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What can I do with my excess poults this year?

Sam Morgan BSc MVDr MRCVS

As the end to what has been a rather difficult rearing season draws to a close, thoughts have started to turn to preparing for the next, with many clients wondering what to do with any excess poults that they may have.

Deciding what to do with excess pheasant and partridge poults can be tricky, as there are a few options with pros and cons to each of them, and so both our vets and field services team are often asked for their advice and recommended approach following the success of the season just passed.

Below we outline the options available, and the considerations that need to be taken into account.

Sell your poults: You have the option to sell your excess poults, either to another game farmer or shoot as a last resort to a game dealer. However, if you do sell your excess, then you may need to buy birds back in at a later date for laying purposes, which could prove to be more expensive, or risk the introduction of disease to your farm.

Release them: With the current climate still being fairly unpredictable, and with the demand for shoot days being dictated by the ever changing COVID-19 regulations, there is the option of releasing your birds to support any additional shoot days that go ahead as the season progresses. From speaking with others in the industry, it is clear that whilst at present the demand for days is increasing, we are still seeing people holding out to see how travel restrictions may change and impact their plans. Therefore, if you choose to release your excess poults it will put you in a good position to support extra days that do happen, and provide you with the flexibility you may need during these ever-changing times. Furthermore, if you have had any disease issues on your farm, releasing the birds now could prove helpful in reducing the impact of disease in future flocks as you have the opportunity to do a full clear out of your stock.

Keep your poults for breeding: If you have the facilities to keep your birds on this could be more beneficial in the long run and will allow you to be more self-sustainable for the next season. There is an upfront cost in keeping these birds which may need some careful consideration, but the upside to this is that you will run a better chance of reducing disease in the next season. This is because keeping your bird’s onsite will ensure you have full traceability and knowledge of the birds’ history, which will help to mitigate the risk of the introduction of diseases from outside sources such as mycoplasma. However, this period is also the highest risk for the development of Mycoplasma from other wild birds, and so mitigating the risk of disease introduction during this time is crucial. It is possible to vaccinate against Mycoplasma, although this is not 100% effective against the disease, and vaccination programmes should be carefully considered with your vet.

Overall when considering your options, it is important to remember that preventing the introduction of disease, and producing birds that are of good health is of the upmost importance. With the buying in of any birds there is a risk of introducing disease, and so it is a critical time for you to engage with your vet to ensure that the correct testing is carried out at the hatchery to protect the biosecurity of your site before the introduction of any new poults.

Both our vets and field services team are able to provide comprehensive advice and guidance for your farm, as we understand the differences that make each set up unique, as well as bespoke health care plans and management protocols.

If you are unsure as to what to do with your excess poults, and would like to speak to your vet or field services personnel, you can get in touch with the office via or by calling 01392 872932 to arrange a site visit or telephone consult.

Originally written for Guns On Pegs.