Gamekeeper jobs put in jeopardy

12 February 1999

Gamekeeper jobs put in jeopardy

A £500m industry and many gamekeeper jobs are at risk because of an EU ban on the feed medication Emtryl used to control disease in reared game birds.

Feed manufacturer Harbro has urged gamekeepers to lobby their professional body, vets, and MPs to seek a further derogation of the EU ruling. "Only Britain has a large game bird rearing industry and the intensive husbandry means routine medication in feed is vital for the welfare of birds and the health of the industry," said Harbro director Peter Kenyon.

More than 5000 registered gamekeepers produce 25m reared pheasants and partridges each year. At £20 per bird shot, the industry is worth £500m a year. "Without the use of this drug to control disease, the mortality rate will be so high that the whole operation will be uneconomic and thousands of jobs will be lost in the rearing industry as well as a huge loss of income from shooting," Mr Kenyon said.

Rearing game birds accounted for 75,000t compound feed – 20% of it in Scotland – as well as 50,000t of wheat. A one-year derogation on the Emtryl ban was granted to Britain last year. Drug manufacturer Rhone Merieux has said the product will no longer be available when existing stocks are exhausted.

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