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Latest news and events...

RSPB calls for a moratorium on gamebird releasing (12th August 2022)

In the latest of its’ cynical attempts to disrupt shooting the RSPB has this week, publicly called for a moratorium on gamebird releasing to reduce the risk of spreading Avian Influenza. Not only do they admit there is no scientific evidence to support their position, the RSPB has also conveniently overlooked all of the facts that don’t fit with it’s narrative.

Defra and the game management sector recognise the significant threat posed by highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) to the UK’s precious wild bird populations. There is already a ban on releasing gamebirds in all control zones, and businesses that wish to release them outside of zones are required to maintain stringent biosecurity standards and report any signs of avian influenza to minimise the spread of disease. This is standard good practice on game shoots. 

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Dr Roger Draycott, Director of Advisory and Gamebird Policy at GWCT commented: “The RSPB’s position is not based on scientific evidence and if enacted would unquestionably lead to a reduction in activities including habitat provision and management, supplementary feeding and targeted predation management, all of which have been scientifically proven to deliver significant biodiversity benefits to the British countryside. These would be lost if there was a moratorium on gamebird releasing and management as proposed by RSPB.”

George Davis, Chairman of the GFA said “At times like these we need to see organisations coming together to sustain our wildlife and so much more in our countryside. RSPBs recent prejudiced remarks from the side-lines are designed to score political points whilst it's the farmers and gamekeepers that toil in these challenging times and extreme weather, looking after cover crops, hedging plants and maintaining watering stations to name just a few of the jobs that sustain our bird life.

Their recent statement seems to be more geared to appeasing their supporters, and political grandstanding without considering the consequences of loss of habitat or the thousands of man hours that are invested in managing our countryside and conservation projects. Judging by their actions, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that the RSPB is more interested in disrupting shooting than protecting birds or encouraging conservation, habitat management and biodiversity gain.

Please don't forget your grassroots RSPB, Sir Peter Scott was a shooting man himself, and like him many of us are passionate about wildlife conservation. Our national bird life is supported by those that live and work in the countryside, compromising our livelihood will adversely affect huge swathes of the countryside and would lead directly to the loss of hundreds of millions spent annually on habitat management and biodiversity - how damaging would that be?”

Baroness visits Chairman's game farm (26th July 2022)

In addition to engaging with Baroness Jones, the GFA also approached Baroness Bakewell following her participation in the Lord's debate about Lord Randall's bill. Baroness Bakewell is a Liberal Democrate Peer with a rural background and is broadly supportive of fieldsports.

Diary pressures prevented her from accepting her invitation to visit a site with Raised Laying Units before the end of the breeding season, but during an introductory Zoom meeting she expressed an interest in learning more about the whole rearing process. On 26 July we welcomed her to The Game Farm at Great Missenden, which is owned and operated by GFA Chairman George Davis.

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Baroness Bakewell said she found the visit both interesting and informative and she plans to follow this with a spring visit to another site to look at Raised Laying Units and has expressed an interest in attending a shoot day this season to find out more about shooting.

GFA presence at Royal Welsh Show (19th July 2022)

As a result of our partnership working with other organisations, principally through Aim to Sustain, Dominic Boulton attended the Royal Welsh Show where he represented the GFA at a cross party shooting and conservation group meeting of members of the Welsh Senedd.

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Pictured from left to right are: Ann and Gwyn Evans Bettws Hall, Matthew Goodall GWCT, Dominic Boulton GFA, Sam Rowlands MS North Wales (Conservative Shadow Minister for Local Government), LLyr Gruffydd MS North Wales (Plaid Cymru), Joel James MS South Wales Central (Conservative and member of BASC), Natasha Asghar MS South East Wales (Conservative), Samuel Kurtz MS Camarthen West and South Pembrokeshire (Conservative), David Boden BASC, Peter Fox MS Monmouth (Conservative) and Russell George MS Montgomeryshire (Conservative).

Later the same day, Dominic also represented the GFA at the Welsh Aim to Sustain Committee to discuss their recent call for evidence on game bird releasing.

GFA visit House of Lords (14th July 2022)

George Davis and Baroness JonesIn the aftermath of the reading of Lord Randall's Bill on Raised Laying Units in the House of Lords earlier this year, the GFA reached out to several key participants in the debate to engage with them directly and offer them the opportunity to visit a game farm.

One of these was Baroness Jones (Labour Shadow Secretary for the Environment), who was unable to fit a site visit into her schedule prior to the end of the laying season, but instead invited us to meet with her at the House of Lords in Westminster.

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In mid July, George Davis (Chairman) and Dominic Boulton (PR and Political Advisor), made the trip to London and had a very productive meeting with Baroness Jones. Although no fan of shooting, Baroness Jones approached the meeting with an open mind and was appreciative of the bigger picture that surrounds the shooting debate and by the end of the meeting, accepted that the wider benefits of shooting countered many of the arguments levied against the sport. She agreed that whilst she could not condone shooting game, she had no desire to prevent others from doing so. Baroness Jones has also accepted our invitation to visit a game farm next spring to further discuss the matter of Raised Laying Units.

GFA receives letter from Lord Benyon (12th July 2022)

The GFA recently received a letter from Lord Benyon (click on link below to read in full), recognising the contribution that we make on behalf of the shooting sector and the part we have played in trying to resolve the issues that Avian Influenza has created, particularly in respect of French imports.

Through the participation of Dominic Boulton at DEFRA’s National Avian Disease Core Group the GFA has done all in its power to find a solution to these problems and keep its members updated on the situation as it developed. Although a solution could not be implemented in time to save the 2022 season, as you can see from Lord Benyons’ letter, a mechanism does now exist that could potentially help, should we be faced with similar problems in future.

The GFA would like to thank Lord Benyon and all his colleagues at DEFRA and APHA for the support they have given the shooting sector throughout these troubling times, and we have replied to his letter.

Lord Benyon's letter to GFA.

GFA launches 2022 Joint Communication on Antibiotics (29th April 2022)

As we continue through the second phase of optimising antibiotic use in Livestock sectors, RUMA’s Targets Taskforce 2 (TTF2), the game sector, along with some others, needs to maintain focus on further reductions. If we are to meet the target that we set ourselves for the TTF2 period, which ends in 2024, we will need to make significant further reductions over the next three years.

We are delighted to share with you some summary figures from the 2021 collection, together with some reinforcement of the rules and regulations, as well as some exciting new initiatives to help take our sector forward. For more information, please click on the link below.

Gamebird Joint Communication 2022

As we look to make further sustainable reductions in the prescription of antibiotics, there needs to be greater focus on improving systems, raising welfare standards and research so, that we create a sector that is  less prone to disease challenges and is consequently less dependent on medication.

Bird Flu Threatens Egg and Chick Imports (14th March 2022)

Recent Avian Influenza (AI) outbreaks in France are now threatening the export of French eggs and chicks.

There are now a significant number of Infected Premises (IP’s) (where AI has been confirmed in captive birds) in the region of France where most gamebird breeding sites are located, namely the Vendee and Loire Atlantique regions. These two regions contain a significant proportion of the gamebird production sites that export eggs and chicks to the UK.

