Duffields Animal Feeds

Game feed and ruminants.An important message to customers

Gamebird feed and ruminants: Advice from the VMD and APHA

The Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) has been notified that there have been some concerns recently over livestock having access to game feed. As a result officials at the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) are trying to raise awareness of the dangers concerned.

This information, put together by the APHA, is being published in the Agency’s surveillance highlights report and it is understood that something similar is shortly to be put in the Veterinary Record surveillance report.

The VMD has asked AIC to circulate this information to alert members so that you can, in turn, inform farmers of the risks.

Gamebird feed and ruminants: Two incidents in quick succession have highlighted risks to ruminants from gamebird feed. One incident involved medicated partridge feed being fed on moorland being co-grazed by sheep; the second involved medicated pheasant feed to which beef cows and calves had access.  Unintended exposure to medicated feed is bad practice and unacceptable for many environmental and animal related reasons.  These include:-

  • Clinical disease and death due to unregulated access to grain based feed. This could potentially cause grain overload and clostridial disease.
  • Clinical disease and death due to unregulated access to feed medicated with lasalocid causing ionophore toxicity.
  • Unintended exposure of ruminants to medications in feed which were not intended to be fed to ruminants.  This requires a prolonged withdrawal period to be set and observed.
  • Exposure of ruminants to gamebird feed which contains fish protein and as such is a breach of the Animal by-Products Regulations.
  • Failure to follow guidance recommendations for the use of medicated feed including those associated with antimicrobial resistance.

The clinical signs of ionophore toxicity in ruminants include sudden death, diarrhoea, respiratory signs and recumbency, and pathological findings include focal cardiomyopathy, skeletal muscle necrosis and pulmonary oedema.

Colleagues are advised to be alert to the problem at this time of year and to actively address the potential food chain issues by preventing further access.  Information regarding what is in the feed is required.  Please report suspected incidents to APHA at an early stage.