Game Bird Quarterly Update

Author: Helen Errington BVMS CertSHP MRCVS, St David’s Game Bird Services.
Reviewed:
Published: July 2018

St David's Game Bird Services

Summer 18

Vets at St David's Game Bird Services

The majority of the UK has seen next to no rain over the last few months. In the South/South East, the hot weather has provided good brooding results despite variable chick quality after the very poor weather over the laying season. Yolk sac infections have also been present but they are not as severe as last year. We have seen multiple sites with stubborn coccidiosis challenges in partridges with excessive caecal cores but with extended treatment these situations have now been resolved. (Fig 1). Pheasants have started to go to wood and we are seeing a few early signs of spironucleus. There has been a significant reduction in spironucleus outbreaks on the rearing fields compared to last year and we are sure the weather has made this difference. Heat stress has been an issue in some areas but in general this has been well controlled with good husbandry, additional drinkers and in-water supplements.

Fig 1 Caecal cores found in coccidiosis challenges

In Shropshire and the surrounding area, Mycoplasmosis has been a particular issue. It is critical that all cases of "Bulgy eye" are investigated given it is often multifactorial in origin. (Fig 2). Again, largely due to warmer, drier conditions, the rearing season has resulted in improved bird health generally. Supporting the intestine with the application of Ultimate Acid and Coccilin plus has improved liveability and weight gain noticeably.

Fig 2  Foamy eye discharge due to Mycoplasma gallisepticum infection

Around Cumbria and the surrounding areas, we have seen more coccidiosis in partridges than in other years and more incidence of severe caecal core formation, similarly to the South/South East area. In this area, we have also seen spironucleosis incidence less than in previous seasons. We found that there was poor egg production and hatchability early on in the season. During post mortem examinations, we have seen a few young grouse chicks with bulgy eye-respiratory cryptosporidiosis.

We have seen the usual incidences of rotavirus, yolk sac, non-specific enteritis in pheasants. There have also been a couple of cases of chicks overheating and in a small number of cases boxes overturning on transport. We have also seen gapeworms in partridge a couple of times in this area. (Figs 3 and 4)

Fig Enlarged infected yolk sac showing purulent contents

Fig 4 Stunting and unevenness of poults post rotavirus infection

There have also been reports on several moors that large numbers of chicks are being lost. Post mortem examinations have shown very large numbers of tapeworms in these young birds and the unprecedented hot weather may have increased the numbers of the insect intermediate hosts for this parasite. The affected birds had enteritis and in some cases the gut had ballooned and the parasites were effectively causing a blockage.

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