All animals are subject to disease and parasite infections and, in some circumstances, this can lead to widespread mortality. In red grouse populations, the parasite, Trichostrongylus tenuis appears to be responsible for cyclical changes in numbers and part of our upland research programme is directed to controlling this disease. The same is true for the viral tick-borne disease, louping Ill, which can suppress red grouse stocks in some localities.
Gamekeepers, who hand-rear pheasants and partridges for shooting, have a special responsibility for the care of their birds. While in their care, they have a duty to combat disease through good husbandry and, where needed, appropriate medication. Our studies aim to encourage good husbandry and disease prevention by those that rear game. We also aim to understand the biology of common infections so that outbreaks can be tackled by the keeper quickly and effectively.