Animal Aid

Overview of the shooting campaign

Every year in Britain, around 50 million pheasants and partridges are mass-produced like commercial poultry so that they can be shot down by wealthy 'guns', who might pay £1,000 or more per day for the 'privilege'.

Animal Aid first exposed the obscenity of metal battery cages, in which pheasants and partridges used for breeding are confined, in November 2004. Inside each unit, one cock pheasant and eight to ten females are incarcerated for the whole of their productive lives. Many of the birds wear 'anti-aggression' face masks, whose purpose is to prevent the stressed birds from attacking one another. In a desperate attempt to escape the cages, the pheasants repeatedly fly upwards into the cage roof, causing what is known in the industry as ‘scalping’ to their heads.

Because of the enfeeblement that results from their offspring being reared in sheds, around half of the birds die before they can be gunned down. They perish from exposure, starvation, disease, predation or under the wheels of motor vehicles.

A small group of shooters can kill up to 500 birds a day, and many of the victims are not actually eaten. According to various accounts, some of the ‘surplus’ is buried in specially dug holes. In addition, numerous unretrieved birds die slowly from their gunshot wounds, out of sight of the guns.

In the final days of the Labour government, all cages for breeding pheasants were set to be abolished under a new Code of Practice. However, that plan was scrapped by the coalition’s new Defra Minister, Jim Paice, who introduced a Code that allowed the cages to remain – albeit in their so-called enriched form – which means they contain a small round log or pole for perching and a strip of green plastic for ‘privacy’.

Animal Aid is also calling for a ban on partridge breeding cages. These are metal boxes in which one male and one female are confined for their entire ‘productive’ lives. Partridge cages are correspondingly smaller and just as bleak as the pheasant units.

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Animal Aid is calling for a ban on the use of battery cages for pheasant and partridge production. Help our campaign by contacting your MP.

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