The result of this is that no eggs, chicks etc can leave these disease control zones without a licence. The GFA has been heavily involved in trying to find some resolution to these problems, but the situation is constantly changing and despite our best efforts there is currently no permanent solution in sight.

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The GFA is currently engaged with officials at the highest level in DEFRA and APHA through our representation on the Governments Nation Avian Disease Core Group, and has been involved with briefing the Secretary of State for Agriculture, George Eustice, as well as liaising with our colleagues in France to help facilitate more communication between officials here and across the Channel.

Further updates will follow as soon as there are any developments. In the meantime the GFA recommends all producers liaise closely with their suppliers to understand how this situation may affect them.

Scottish Government Statement on Catching-Up Gamebirds (19th January 2022)

On January 14th 2022 the Scottish Government issued the following statement in relation to catching-up in Scotland. Although Scotland has only had 5 confirmed cases of AI in captive birds, there have been extensive findings in wild birds across Scotland with over 80 cases confirmed in 14 different species across Scotland, in over 40 locations from Aberdeenshire to Skye to the Borders.

Please note that the 28th February deadline for catching-up referred to in the statement is only applicable in Scotland, and that anywhere else in the UK catching-up is only legal until the end of the shooting season.  

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As you will be aware, due to an increased risk of incursion of avian influenza (bird flu) for wild birds, gamebirds, poultry and other captive birds within the UK, an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) was declared by Scottish Ministers, covering the whole of Scotland, on 03 November 2021. Similar legislation was enacted across all UK administrations.

Subsequently, measures that made it a legal requirement for all poultry and captive birds (with the exception of game birds kept for restocking)  to be housed or otherwise kept separate from wild birds, and for all bird keepers to follow strict biosecurity measures in order to contain and eradicate the disease, were implemented on 29 November 2021.

Following feedback from stakeholders and government colleagues, and in light of recent outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza within the UK, we recognised a need to issue the following important outbreak-specific advice to all involved with gamebirds in Scotland.


Biosecurity means simple procedures or steps you can take to prevent disease. The risk of bird flu in the UK from wild birds never disappears completely and so good biosecurity should be incorporated into daily practice, but during an outbreak period it is vital to protect your birds.  An outbreak of bird flu at any size game or poultry establishment can have a profound impact on the commercial game and poultry sector through both the introduction of movement restrictions and temporary loss of exports with other countries.

This biosecurity guidance includes details of measures that should be taken in the current Avian Influenza Prevention Zone and provides specific advice for game bird keepers. Complete the biosecurity self-assessment checklist to ensure you are complying with the mandatory biosecurity requirements.

Legal Requirement

The legal requirement to house all poultry or captive birds in the UK includes caught-up gamebirds. The aim of this requirement is to segregate poultry and captive birds, such as caught up gamebirds, from wild birds as much as is possible to reduce the risk of infection. The exception to this requirement are game birds kept for restocking supplies. Although it is important to note that these birds must be supplied with feed and water either indoors or under a shelter which prevents contact by wild birds with the feed and water supplied.

Bird Gatherings

A further biosecurity measure integral to the legal restrictions applied, and key to reducing the risk of onward spread, is the amendment of the General Licence permitting bird gatherings (to prohibit gatherings involving kept galliformes (chickens, turkeys, pheasants, partridges, quails and other land fowl) and kept anseriformes, (ducks, geese, swans and other water fowl). It is important to stress that these bird gathering events include the catching-up of wild game birds. There are, however, exceptions to this and the following are not considered to be gatherings and do not, therefore, need to be licensed:

  • catching-up of wild game birds (where they have come from multiple locations but are then moved to a single location afterwards, and remain there for breeding or other purposes)
  • birds which are brought together from different locations, but where no birds move off the premises within 13 days of the last bird arriving on the premises;

It should be noted, however, that there is some risk that birds gathered from the wild could be infected with avian influenza, and by gathering them up and bringing them back to a farm/shoot/estate, this could infect the birds that are already there. Caught up pheasants are defined as poultry. Therefore, if disease is confirmed, this would result in a new infected premises. It is on this basis that all catching up activities are not recommended whilst the AIPZ measures are still in effect.

This recommendation holds even greater weight for premises that fall within geographical areas deemed at particular high risk to avian influenza (HRAs). Check if your premises falls within one of these areas by using our interactive map (please note the ‘layers’ functionality button top right on this interactive screen to add HRAs to the map).

Register Your Birds

There is a legal requirement for all poultry keepers with 50 or more birds to register their premises on the Great Britain Poultry Register – this includes game keepers. The voluntary registration of premises with fewer than 50 birds is highly encouraged - particularly if you are in, or close to, a higher risk area.

General Advice

It should be noted that this is general advice for those whose activities do not fall within Protection and Surveillance Zones associated with an outbreak premises, within which specific legal regulations apply.

It is also worth noting that catching up gamebirds is only legal until 28th February in Scotland.

Avian influenza is a notifiable disease by law. If you find a single dead wild waterfowl (swans, geese or ducks), a single dead bird of prey, or five or more dead wild birds of any other species (including gulls) at the same place at the same time, you should report them to Defra’s GB-wide telephone helpline: 03459 33 55 77 (please select option 7). It is advisable that you do not touch these birds.

Know the signs of bird flu in kept birds, which include loss of appetite, swollen heads, respiratory problems and multiple unexpected deaths. If you suspect any type of avian influenza in poultry or captive birds you must report it immediately by contacting your local APHA office. Failure to do so is an offence.

Bird flu and its consequences can certainly impact game management and shooting, but it is also true that game managers and shooters are in a good position to detect and report outbreaks. Please be vigilant and report any concerns.

Scottish Government have joined with organisations involved in gamebird management to issue revised guidance on bird flu and the way it can affect the activities of gamebird rearers.

Queries specific to gamebirds and avian influenza can also be addressed to:

The Game Farmers Association

PO Box 3629


RG40 9LG

Tel: 01189 797255


Scottish Government guidance on avian influenza can be found at:

Aim to Sustain hails third Wild Justice defeat as “vindication for uplands managers” (18th January 2022)

AIM TO SUSTAIN partner organisations have said another legal defeat for Wild Justice is vindication of those who manage Britain’s uplands.

Wild Justice again attempted to launch an appeal after the High Court last month refused their application for a judicial review of the Heather Burning Regulations for a second time.

But the Rt Hon Lord Justice Males in the Court of Appeal today dismissed this latest legal challenge by the group run by Chris Packham, saying such an appeal “would have no real prospect of success”.

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A spokesperson for Aim to Sustain partner organisations said: “This result is further vindication of the legitimate, ethical and sustainable land management that underpins these iconic areas of the British uplands.

“Packham and Wild Justice have now suffered this embarrassing, third defeat on this issue. Four Aim to Sustain organisations fought all the way on this issue and they will continue to fight any further actions by Wild Justice that threaten sustainable management of our countryside which provides important environmental, societal and conservation benefits.”

