Winter 2018 has brought many anxious moments and this continues into 2019 with the unsettled “Brexit” vote still to be made. This is sending the world of vets and suppliers into a frenzy of mass stock holding. We, and many of our suppliers, have put aside certain levels of medications should there be a shortfall in supply. The suppliers themselves are also doing the same in order to help buffer any delays.
There is also a concern that the drugs currently only licensed for EU member states could become invalid for use in the U.K. However, the Government has yet to make a decision on this and we hope that common sense prevails and there will be no disruptive changes to the veterinary medicines we use. We will of course update everyone in our industry as soon as we know!
There has also been increasing anxiousness towards the highest prevalence of “bulgy eye” or Mycoplasma with this rearing, and now shooting, seasons having seen some of the highest amount of “mycoplasma breakdowns”. Indeed, we have seen similar problems in other poultry industries over the years and thankfully these industry problems can be overcome with cooperation, testing, strategic culling and vaccination.
There have been for many years several “hot spots” for mycoplasma around the U.K. and these continue year on year for many different factors. However, this year in areas that were always symptomatically clear have started to show signs of the dreaded bulgy eye.
This disease has great potential to vastly reduce the flying capabilities of birds for life, and in some cases has forced the closure of shoots. However, it is not all doom and gloom, the disease can be prevented from causing such detrimental effects.
It is clear that we are still learning a great deal about this disease and how it reacts in game species. We are heavily involved in research projects, whether that is through studies or small groups of shoots working together to eradicate the problem.
Catching up birds for breeding purposes has been the way many have been able to replenish stock year on year. However, it has become a lottery gamble as to whether these birds have been exposed and contracted the disease. They may have flown well but they may also carry the disease which is waiting to strike. The stress of moving can often cause symptoms to become visually obvious.
St David’s is encouraging all of our clients to create a mycoplasma reduction/prevention plan for their sites. I would heavily advise this for every shoot and game farmer in the U.K. Working collectively we can reduce this disease but it must involve transparency, total honesty and involvement of vets, keepers, feed companies, land owners and shooting agents.
Every year we hold a series of events around the U.K. with talks for game keepers, dealers and rearers. A key focus of these meetings will be the mycoplasma reduction/prevention plans, as well as dead game with the BGA and conservation and cluster groups with the GWCT. Keep an eye on our website for further information.