoura who operate the highly regarded Red Tractor Farm Assurance and Scottish Quality Venison. They know and understand the game sector and look forward to helping shoots raise and maintain standards.

The BGA is for ALL shoots of ALL sizes, with a tiered annual membership fee as seen here. Participating shoots will offer a VOLUNTARY 50p per bird levy to their guns to help the fighting fund. This can be added to their invoice or collected on the day in a donation bucket, which the BGA will supply.

Along with many other agencies, partners and shoot operators, we are urging all shoots to support this very necessary and timely initiative, which will ensure the sport that lives on.

For more information, visit the BGA website