Four organisations within Aim to Sustain worked shoulder to shoulder with Defra to defend the challenges brought by Wild Justice -  the Moorland Association (MA), British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC), Countryside Alliance (CA), and National Gamekeepers’ Organisation (NGO).

“We firmly believe that prescribed burning is an essential tool for those managing our uplands and we want to ensure these land managers continue to have access to the right tools at the right time,” the spokesperson added.

The organisations have now also officially received £1,100 legal costs awarded to them by the court when the original Wild Justice challenge was refused last year. The money has been donated to the Gamekeepers’ Welfare Trust.

New General Licences - “A Step in the Right Direction” (14th January 2022)

After a meeting in early December with Aim to Sustain partner organisations (including the GFA) Defra has now issued the 2022 versions of GL40, GL41 & GL42 – the General Licences that allow the lethal control of pest birds.

Several aspects of the draft licences were changed significantly as a result of this meeting and the subsequent follow up. Although far from perfect, the new licences (which are valid for 2 years instead of the usual 1) are a significant improvement to the versions we were initially asked to comment on.

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Most notably, the English general licences now cover European Protected Sites (such as Special Protection Areas and Special Areas of Conservation) albeit with some additional conditions relating to some of these sites. This will make controlling ‘pest birds’ over these sites easier and quicker as there will no longer be a need to apply for an individual licence.

However, members should be aware of changes to GL40, ‘the conservation licence’, which as of 2021 includes a controversial and unsupportable change that control under this licence can now only be carried out to conserve bird species which are endangered i.e. red or amber listed. Although not directly relevant to the rearing field, this could have wider implications for Game Farmers who rely on GL40 for conservation purposes away from the rearing field.

Any activity not covered by a general licence will require an individual licence from Natural England. Last year there were significant issues and delays with processing individual licence applications. NE has launched a pre-screening service for anyone considering applying for such a licence to improve the process. The service should take less than ten minutes to complete, and NE will provide a quick response advising of the likelihood of a licence being issued and what evidence would be required to be successful. This is a welcome attempt to improve the service offered by NE and with our partner organisations in Aim to Sustain we will be monitoring the success of the new service.

Crucially for Game Farmers and Game Keepers, point 7 of the legal definitions of GL42 on the last page of the licence, makes it clear that the term “livestock” includes game birds in the context of game farming.

Below are links to the current General Licences that are valid until 31 December 2023:

Valid from 1 January 2022 – GL40: general licence to kill or take certain species of wild birds to conserve wild birds, flora or fauna of conservation concern
Valid from 1 January 2022 – GL41: General Licence to kill or take certain species of wild birds to preserve public health or public safety 
Valid from 1 January 2022 – GL42: General Licence to kill or take certain species of wild birds to prevent serious damage

Valid until 31 December 2022:

Valid from 1 January 2022 – GL33: trapping wild birds: standard licence conditions

Bird Flu Outbreak Continues to Worsen (10th January 2022)

With the number of confirmed cases in captive birds having reached 78, the current outbreak now involves three times as many cases as last winter (26 cases), which itself was the worst outbreak at that time.

The increased number of Disease Control Zones will inevitably make catching up operations and the movement of laying birds more complicated as birds cannot be moved in or out of such zones without a licence from APHA, which is unlikely to be granted for such a purpose.

The location of Disease Control Zones can be checked at Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) interactive map, and in Northern Ireland on DAERA’s interactive map. The map is constantly updated as new zones are declared and old ones lifted.

In addition to Disease Control Zones an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) including housing measures and restrictions on bird gatherings is in force across the UK. See GOV.UK for further information.

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Last week the first case of Bird Flu was confirmed in a human, although this was as a result of prolonged close contact with infected birds and was not related to shooting or the handling of shot game. It does however highlight the need for vigilance among bird keepers.

Professor Isabel Oliver, Chief Scientific Officer at the UK Health Security Agency, said: “While the risk of avian flu to the general public is very low, we know that some strains do have the potential to spread to humans and that’s why we have robust systems in place to detect these early and take action. Currently there is no evidence that this strain detected in the UK can spread from person to person, but we know that viruses evolve all the time, and we continue to monitor the situation closely. We have followed up all of this individual’s contacts and have not identified any onward spread. It remains critical that people do not touch sick or dead birds, and that they contact DEFRA.”

UK’s Chief Veterinary Officer Christine Middlemiss said: “While avian influenza is highly contagious in birds, this is a very rare event and is very specific to the circumstances on this premises. We took swift action to limit the spread of the disease at the site in question, all infected birds have been humanely culled, and cleansing and disinfection of the premises is underway. This is a reminder that stringent cleanliness when keeping animals is important. We are seeing a growing number of cases in birds on both commercial farms and in backyard flocks across the country. Implementing scrupulous biosecurity measures will help keep your birds safe.”

As the start of the laying season looms nearer, biosecurity arrangements and quarantine / isolation protocols, where relevant, have never been more important. For further advice click on biosecurity.   

Catching up gamebirds in England and Wales is legal until the end of the shooting season and until 28th February in Scotland.

Aim To Sustain gathers momentum (6th December 2021)

After receiving strong support from the shooting community, through a ten-week consultation, the Aim to Sustain partnership has pushed on at pace.

The first phase of work has been to coordinate and take strategic legal direction on an issue which has caused disruption across the countryside - UK Habitat Risk Assessments (HRA) here.

Recent tactical co-ordination has included responding positively to the RSPBs 2021 report on the illegal killing of birds of prey here and Wild Justice’s failure to secure a judicial review on “burning” in England, for a second time here.

This week the Chairman and Chief Executives of the partners will be meeting in person. They are collectively committed to ensuring the partnership’s priorities are delivered as swiftly as possible – the highest standards of self-regulation, the most persuasive and credible research, and the most effective political and public engagement for game shooting.

Bird Flu latest - 25 November 2021 (25th November 2021)

DEFRA announces UK-wide housing measures to protect poultry and captive birds against avian flu. Click here for an update on the latest situation.

Bird flu and Gamebirds: Revised Guidance Issued (12th November 2021)

Government has joined with organisations involved in gamebird management to issue revised guidance on bird flu and the way it can affect the activities of gamebird rearers.

Published today by eight game shooting, research and game conservation bodies, the new guidance is endorsed by Defra, the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland governments. Click here to access it.

Avian Influenza Strikes, National Protection Zone Announced. (5th November 2021)

As of 5pm on 3/11/2021 the Government introduced a National Avian Influenza Protection Zone (AIPZ) which covers England, Scotland and Wales, in response to confirmed cases of High Path H5N1 in Worcestershire (England), Wrexham (Wales) and Angus (Scotland). 

Members are requested to be vigilant and report any dead captive or wild birds to the DEFRA Rural Services Helpline on 0300 020 0301. In Wales contact 0300 303 8268, failure to do so is an offence.

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The AIPZ means all bird keepers in Great Britain (whether they have pet birds, commercial flocks or just a few birds in a backyard flock) are required by law to take a range of biosecurity precautions. These will apply to anyone with overwintered game birds on their premises.

