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VHPs - Everything you need to know about Veterinary Health Plans and why you need one.

At St David’s preventative healthcare is our biggest priority and we work closely with our clients to ensure that they have effective health plans and protocols in place to limit the risk of disease, poor performance and the financial losses that poor health can bring.

You may have heard our vets talk about VHPs (Veterinary Health Plans) in our articles, on the phone or during your site visit, and here we aim to tackle these key points:

  • What is a Veterinary Health Plan?
  • Why do I need a Veterinary Health Plan?

What is a Veterinary Health Plan?

Veterinary Health Plans (VHPs) are the name given to the bespoke preventative health plan and management protocol that you have in place for your game farm. These plans are worked on with your St David’s vet on an annual basis, and include a detailed review of your set-up, management and husbandry protocols and any disease occurrences within your birds in the last season.

During your VHP our vet team will work closely with you to review the successes of the past year, as well as identify any room for improvement. As we visit so many sites year on year, our team are equipped with the knowledge and experience needed to understand how different set-ups work, as well as the environmental considerations, equipment types and disease challenges that often occur. This means that we can provide tailored advice, getting you off to the best start for the season ahead and proactively work with you and your team to prevent any issues from developing with your birds.

The VHP is undertaken on a site visit and will involve your vet doing a full site walk to review your feeders and drinkers, lighting and temperature controls and shed condition. We will also review the bird management and husbandry, including equipment positioning and quantity, as well as cleaning protocols and the products used on site giving us an opportunity to provide advice on best practice use and application of products to ensure their efficacy and suitability for the job in hand.

Our aim is to help you to improve your business and our team always work with future-proofing in mind to support the success of the game industry as a whole and to ensure the best health and welfare standards for the birds in our care. With that in mind, during your VHP visit our vet team will also discuss with you: industry challenges and innovations in equipment, technology and management protocols, system efficiencies – both financial and labour, drug usage and staff training.

Following your site visit, we will provide you with a detailed report of our findings and recommendations for the season, focusing on the preventative measures that can be put into place to improve your bird health and reduce disease. Our advice will cover many elements of game bird health including vaccination programmes, disease prevention – with particular attention paid to mycoplasma prevention plans, equipment suggestions and cleaning protocols, as well as advising on supplementary products that can be given to the birds in order to support their gut health and general wellbeing.

Your full VHP will be sent to you via post, and will be valid for one year, at which point we recommend another visit to ensure that the VHP is up to date, reflective of the most recent season and valid for any external audits that you may have.

Why do I need a Veterinary Health Plan?

A VHP is important for many reasons and is something that we strongly advise clients to complete on an annual basis to protect the health of their birds and their business. Having a VHP can have many benefits for your farm. Firstly, by enlisting your vet to carry out a VHP you are taking good proactive measures to identify any issues on site to improve the health and welfare of your birds. Secondly, in working with your vet and formalising the health planning and protocols in the form of a VHP, you can keep a thorough written record of the health and welfare measures you are putting in place on site – which is of increasing value and importance as the game industry seeks to improve its self-regulation.

Veterinary Health Plans are designed to aid the farmer in reviewing the season and site, to identify any issues and to prevent them from reoccurring in the seasons that follow. At St David’s we are working hard with our clients on improving the health and welfare of the birds in our care, as well as the efficiency of the businesses that we work with to protect them and secure the future of the industry for years to come.

To find out more about VHPs or to book your VHP site visit, call 01392 872932 or email