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Veterinary care and beyond

Dr Kenny Nutting BVetMed MRCVS

Veterinary care combined with supportive services, guidance and advice will help you to get the most out of your farm or shoot.

Since my article last month, the brooding season is well and truly underway with my diary becoming much busier with site visits to those who are continuing with the season. Whilst there are estimates that the industry will run at approximately 25% less than it has in previous years’ due to the impact of COVID-19, there is a clear theme of efficiencies amongst both those who are working the season and those who are postponing until next year.

As a vets practice, predominantly our conversations focus on the health and welfare of the birds in our care, however with years’ of combined knowledge and experience in the industry, our vets and field services teams are often able to provide valuable advice and guidance on much broader topics too. With 15 practices across the UK and Ireland, we are working with a large number of estates, which also means we are able to give clear advice on what works, and what doesn’t on a regional level, as well as having our ear to the ground on the latest industry updates and news.

The additional game bird services that we provide are often forgotten, or much more so seen as a part of a wider veterinary health plan. However our field services team are available to our clients to carry out a number of supportive services alongside, or in addition to, our veterinary specific services such as; brooding reviews, diagnostic sampling, biosecurity and hygiene consultancy, vaccination auditing and training, water auditing, testing and advice, as well as product advice and application. It is with experience that we know that it is the consideration and upkeep of all of these factors that give our clients the best results.

In my previous article I spoke about the importance of having the correct water drinkers, and how having an incorrect system, or a system that is not best suited to your farm, can have a negative impact on the health of your birds. Similarly, whilst brooding set-ups vary from one rearer to another, carefully planning your set-up to ensure efficiencies and improve biosecurity can make a great difference to chick survivability.

Recently we have brought some new clients under our care, and in doing this it has highlighted to me that more often than not, when a rearer is starting out, they are looking to the internet and fellow gamekeeper recommendations for guidance on how to get off to the best start. Both myself, our vets and our field services team have seen many different set-ups and it is only in understanding the subtleties between different farms, as well as the pros and cons of certain equipment and procedures, that we can identify where efficiencies can be made, as well as vast improvements to the birds overall health and welfare. We would always recommend speaking to someone who is qualified to advise on different products and equipment, as sadly we often see large amounts of money being spent on set-ups that are not necessarily in line with the best approach or legislative guidelines. Sometimes it is the smallest of changes that can have a big improvement, and the same can be said for when things go the other way too! 

As an industry we have seen vast improvements over the years, and great strides are being made to ensure the industry is accountable through the introduction of official audit processes such as that of the British Game Alliance. We are also seeing an increase in smaller family run shoots, or farm shoots who are also taking a greater interest in learning new ways to better improve the health and welfare of their birds, including disease prevention and monitoring, which is having a positive impact on game bird rearing and shooting as a whole.

Whether you are continuing with the season this year, or taking this time to review your current set-ups, St David’s Game Bird Services are here and able to help and advise on a number of different aspects, and would welcome any conversations around your set-ups and how these could be tweaked and improved to ensure that when normality does resume, you are in the best shape to have the most successful season you can.

To find out more about St David’s Game Bird Services and the work that we do email



As featured on Guns On Pegs