Antibiotics update

Antibiotic (AB) usage figures for the 2018 rearing and releasing season will be verified by the Veterinary Medicines Directorate during October. Following an excellent 36% reduction nationally last year, the gamebird sector is waiting anxiously for news of a further fall. A worldwide campaign is underway to cut disease resistance by reducing unnecessary AB use and the Government has made clear it expects all UK livestock sectors, including gamebird managers, to deliver dramatic falls.

The Game Farmers’ Association (GFA) has been leading an industry-wide campaign, which intensified in advance of this year’s rearing programme.The GWCT joined forces with the GFA and numerous other bodies in a widely distributed Joint Communication about the need for further progress. It said: “For the sake of human and animal health, for the good of our own gamebirds and – not least – for the reputation of game shooting, we must achieve further reductions.” And it provided guidance on how to do so.

Usage figures for 2018 are being collated as in 2016 and 2017 by gamebird vets and game feed companies and will be verified by officials. In November, a Government report will compare AB use across all livestock sectors. Use in gamebirds has in the past been relatively high, so everyone is hoping for a further significant fall.

As Gamewise went to press, a ring-round of game farmers, gamekeepers, vets and feed companies indicated that the prolonged dry spell in June and July had reduced disease burdens and AB treatments, although severe heat-wave conditions did lead to some stress-related hexamatiasis. Thunderstorms coinciding with poult deliveries did not help either, but overall fingers are crossed for satisfactory annual totals.

Charles Nodder, who advises both the GFA and the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation commented: “The Government is expecting the gamebird sector to reduce AB use by a further 25% before the end of 2020, so this year’s results need to be good.”

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