Separate AIPZ declarations have been made in each Great Britain administration. Details of the measures that apply and further information on Avian influenza can be found by clicking here.

GFA raises its’ profile at Ragley Hall Game Fair (30th July 2021)

In addition to being part of the launch of Aim to Sustain at the Game Fair on Friday 23 July, the following day, Dominic Boulton (right) joined Roger Draycott (centre) from the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust to talk to Charlie Jacoby (left) in the Game Fair Theatre about the new GFA veterinary pen scoring matrix.

In the context of the ongoing campaign to reduce antibiotic use and to continue to raise standards across the sector, release pens and their role were a central part of the discussion. The pen scoring matrix was discussed in some detail as part of the wider conversation about improvements to release pens.

GFA proud to be part of Aim to Sustain (28th July 2021)

Nine leading rural organisations, including the GFA, have launched a new partnership that will promote sustainable game shooting. Aim to Sustain launched at The Game Fair at Ragley Hall on Friday July 23 with all the partner organisations represented (see right) or click here for official press release.

The partner organisations will all retain their independence but combine expertise and resources to communicate to the public and decision-makers how sustainability is at the core of progressive game management. The partnership will also promote the highest standards of self-regulation and produce credible, robust, and focused research.

Aim To Sustain launched with a 10-week ‘Have Your Say’ consultation that will seek the opinions of the quarter of a million-strong combined membership of the individual organisations. For further details and social media channels, visit the Aim to Sustain website.

Pen Scoring Matrix - Updated 28 July 2021 (13th July 2021)

As promised in our May issue of Game Farming, here is the new pen scoring matrix. It was developed by some of our Trade Member Vets in conjunction with the GFA. We hope you find it useful.

Pen Scoring Matrix

Gamebird Joint Communication 2021 (21st May 2021)

As with all sectors, but especially food producing sectors, there continues to be a need to further reduce the levels of antibiotics (AB) prescribed. In the attached communication (click the link below) are some summary figures from the 2020 collection, along with some reinforcement of the rules and regulations, as well as some exciting new initiatives to help forward our sector and help maintain the sustainability for future generations to come.

As a sector 2020 has been one of the hardest years on record, but huge congratulations are due to those that persevered through Covid and also helped to continue reducing our overall AB use.

Gamebird Joint Communication 2021

Bird Flu Update (15th May 2021)

GFA - Bird Flu updateDefra has announced that the National Avian Influenza Control Zone and associated biosecurity requirements will be lifted as of midday on May 15.

Whilst the AIPZ is being lifted, high standards of biosecurity should be retained by all bird keepers as infection may still be present in the environment and good biosecurity should be maintained for the health of your birds. (see for details)

Additional biosecurity measures would still apply in disease control zones surrounding infected premises. Check if and where disease control zones are in force and where higher risk areas are located on the interactive map. (see for details)

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This announcement follows a new risk assessment which was completed last week. There has been a significant reduction in the number of report cases across Europe and no new cases in the UK in the last few weeks.

The risk assessment concluded that: “The risk of avian influenza infection in wild birds remains low (rare but does occur). However, the risk of HPAI H5 exposure to poultry and captive birds across the whole GB has reduced from medium (occurs regularly) to low (rare but does occur) where biosecurity is sub-optimal and remains low (rare but does occur) where stringent biosecurity measures are applied.”

This will come as a relief in the game sector and should signal the beginning of the end of the outbreak. Work will now begin on analysing what can be learned and taken forward from it. There have recently been confirmed cases in wild pheasants for the first time, and as two of the confirmed cases in kept birds involved breeding pheasants, we will need to follow these reviews carefully to see if there is anything our sector can do to better protect itself in future.

Shooting group responds to NGDA statement (1st April 2021)

GFA News - imageA group of leading shooting and rural organisations, including the GFA, has released the following statement in response to the National Game Dealers Association’s (NGDA) announcing it is committed to sourcing all feather and fur game from lead free supply chains from 1 July 2022:

A spokesperson for BASC, the CA, the GFA and BGA said: “A strong game market and acceptance of game meat will mean a strong future for shooting. The continued use of lead shot has become a growing blocker for the game market. This was a key driver in the shooting organisation’s five-year voluntary transition away from lead shot for live quarry.

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“The NGDA represent an influential portion of the overall game dealers’ sector and their statement provides significant direction and leadership.”

“The shooting organisations continue to work towards a voluntary five-year transition but accept that changes within some areas of the sector may move quicker than in other areas.”

“The shooting organisations will continue to work with all stakeholders to support the transition through education, promotion and research and development in sustainable ammunition.”

New Vision for Game Farming (8th March 2021)

GFA - new Chairman news articleThe Game Farmers’ Association (GFA) has a new Chairman. George Davis was elected at its recent AGM and takes over from Dominic Boulton, who has completed his three-year term.

George comes from a family who have farmed gamebirds for generations, longer perhaps than any other in Britain, but George himself has new ideas and a clear vision for what he wants to achieve.

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“Game farmers faces many challenges and most are known to us. We need to come together and tackle them as one,” says George. “The GFA itself must be one step ahead, doing research and development to improve welfare and practicality in the production of quality gamebirds.

“Alongside this, our renowned political lobbying must continue and I am delighted that Dominic Boulton is going to be taking over much of Charles Nodder’s work now that he is retiring after 22 years as the GFA’s Political Adviser. We will also have assistance from the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust, a collaboration which I warmly welcome because securing a legislative future for our sector is clearly fundamental.”

George hopes that his new vision for a fully up to date gamebird sector with high standards and high levels of compliance will encourage more game rearers to join the Association:

“Think how much is spent on feeding reared gamebirds birds and on keeping them warm. With an inexpensive membership subscription to the GFA, you can continue to ensure that the sector remains politically viable, whilst having access to the latest research and advice. I urge all gamebird rearers to join the GFA and share in our journey towards a bright future.”

Wild Justice ‘would not have been successful’, Judge says (30th November 2020)

Shooting organisations have reacted positively to the publication of court papers that suggest Wild Justice’s Judicial Review on releasing gamebirds near to designated sites would not have been successful if heard.

As interested parties, the British Association for Shooting and Conservation, Countryside Alliance, Game Farmers’ Association and National Gamekeepers Organisation worked together to ensure Wild Justice were unsuccessful in their request to have a stop notice placed on all gamebird releases up to 5km away from designated sites such as Special Protection Areas (SPAs) and Special Areas of Conservation (SACs).

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After dismissing Wild Justice’s subsequent attempt to claim £35,000 costs for the case it instigated, the judge in the matter was critical of the group’s behaviour in the latter stages of the legal process.

Justice Holgate criticised Wild Justice for their “unacceptable” failure to deal with the content of a witness statement submitted by Defra in August which discussed the findings of their 18-month evidence-gathering review of gamebird releasing and outlined subsequent steps that would be taken by Defra and Natural England (NE).

Justice Holgate also cast doubt on the validity of the case brought by Wild Justice, who were claimants (C) against Defra and the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

He added: “It does not appear to me from the material before me (which includes the results of the review) that C would have been successful on the issue.”

