“Vet checked” - the true meaning

Checking the condition of every bird can be difficult on bigger game famrs, where birds will be leav

Checking the condition of every bird can be difficult on bigger game famrs, where birds will be leaving every day... it is also hard to get a representative example when birds are coming from different sheds - Credit: Archant

What does it really mean when you buy “vet checked” birds from a game farmer? Rita Alves of Dalton’s Game Consultancy offers expert advice for keepers

Q: A lot of game farmers advertise their birds as “vet checked” – what does that mean?

RITA ALVES of Dalton’s Game Consultancy replies: In recent years, possibly due to the rise in the number of game birds reared in the UK and subsequent competition, there are many game farmers selling their birds as ‘vet checked’. I believe it is also a result of the rising of standards of the profession, where sellers try to guarantee that their birds were checked by a veterinary surgeon who ensures they are free of disease when they leave their rearing field.

To certify that, birds should ideally be inspected the day before delivery and a representative number of birds should be examined by post mortem to check that they do not have any underlying conditions such as coccidiosis, Spironucleosis (Hexamita) and worms.

Body condition and general condition of the bird should also be considered. Unfortunately, this is not always possible – especially for big game farms, where birds will be leaving the game farm every day. When your birds are coming from different sheds it can also be difficult to take a representative sample. Sometimes diseases – even sub-clinical ones – can occur in some sheds and not in others from the same batch.

Regrettably, the expression ‘vet checked’ can be misleading as many game farmers have weekly vet visits instead, which may be several days before your birds are moved. Our advice is that you always ask your supplier exactly what is done and when. A reputable game farmer should have a health plan in place and be able to decide that the birds are fit and healthy to be moved. If birds can be inspected and examined by a vet before or on a regular basis that would reduce the chances of birds being delivered with subclinical disease, but it will not always guarantee that they are free from disease.

It is also important to remember that even if they have been vet checked, and you suspect something is wrong with your birds, always seek advice from your vet straight away.