Animal Aid

New Evidence Shows Why 'Enriched' Game Bird Cages Must Be Banned

Posted 6 July 2010

The new Hunting and Shooting Minister, Jim Paice, has withdrawn a new Code of Practice for 'game bird' production that would have outlawed battery cages for breeding pheasants. It has been replaced by a watered down version of the Code, which will effectively allow the cages to stay – albeit in their so-called ‘enriched’ form.

According to an article in The Independent on 5 July, Mr Paice’s decision to replace the Code followed concerted lobbying by pro-shooting groups.

Animal Aid has campaigned for a total ban on the battery (raised laying) cages since 2004, when we first exposed the cages via national television.

Our latest undercover evidence shows that the ‘enriched’ cages do nothing to improve the miserable and bleak existence of the incarcerated birds. Several of the birds were clearly suffering feather loss. Many had large, cumbersome ‘bits’ fitted to their beaks – designed to limit the damage caused to each other by stress-related aggression.

Slideshow of pictures taken during our latest undercover investigation into 'enriched' cages

Action

Please write to your MP, directing him or her to the evidence on our website, and register your disgust with Mr Paice’s proposal to permit ‘enriched’ battery cages for breeding game birds. Ask your MP to demand a total ban on battery (or raised laying) cages for game birds.

Background

In the final weeks of the Labour Government, a new Code of Practice for ‘game bird’ production (made under the Animal Welfare Act 2006) was issued. This effectively outlawed the use of battery (raised laying) cages for breeding pheasants. The Code was the product of years of evidence-gathering and public consultation, and the ban even had the support of Britain’s leading pro-shooting lobby group, the British Association for Shooting and Conservation. BASC came out publicly against the oppressive contraptions after they were first exposed, via national television, by Animal Aid, in November 2004. We have campaigned unrelentingly for them to be outlawed ever since.

Hundreds of thousands of pheasants and partridges are incarcerated for the whole of their productive lives (around two years) in battery cages. Pheasants are confined in groups of around eight females and one male. Our covert filming reveals that the birds suffer a high incidence of emaciation, feather-loss and back and head wounds. Many of the pheasants lunge repeatedly at their cage roofs in a forlorn attempt to escape. The resulting damage to their heads is known as ‘scalping’.

The former Code of Practice also outlawed so-called enriched cages, which, typically, have a green plastic ‘curtain’ set towards the back of the cage for privacy and a piece of dowel suspended on two bricks for perching. Animal Aid has several times filmed the ‘enriched’ version and we can report that they are just as bleak and oppressive.

Animal Aid has written to all MPs asking them to register their opposition to any move that would legitimise the cages. We also sent them a copy of our new booklet, The Trouble With Shooting.

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