And in direct relation to Wild Justice’s application to receive costs, Justice Holgate said: “Plainly, it cannot be said that C has been wholly or even substantially successful in relation to its claim as originally pleaded.

“I am inclined to the view that it would not have been successful… …I am left with the firm impression that the application for costs did not grapple with the real issues from the outset and should not have been made.”

A spokesperson for the shooting organisations said: “The costs order by Justice Holgate has vindicated our hard work and the original decision by the organisations to fight Wild Justice to ensure that we could become involved in the legal hearings.

“As interested parties, we were able to submit witness statements and support Defra to ensure that shooting’s voice was heard.

"It was reassuring to see the Judge set out the shortcomings of Wild Justice's case in his rejection of their application for costs."

"As a group of organisations, we now move on to focus on the Government's proposed interim licensing scheme for gamebird release in and near to certain protected sites. We are determined that the legitimate game management interests of our members are safeguarded from threats, wherever they come from."

New Avian Influenza Prevention Zone Announced (12th November 2020)

GFA - News imageThe Game Farmers' Association is advising its members that in response to the heightened risk of H5N8 highly pathogenic avian influenza, an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) has today been declared in England, Scotland and Wales.

It introduces, by law, additional biosecurity measures for all poultry and captive bird keepers, to protect their birds from the risk of infection. The measures apply to all poultry keepers, including keepers of captive gamebirds, regardless of the numbers of birds kept.

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Further details, including the measures that apply in the AIPZ, can be found:

For England at GOV.​UK:

For Scotland at GOV.SCOT: 

and for Wales at GOV.WALES:

We will keep the GFA website up to date if there are further major developments.

Defra propose gamebird releasing licence around protected sites (30th October 2020)

Blog image - GFA news storyShooting organisations have responded with scepticism to Defra’s proposal to implement a licensing system for gamebird release in and around European protected sites, even after Wild Justice have indicated their intention to withdraw their judicial review.

With no prior consultation with BASC, Countryside Alliance, National Gamekeepers Organisation or the Game Farmers’ Association - who were all interested parties in the case - Defra has announced its intention to introduce an interim licensing system. The system will encompass the release of pheasant and red-legged partridge in and within 500 metres of Special Protection Areas (SPAs) and Special Areas of Conservation (SACs). Wild Justice had originally demanded a 5 km buffer zone.

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Defra has not yet provided details of their proposal although a consultation on the licensing conditions is expected imminently.

The four shooting organisations believe a licensing system is not justified by the scientific evidence, even on an interim basis, that it is a misuse of the precautionary principle and may be unlawful. They are also concerned that it is open to further attack from anti-shooting organisations. They have demanded the following:

  • The shooting organisations must be fully involved with the consultation.
  • Defra, rather than Natural England, should implement any new licence.
  • The legislation for any interim licensing system should have the termination date clearly specified.
  • The conditions on any licence should be the GWCT’s rules for releasing, which are already the basis of self-regulation in game shooting.
  • Any licensing system must be in place by 1 February 2021 to allow shoots to plan for the season. If this is not possible the system should be delayed until 2022.

A spokesperson for the four organisations said: “We are supportive and fully committed to self-regulation and the principles of gamebird management in the interest of sustainable shooting. Defra’s proposed red tape under the precautionary principle will do little but threaten rural jobs, conservation efforts and a host of social benefits that shooting provides.

“Natural England’s wildlife licensing system has been proven unsuccessful as a light touch regulatory power and we remain unconvinced that Defra’s proposal for European designated sites will be fit for purpose.

“The proposal is better than Wild Justice’s time wasting demands that all releasing should be made illegal within 5km of designated sites but it is not justified by the scientific evidence, which is that the negative effects of gamebird releasing are highly localised and need to be weighed against the strong evidence of landscape scale benefits from the woodland management associated with shooting. If Defra is to secure cooperation from the shooting community, it must do better. At the moment, there is a great deal of scepticism that a unknown licensing system run by an underfunded public body can fix something that is not known to be ecologically damaging.”

The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Shooting and Conservation, chaired by Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP, has already held a meeting with the Secretary of State for Defra, George Eustice MP, where they expressed their concerns. In a follow up letter, the MPs called on Defra to work closely with the shooting organisations.

Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown said: “Many parliamentarians are concerned to ensure that shooting is not damaged by whatever Defra does. We will be fighting for a sensible evidence-based and proportionate outcome.”

Shooting organisations face up to gamebird release legal threat (23rd June 2020)

News image - GFABASC, the Countryside Alliance, the Game Farmers’ Association and the National Gamekeepers Organisation are joining the government in defending a judicial review against the release of gamebirds in and near to designated sites.

The High Court has announced today (23 June) that the case should be heard by the end of October. The substantive work to date by the shooting organisations through representations has meant that this will not impact on shooting this season.

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As interested parties the shooting organisations will be able to provide written and oral evidence prior to the hearing.

A spokesperson for the organisations, said: “The government has made its position clear, yet Wild Justice continue to take actions that necessitate them using valuable time and resources defending a court case at a time of national crisis. We are pleased to stand alongside government in facing down this challenge by this anti-shooting group.

“Due to Coronavirus, there is a massive amount of uncertainty in rural communities and yet Wild Justice continue to push their extremist agenda. We should be under no illusion that this review is yet another excuse for an attack on shooting.”

Antibiotic Use in Gamebirds MUST Fall Further (22nd April 2020)

News Image - GFAClick on the link below for the latest 2020 Joint Communication on Antibiotic Reduction in gamebirds.

Joint Communication on Antibiotic Reduction - Spring 2020

Template to record usage of Highest Priority Critically Important Antibiotics (15th April 2020)

News Image - GFA websiteHighest Priority Critically Important Antibiotics (HI-CIA) must only be used as a last resort under veterinary direction. Details and justification for each use must be recorded on the British Game Alliance CIA use template, together with the results of sensitivity or diagnostic testing.

Click on the link below to download a copy of the template.

Highest Priority Critically Important Antibiotics Template

Defra ask court to dismiss Wild Justice judicial review (8th April 2020)

News image - GFA websiteIn what is being described as extremely positive news by four leading shooting membership organisations, Defra has described Wild Justice’s judicial review seeking to restrict gamebird releases as ‘vexatious’ and ‘pointless’.

Defra has asked the court to refuse Wild Justice permission to bring the claim and goes further in asking to be awarded its costs.

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Defra’s hard-hitting submission is in response to an attempt by Wild Justice to substantially amend their judicial review to ensure that the 2021 release of game birds and the review currently being undertaken by Defra on gamebird releasing is not carried out unlawfully. Defra noted in its submissions to the court that Wild Justice are ‘shooting at the wrong target’ and should be refused permission to amend the judicial review.

A spokesperson for the four shooting membership organisations (BASC, Countryside Alliance, the Game Farmers’ Association and the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation), who are registered as interested parties in the case, said: “We welcome the fact that the Government has taken such a strong line in resisting this wholesale change of approach from Wild Justice. This judicial review is clearly misdirected in terms of the law and serves no purpose. Resources and expertise should be going towards reviewing gamebird releases, not unnecessary and pointless court cases.

