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Random welfare inspections for Scottish gamebirds to start soon

From February 2013 the Government’s Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA) will conduct random inspections on farms and estates where gamebirds are bred, hatched and held in captivity to ensure welfare standards  are being met.

Under the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006, an owner or keeper of birds kept in captivity and under human care is responsible for their welfare according to the Code of Practice for the Welfare of Gamebirds Reared for Sporting Purposes  http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2011/03/03123557/0   It is quite clear that no specific problems have been identified with gamebirds; the purpose of the visits is to provide information to the Government on the level of compliance with the Act and the Code which focus on welfare. Such concerns are commonplace for farmed livestock, poultry and fish farms.

AHVLA intend to to give at least 24 hours notice of their visits, but will try to be as accommodating as possible to avoid wasted time on both sides.  Around 25 sites, chosen at random from the registered list of 600 or so premises where captive gamebirds are held in Scotland, will be inspected between February and April, and a further 25 in May to July.   Locations will be spread across Scotland and will include game farmers and those holding birds in release pens. 

Inspectors will make inspections (which will include biosecurity and record keeping) according to a pro-forma with each section being scored A-D.  Those which score “D” will be given a short time to rectify the issues identified.  “C” grading will mean a follow-up visit perhaps a year later. Grades B are considered effective passes with limited remedial action and A are passes. The inspectors will not test for diseases and will not take poults away for analysis.   Every site inspected will receive a letter of compliance or requirements within 5 days after the inspection.

This is a new provision and AHVLA have discussed it with and received introductory training from GWCT and SAC (now SRuC) advisors and vets.  There is no right of appeal following an inspection (except at law) but you may ask for a vet or advisor from a recognised body such as GWCT or BASC to be present at the visit. There are no GAEC/SFP implications to a failed inspection.

 

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