The British Game Alliance (BGA) has developed a new audit and set of game farm standards, based on the current Defra code. The audit and standards specifically relate to game birds used for sporting purposes and have been backed by the Game Farmer’s Association (GFA), the British Veterinary Poultry Association (BVPA) and the UK’s shooting organisations.
Following the pilot scheme conducted in summer 2019 and feedback from the relevant organisations, the code recommends good practice from a health and welfare perspective and the BGA has added specific recommendations to update the code to reflect the current issues that the industry faces, including stocking densities and Mycoplasma Testing.
The audit investigates all aspects of game farming and is divided into three sections; laying, hatching and rearing. This will demonstrate to retailers and food businesses that BGA assured game is sourced from enterprises that carry out best practice and achieve the highest welfare standards throughout the supply chain.
Shoots that rear its own gamebirds with less than 10,000 head of game will not need to sign up for a game farm audit. If a shoot rears over 10,000, it will be considered a game farm and is encouraged to undertake the audit.
Dominic Boulton, Chairman of GFA, said: “The GFA supports this new initiative and has been involved with the development of the scheme. We encourage all game rearers (whether GFA members or not) to participate in the audit and demonstrate their commitment to all that it stands for. Against the backdrop of mounting political and anti-shooting pressure this scheme represents a huge opportunity to protect our livelihoods and be proud of our businesses.”
Liam Bell, chairman of the National Game Keeper’s Organisation (NGO) said: “The NGO supports measures to improve confidence and traceability in game farms. Measures which may ultimately help reduce our antibiotic use further and help eradicate some of our more common hereditary game bird diseases.”
New Test Developed for Mycoplasma in Gamebirds
The BGA is also pleased to announce through its soon to be launched ‘Health Plan Service’, the availability of the first ever validated blood test for Mycoplasma in Game Birds, exclusively part of the BGA’s game farm audit.
Mycoplasma Gallisepticum is commonly known as “bulgy eye” or “swollen head” and is becoming a more common disease in the UK game bird population, affecting flying performance. Developed by SciTech Laboratories and the British Game Alliance in conjunction with St David’s Gamebird Services, Mycoplasma Testing can be used to identify disease in new season poults as well as breeding stock collected from shoots at the end of the season. Alan Beynon, BGA Board Director has spent the last year bleeding birds from known positive stock to create validity for blood testing.