“Wild Justice’s application to amend the grounds of their judicial review is an admission that their claim was misconceived. As interested parties we ask that Wild Justice do the right thing and drop the case now and await the outcome of Defra’s review.”

Gamebird release safe for 2020 after Wild Justice abandon application to fast-track legal challenge (27th March 2020)

News image - GFA websiteThe releasing of gamebirds this year will not be affected by court action after Wild Justice pulled back from asking for their legal challenge to be speeded up.

Wild Justice has conceded that it was unlikely that any remedies could be ordered by the court to affect the release of gamebirds in the 2020 season and has, therefore, withdrawn its request for the case to be expedited.

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Defra was joined by BASC, the Countryside Alliance, the Game Farmers’ Association and National Gamekeepers’ Organisation in making legal submissions that said there would be significant adverse impacts on countryside management if the court had followed an accelerated process.

A final decision on whether to allow a judicial review to proceed is now expected to come later this year.

A spokesperson for the shooting organisations, said: “Registering as interested parties has helped ensure that Wild Justice cannot impact on this coming season. We said that the rural calendar was set in stone and that Wild Justice’s challenge simply came too late for their points to be taken into account for 2020. This is a crucial time of the year for the British countryside and we are glad that Wild Justice has taken a pragmatic decision.

“This does not mean the case is closed. There is still a threat to the way we manage the countryside so our work will continue to ensure shooting’s voice is heard in any future legal challenge.

“Our four organisations have united to do what it takes to ensure the future of sustainable shooting for the benefit of the rural economy, conservation and social well-being.”

Shooting organisations unite for legal battle (16th March 2020)

GFA - news imageFour leading shooting organisations have joined forces to help fight Wild Justice’s latest judicial review against Defra on the legality of releasing gamebirds over designated sites.

The British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC), Countryside Alliance, Game Farmers’ Association and the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation have jointly applied to become interested parties in the proceedings.

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Wild Justice claim that releasing birds, even at considerable distance, could damage a European Protected Site (EPS) and that no game bird releasing should be allowed unless an assessment has shown there will be no impact on the area.

A spokesperson for the organisations said: “This case has direct consequences for thousands of our members and supporters who shoot; many of whom are also responsible for the care and management of these sites.

“It is essential that the shooting community involves itself in the proceedings at the earliest possible stage so that we can present a robust, evidence-based case to the court.

“No matter the cost, our voice needs to be heard during the proceedings. And time is of the essence. Many people involved in shooting have already begun preparations for next season which carry significant financial burden.

“The countryside does not operate to the same calendar as the judicial system and it is essential that point is delivered loud and clear to the court. Livelihoods and the health of the countryside are at risk if those making the decisions get this wrong.

“In their attempt to attack shooting, Wild Justice are putting at risk the responsible management, use and enjoyment of the countryside by farmers, land managers and the public at large, as well as endangering the very wildlife and environment which they claim to be interested in protecting.”

Gamebird Sector Calls for Further Reductions in Antibiotic Use (6th February 2020)

GFA - news imageOrganisations representing the gamebird rearing sector have called for a big push to further reduce the use of antibiotics in 2020, despite having already almost halved use overall since 2016.

The Game Farmers Association (GFA), Countryside Alliance, National Gamekeepers’ Organisation and the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust all want to see a continuing decline in antibiotic treatments used in the rearing of pheasants and partridges, in line with action currently being taken across all farm animal sectors in the UK.

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Their renewed call comes in response to figures for 2019 antibiotic usage calculated from prescriptions written by gamebird vets and collated by the GFA in collaboration with the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD). These show a small increase of 7% in 2019, associated with very wet weather during the rearing season and an unprecedented need to treat sick birds hit by the very challenging disease Mycoplasma.

In the previous two years, the gamebird sector had succeeded in reducing antibiotic use by 51%, with antibiotics incorporated in gamebird feed slashed by 70%. The organisations say they want to see a return to reductions in 2020. Additional plans are already underway to improve game rearing systems and biosecurity, so that fewer birds become sick and need treatment.

A spokesman for the GFA said, "2019 was a tough year for game rearers. More birds than usual succumbed to sickness - associated in part with terrible weather conditions – and as a result vets prescribed more soluble antibiotics than in the year before, much of it to treat bad outbreaks of Mycoplasma. Antibiotic incorporated in compounded feeds fell yet again, however, for the fourth year in a row.”

The GFA is meeting with gamebird vets, the VMD and Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture (RUMA) before the 2020 rearing season gets underway to put in place further reduction targets and other measures to bring antibiotic use down.

Professor Peter Borriello, Chief Executive Officer of the VMD, said: “It is encouraging to see in-feed antibiotic use continue to fall in the gamebird industry, although the increase in in-water and overall antibiotic use is disappointing. However, the openness of the gamebird industry to collect and publish its usage data is to be applauded. Given the fact that, even with the 2019 increase, antibiotic use has still reduced by 49% since 2016, we are confident that game farmers, gamekeepers and their vets will investigate the reasons for last year’s increase, develop a plan of action and continue to focus on reducing the need to use antibiotics through improvements in husbandry, biosecurity and disease prevention.”

The gamebird sector has already made changes that are expected to contribute to further falls in antibiotic use. A new Game Farm Audit to ensure high standards, including disease prevention, has recently been launched by the British Game Alliance. Other industry bodies, including the GFA, are funding urgent research into gamebird diseases, including Mycoplasma.


 A spokesman for the gamebird organisations said that all gamebird rearers needed to work with their vets towards further antibiotic reductions. “Much has been achieved in only three years and with new initiatives underway and growing investment in rearing equipment, we expect further reductions to follow.”

Chris Lloyd, secretary general for RUMA, said “The gamebird sector is to be congratulated for its progress to date, which has seen not just significant reductions in antibiotic use but positive changes in practice as well.

“What the sector is now experiencing is similar to that seen in other farm animal sectors, where the easier wins have been had and a change of approach is needed to gain the harder reductions.

“However, the united approach, transparency and accountability of sector leaders shows there is determination to overcome these inevitable setbacks. Their continued participation in the Targets Task Force and commitment to work with others to set further reduction targets post-2020 illustrate that the sector is determined to continue making progress.”

6 February 2020

Listen/watch last week's Avian Influenza Readiness Webinar (17th October 2019)

Blog image - GFAIf you missed last week's Avian Influenza Readiness Webinar, organised by UK Poultry Health & Welfare Group, or if you would like to listen/watch it again, you can by using the link below:

Avian Influenza Readiness Webinar - listen again

17 October 2019

Leading organisations respond to Defra's new general licences (16th June 2019)

image - GFA NewsRead the latest press release below regarding the current situation on  general licences.

Genuine progress has been made and three new general licences released by Defra today (14 June 2019) are fit for purpose in most circumstances.  However significant work still remains regarding protected sites, the leading countryside organisations have said.

