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Latest news and events...

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.”

Shoot Liaison Committee Covid Restrictions Letter (20th June 2020)

News image - GFAThe Game Farmers' Association, along with BASC, Countryside Alliance, GWCT, Moorland Association, the NGO and the BGA, have sent a joint letter to Ministers highlighting the significant importance and benefit that game shooting delivers to the well-being of the countryside. Game shooting can play an extremely important part in helping many individual participants, fragile rural communities and the wider economy during the COVID pandemic, but in order to do so there are wider issues around easing restrictions which first need to be considered by Government. The letter explains how precautions can easily be applied during a day’s game shooting to ensure there is no increase in risk in relation to the transmission of COVID-19, and it lists the regulatory changes that will be needed to enable game shooting to go ahead. Ideally, and pandemic permitting, these adjustments should be in place by 12 August. You can read the letter here

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.”

Game Farmers’ Association Update Covid-19 - A message from our Chairman (25th March 2020)

News image - GFA websiteDear GFA Members

As we all battle with the challenges posed by Covid-19, I wanted to send you an update.

The GFA Committee met yesterday via a 90-minute telephone conference call. We made excellent progress on some really important issues, including a decision to play a full part in resisting legal proceedings by Wild Justice to restrict gamebird releasing. But you will primarily be interested in what was said about Covid-19.

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- All game farmers present reported impacts arising from the disease

- Orders are down, in some cases well down, because of the economic situation but primarily the uncertainty about when restrictions might be lifted in relation to shooting

- Some game farmers have asked customers to share the risk by paying non-returnable deposits, even up to 50%, this has been well-received by some shoots, so it’s not all bad

- Most committee members reported that their gas and feed suppliers had undertaken to continue supplying them and eggs have been coming in from France

- Veterinary practices have made adjustments to the ways they work but are generally saying that they will be able to support game farms

- Some workers expected from Europe have been caught up in travel restrictions

The general feeling was that this is a year to focus on business survival rather than anything more. Checking with all suppliers and service providers (e.g. vets) their expected ability to operate is vital and sharing the risk with customers by requiring those all-important deposits is essential.

It was pointed out that there is in any case a need to rear breeding birds for 2021 and also that the cost of incubating eggs is relatively small compared to the later rearing stages, potentially providing a later point at which decisions can be made as to numbers to rear.

Each game farmer must of course make their own decisions, but we are all bound by the Government restrictions. These are all on the website but for convenience, the most relevant sections are:

Social distancing, travel to work and businesses:

Note especially in section 4 of this link that with the exception closing non-essential shops and public spaces, the Government has not required any other businesses to close – “indeed it is important for business to carry on”, they say.

For Businesses


For Employees

I hope this update helps you to develop your own thinking on dealing with this terrible situation. On the committee call I think we all felt helped by sharing the problem and our experiences with other game farmers, similarly affected. I would encourage you to discuss and share your thinking with others as we did yesterday. There may be practical outcomes such as passing on any remaining customers from a farm which has decided to mothball this year. And remember that there is help and advice available from the banks, accountancy firms, and the personal support charities.

My best wishes to you all and stay safe,

Dominic Boulton


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

Low Pathogenic H5 Bird Flu found on poultry unit in Suffolk (12th December 2019)

Blog image - GFAWe have just been alerted by Defra to the confirmation of Low Pathogenic H5 Bird Flu on a poultry unit in mid Suffolk. Click below for the Defra press release and the declaration and map:

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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

Avian Influenza Readiness Webinar - Register Now! (28th September 2019)

GFA - Blog ImageUK Poultry Health & Welfare Group are delighted to announce that registration for the Avian Influenza Webinar is now open. Taking place from 3pm to 4pm on Wednesday 9 October 2019, this webinar will be filmed and streamed live from London and has been designed to keep everyone aware and thinking about biosecurity. Please note that because the event will be recorded, it can be sent to those who are unable to participate on the day.

So if you want to hear the thoughts of The British Poultry Council, National Farmers Union, British Egg Industry Council ,The British Veterinary Poultry Association and The Game Farmers' Association, then don't forget to register using the link below:

Avian Flu Readiness Webinar Registration

28 September 2019

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Save the Date - GFA to take part in Avian Influenza Readiness Webinar (10th September 2019)

GFA - News ImageWhatever you are planning on doing on 9 October from 15.00 - 15.30, don't forget to tune in for a special Webinar on Avaian Influenza (AI) Readiness.

Charles Nodder, the GFA's Media and Political Advisor, together with representatives from other poultry sectors, will be filmed and streamed live from London talking about AI and the need to be prepared for it - whatever type of birds are being kept.

The webinar is only 30 mins long, and we hope to keep everyone aware and thinking about biosecurity.

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So if you want to hear the thoughts of The British Poultry Council, National Farmers Union, British Egg Industry Council ,The British Veterinary Poultry Association and The Game Farmers' Association, then don't forget to check back here to find our more. Further details about the event will be circulated in due course. 

10 September 2019