The British Game Alliance (BGA) has put considerable research into raising standards in the game industry through its established Shoot Standards and now with the introduction of a new audit for Game Farms.
The BGA have worked in conjunction with the Game Farmer’s Association (GFA) and leading game bird veterinary specialists to develop the proposed new audit, that will demonstrate BGA assured products are sourced from enterprises that carry out best practice and achieve the highest welfare standards throughout the supply chain.
The BGA’s Game Farm Standards have been written based on the current code that DEFRA produced, specifically relating to game birds used for sporting purposes. The code recommends good practice from a health and welfare perspective and the BGA have added specific recommendations to update the code to reflect the current issues that the industry faces, including stocking densities and the introduction of an animal passport.
The new standards have been written by specialist game vets in association with Acoura, DEFRA and the GFA. The audit will be operated independently by Acoura, who also audit the BGA member shoots, visiting participating game farms including hatcheries and laying flocks. The audit investigates all aspects of game farming and is divided into three sections; laying, hatching and rearing. The BGA recognise that no two game farms are the same, but all should be able to comply with the welfare code and show best practice.
The BGA has a pilot scheme in place this summer and, following analysis of the information gathered, aims to roll this out nationally. Members of the Game Bird Vet Specialists (BVPA) and other shooting organisations, including the National Game Keepers Association (NGO), will have an opportunity to feed into the review process before being rolled out next year.
Tom Adams, MD of the BGA said, “In any other food producing sector, businesses supplying food to consumers require information about the process of rearing the animal – whether it be for welfare or disease control. This is becoming more important to businesses, such as major supermarkets, who are increasingly taking full ownership of this traceability.”
He continued, “Focusing on game bird welfare, the BGA hopes that where a meat supply business demands BGA status, they will also seek BGA accredited game farms. This will demonstrate that the product is sourced from enterprises that carry out best practice and achieve the highest welfare standards throughout the supply chain.”
Alan Beynon of St David’s Vets, who has assisted in creating the audit says, “The welfare of these birds is crucial and as a vet I understand that the better conditions that we rear these birds in, the less disease we have and the more enrichment that can be provided, the better the birds fly. We have added to the code specific stocking densities which allows the birds the best possible start as well as introducing an animal passport which transfers any information between the parties buying and selling the birds similar to that which exists in the poultry Industry.”
Alan continued, “Long term, we intend to start to add into the code disease monitoring controls to start to tackle Specific challenges such as mycoplasma and to start to eradicate this from the National flock. Gamekeepers are very proud of what they contribute to the environment and seeking best practice and doing what is right is very much high on their agenda.”
The BGA wishes to thank the Game Farms taking part in this year’s pilot scheme and also welcomes Game Farms that are interested in taking part in the scheme to contact the BGA for more information here.
If you would be interested in an interview or further comment, please contact Emma Sandham on the details below.
Account Manager at Zambuni