Representing a range of rural stakeholders, the chief executives of BASC and the Countryside Alliance met environment secretary Michael Gove MP this morning to discuss Defra’s new licences.

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The new licences cover the majority of activity which is undertaken in the English countryside for pest control, crop protection and also satisfy the need to provide control to protect public health.

However, the organisations have told Defra they cannot agree the approach to “protected sites”, home to much of our most important wildlife, where there will be additional licence requirements.  This will be captured by a further Defra consultation this summer.

BASC chief executive Ian Bell said: “The organisations have worked extensively in the background with Defra and we are content that the new, additional general licences issued today will be fit for purpose in many areas but significant concerns remain around protected sites.

“We appreciate that it’s not a perfect situation and there may still be some confusion; the organisations will continue to be on hand to steer our members through. The organisations have told Defra that we expect any gaps to picked up by the consultation in the summer.”

Countryside Alliance chief executive Tim Bonner said: “Whilst we remain very concerned about the initial decision by Natural England to revoke the general licences we are grateful for the Secretary of State’s intervention.

“Since Defra has taken back control of the licences we have seen significant progress and for most people managing most species the situation is now back as it was. The discussion does not, however, stop here and we will seek to resolve the outstanding issues as part of the planned consultation later this year.”

Liam Bell, NGO chairman, said: "Two cheers to Defra for sorting out most of the mess left after NE's licence revocations in April. We reserve our third cheer until they have also addressed the remaining issues in protected sites. The team-working between the shooting organisations has been great on this and a big reason for the turnarounds gained so far. We look forward to playing our part in finishing the job."

Amanda Anderson, director of the Moorland Association, said: “European designated sites will not be covered by these new general licences. If owners or occupiers have not yet applied for an individual licence to carry out vital work to protect chicks, they should.

“We have made the point forcefully to Defra that it is almost beyond belief that precious areas that support incredible bird life are being left out, areas that have been designated for their important birds and habitats. Pest bird control, certainly in the uplands, has been a contributing factor to their success.

“Making conservation in these areas harder to achieve is a disaster for our wildlife. Defra's precautionary approach and EU rules could preside over the extinction of our best loved moorland birds like the curlew, lapwing, golden plover, if a way forward cannot be found.”

Country Land and Business Association (CLA) president, Tim Breitmeyer said: “We are pleased that progress has been made and that the concerns of rural groups have been taken on board. We will keep working collaboratively with Defra and others to help resolve any outstanding issues.

“This includes engaging with the future consultation this summer, ensuring the emergence of a robust and fit-for-purpose licensing system which protects the interests of farming and food production, as well as the conservation of wildlife.”

Game Farmers' Association chairman Dominic Boulton said: "This is good news. Our members will now be able to get back to business and control problem birds as before. Livelihoods had been threatened by NE's revocations but the situation is now much improved."

Sir Jim Paice, GWCT chairman, said: “We must congratulate Defra for producing these new licences so quickly under difficult circumstances. They may not be perfect, but it is clear they carefully considered all 4,000 consultation responses which provided them with the information they needed to reach this stage. The GWCT will continue to work closely with Defra to share our science to ensure those that manage our countryside have the right tools to do the job.”

16 June 2019

Natural England forced into shooting licence u-turn after government reinstates original system (16th June 2019)

Image - GFA NewsDefra has forced a shooting licence U-Turn after taking over from Natural England following a fiasco in which farmers were banned from protecting their land from pests.

Read the article which appeared in the Telegraph on Friday 14 June. A great quote from our Chairman, as well as Tim Bonner, the chief executive of The Countryside Alliance.

Natural England forced into shooting licence u-turn after government reinstates original system

16 June 2019

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Anger as General Licences are Revoked Without Notice (24th April 2019)

GFA - Blog imageThe Game Farmers' Association is advising all members that Natural England (NE) is revoking the three main General Licences for the control throughout England of birds such as crows, magpies and woodpigeons.

The shock decision, which applies from one minute to midnight on Thursday 25 April 2019, was announced with no prior warning and at less than 48 hours notice. It has been greeted with anger and derision by the shooting community and its representative organisations. 

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Game farmers often control corvids around their laying pens and rearing fields in the spring but once the licences are revoked, that essential protection will become illegal.

NE says that it will introduce a new replacement online system for applying for individual licences, under which some control may still be lawful, but as of now no such system is in place. It is hard to see that it could possibly replace, at speed, the daily use of the General Licences by thousands of farmers, gamekeepers and pest controllers.

GFA Chairman, Dominic Boulton, said it was a disgrace that NE was effectively changing the law at no notice, apparently panicked into an over-reaction by a legal challenge mounted by anti shooting campaigners. (No equivalent revocations have been made in Scotland and Wales, despite their General Licences having exactly the same legal basis).

"We had no more notice of this fiasco than anyone else," said Dominic. "It is exactly the sort of shambles that game farmers could do without at this critical time of year when they are trying to protect eggs and chicks from predation by corvids."

The shooting organisations are working together to get the decision reversed or a workable replacement licensing system in place as soon as possible.

For more information we recommend viewing the websites of BASC, the Countryside Alliance and the National Gamekeepers' Organisation.

24 April 2019

BVPA working group recommendations for Mycoplasma management in gamebirds (26th February 2019)

Blog image - GFA BVPAThe British Veterinary Poultry Association (BVPA) working group has now agreed its recommendations on Mycoplasma management in gamebirds – please click on the link below to read the recommendations.

BVPA working group recommendations for Mycoplasma management in gamebirds


26 February 2019


Gamebird Producers Slash Antibiotic Use (24th October 2018)

GFA - blog imageFigures released today (24 October 2018)  show that in the two years since the gamebird sector rolled out its voluntary campaign to reduce antibiotics, overall use has fallen by 51%, with antibiotics incorporated in gamebird feed slashed by 70%.

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The figures, announced by The Game Farmers’ Association (GFA), have been calculated in collaboration with Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) and are based on prescriptions written by gamebird vets throughout the UK. [Note: All antibiotic use must be prescribed by a vet. Gamebirds are reared in the spring and released into the countryside in the summer, which is why the 2018 results are already available].

A spokesman for the GFA said, "A further year of good engagement by the gamebird sector in 2018 has brought overall usage of antibiotics down by another 24% this year. Together with last year’s substantial fall, this confirms that the industry has halved antibiotic use since our voluntary campaign was rolled out in 2016.”

Detailed analysis of the 2018 result shows that in-feed use fell by 35% this year, whilst use of AB in soluble treatments fell by 10%. The difference reflects a continuing focus on treating actual disease outbreaks rather than feeding medicated rations 'just in case', and also the need to treat some late disease outbreaks associated with the excessively hot summer.

Professor Peter Borriello, Chief Executive Officer of the VMD, said:  “Reducing antibiotic use in gamebirds by a further 24% in 2018 and 51% over the last two years is an impressive achievement. The Game Farmers Association should be congratulated for mobilising the industry, as should the game farmers, gamekeepers and their vets for their commitment in bringing down antibiotic use. We encourage everyone to continue this good work.”

