Q: Is poor chick quality early on affecting rearing?
A: Yes, whilst it must be said there are some high quality batches, what we are generally seeing as a Practice this year is reasonably poor. If some birds are underweight, they will perhaps need certain dietary requirements to get them to full strength, speak to your vet about this.
Q: Is this season’s wet and warm climate affecting the birds?
A: Yes, we as a Practice are seeing higher than normal levels of gape worm, especially in places where worms are not usually an issue. Gape worms are found in the windpipe of the bird where they cause irritation. In severe infestations they can block the windpipe and choke the bird to death. Birds are seen snicking and head shaking. Stringent worming and hygiene measures in release pens are advised.
Q: What precautions can be taken to try and avoid this?
A: Advice is to worm heavily in the feed and to look at getting a strategy with your vet to put a good preventive program in place. We find a robust worming program benefits the shoots well and reduces problems dramatically. Similarly, small changes in the set out of the release pen are vital, and the correct numbers of feeders and drinkers placed in the right way in the pen can make the difference between success and failure. Moving feeders regularly and taking out mouldy feed as well as examining drinker hygiene is most important.
Q: Are gape worms something to worry about?
A: They shouldn’t be no, but that does not mean you can simply ignore them and the threat they pose. The life cycle of the worm is around 18 to 21 days so with regular worming and hygiene control within this time period and beyond, there is no reason why birds should become infected.
Q: Will ‘Brexit’ impact the shooting season?
A: It’s too early to tell! No one really knows – the United Kingdom is unlikely to abandon all European Union legislation, but shooters may be protected from further restrictions. Only time will tell…