Chris Lloyd, Secretary General of Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture Alliance (RUMA) , which is coordinating work across all livestock sectors to drive responsible use of antibiotics in the face of worldwide concerns about antimicrobial resistance, said: “We welcome these hugely encouraging results, not least as the continuing falls in antibiotic use in gamebirds have been achieved through a real focus on good management and improved biosecurity.”

The reductions were also welcomed by the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC), the Countryside Alliance (CA), the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust, the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation and the Scottish Gamekeepers’ Association.

Jack Knott, Countryside Alliance Campaigns Manager, said, "The whole shooting community can be justifiably proud of the progress made over the past two years, but we must ensure that this is only the end of the beginning. These excellent results must encourage us to keep driving down the use of antibiotics."

Glynn Evans, BASC's head of game and deer management, said: "These are encouraging results due to the whole sector working together. It is important that we continue to keep up the momentum. This year's performance is another significant step in the campaign to continue reducing antibiotic use."

The lessons learned from this year’s gamebird rearing season will be collated during November at a meeting of specialist vets and representatives of the game feed trade, hosted by the Game Farmers’ Association. Advice arising from that meeting will be provided free of charge to all game rearers in pursuit of further antibiotic reductions next year.

RUMA win prestigious award for antibiotic work (2nd July 2018)

GFA blog imageRUMA's Target Task Force initiative, in which the GFA plays a major role, won a prestigious international award for antibiotic reduction work last week, beating off many rivals, including many in the human health sector. This award recognises our AB reduction work.

The third Antibiotic Guardian awards took place on 27th June 2018. They celebrate the work of healthcare professionals across England in tackling antimicrobial resistance and form part of the ongoing Antibiotic Guardian campaign which is led by Public Health England. Click here to read the Press Release which RUMA issued after their win in the Prescribing and Stewardship award category. 

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For details of other winners and the runners up, visit Antiboitic Guardian Awards 2018 Awards website.

GFA host important fact-finding visits to a member’s game farm (22nd May 2018)

GFA - Blog imageThe Game Farmers’ Association hosted two important fact-finding visits to a member’s game farm in late May 2018.

One was for a team of officials from Defra and the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA), and the other was for officials from mainland Europe. 

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On 21st May, the Game Farmers’ Association hosted two important fact-finding visits. The first was for a team of officials from Defra and the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) who in particular deal with outbreaks of notifiable avian diseases such as Bird Flu.

During incursions of these diseases into the UK, not only do game farmers have the worry that their birds might become infected, they also have to contend with control measures such as movement bans and orders to separate kept birds from wild birds. These rules are often inevitably designed for the much larger poultry sector and not always appropriate for game.

The officials were shown how gamebird production necessarily differs from indoor poultry and how restrictions and licensing decisions can help or hinder the game sector, worth a staggering £2.2 billion to the UK economy each year.

The second visit was by officials from mainland Europe working to reduce antibiotics across all livestock sectors. Two were from DG Sante, the EU department of animal health, whilst others work within EU member states; France, Belgium and the Netherlands. The experts included individuals from Italy and Ireland.

Antibiotic reduction is essential to preserve these vitally important medications for human and animal health and the visitors were keen to hear how the GFA is spearheading a successful campaign to bring AB use down throughout the UK gamebird sector. Good bird management and hygiene are key starting points for AB reduction and it is therefore no surprise that during these two important visits, biosecurity was tight.

The GFA hosts similar fact-finding visits for politician and officials whenever they may help the long term future of the game farming profession.

Gamebird Sector Cuts Antibiotics by 36% (27th October 2017)

GFA blog imageOrganisations involved in shooting and gamebird management have welcomed a big fall in the amount of antibiotic used in the rearing of pheasants and partridges in the UK.

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Figures endorsed by the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) have been released today showing that antibiotics used in gamebirds were brought down voluntarily by 36% in 2017 compared to 2016, including a 53% reduction for those administered in gamebird food. (Gamebirds are reared in the spring, which is why the 2017 results are already available).

The 36% fall comfortably exceeds the 25% official reduction target for gamebirds in 2017, developed by the sector and agreed by the VMD earlier this year. The actual reduction was calculated from veterinary prescribing records. Vets are responsible for prescribing all antibiotics administered to gamebirds.

The encouraging results come at a time when all livestock sectors have been asked by Government to reduce their use of antibiotics in the face of global concerns about antimicrobial resistance – the evolution of bugs that will not respond to treatment with antibiotics.

A spokesman for the above shooting and gamebird management organisations said, “These large reductions have been achieved voluntarily and in just one year through the hard work of game farmers, gamekeepers, the veterinary profession and the game feed trade. We welcome today’s results as an excellent start to our continuing campaign for antibiotic reduction.”

Professor Peter Borriello, Chief Executive Officer of the VMD, said, “The significant reductions achieved in 2017, the same year that the sector started to collect and scrutinise its antibiotic usage data, highlight the strong commitment of the game bird industry to bring down antibiotic use. The reductions achieved in 2017 are to be highly commended, and are an encouragement to all to continue the good work.”

John Fitzgerald, General Secretary of RUMA (Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture Alliance), whose conference, ‘Facing Up to the Antimicrobial Resistance Challenge’ was held in London today, said, “We congratulate our colleagues in the game sector on their excellent 2017 antibiotic reduction results. The enthusiasm and commitment with which the whole sector has engaged with this process is exemplary and we have every confidence that they will achieve further reductions in future years.”

Antibiotics are used in gamebird rearing, as in other livestock sectors, for the treatment of natural diseases. Their use is sometimes essential for welfare reasons but administration of antibiotics can be reduced through good biosecurity and correct management, in close liaison with specialist vets.

The lessons learned from this year’s gamebird rearing season will be collated during November at a meeting of vets being hosted by the Game Farmers’ Association. Advice arising from that meeting will be provided free of charge to all game rearers in anticipation of further antibiotic reductions next year.

GFA Opens Doors to Defra (30th July 2017)

GFA blog imageThe Game Farmers' Association (GFA) this week showed Defra round a game farm in the Home Counties where the main issue under discussion was the prevention of Bird Flu. 

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The visitors were from Defra and the Animal and Plant Health Agency, which together work to keep the country free from Bird Flu and oversee its eradication when outbreaks occur.

Bird Flu is a notifiable disease currently circulating world-wide in various forms. It can affect all birds, captive or wild, and is often fatal, costing bird farmers dearly. Outbreaks impact on trade and some strains can also pass to humans, although this is rare. The Government has strict rules for eradication and for keeping birds in ways that reduce the risk of outbreaks.

The visit was an opportunity to build on the excellent cooperation that exists between Government and the gamebird sector. Discussion subjects included the restrictions that can apply on game farms during outbreaks and also best practice for keeping pheasants through the winter for egg production.

A GFA spokesman said, "This was a valuable 'peacetime' visit to review the overall disease situation and the often complex regulations that apply. It was also useful for more Government officials to see first-hand a game farm in operation and the measures that are constantly in place to minimise infection."