Ban the cage!

Posted on the 18th July 2018

Animal Aid is calling for a complete ban on raised laying cages used to incarcerate breeding birds used by the shooting industry.

Of course, we believe that shooting should be banned completely. But until then, a ban on the use of cages would be a huge step forward. It would spare birds from the horror of being caged in these units, and would seriously limit the number of birds who could be bred for shooting.

Animal Aid’s most recent investigation revisited farms, where we had previously seen cruelty and neglect and breaches of animal welfare laws. We had, of course, reported this to the relevant authorities. On our latest visit, we again found breaches, indicating that nothing short of a complete ban on the cages is likely to make any difference.

Our ongoing investigations at these farms have revealed stressed and injured birds, some of whom were sharing cages with the decaying corpses of other birds, who appeared to have been dead for some time. The cages prevent birds from engaging in their most basic natural behaviour – to fly freely.

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Scale of the issue

The vast majority of birds shot in Britain for so-called ‘sport’ are factory-farmed pheasants. An estimated 50 million pheasants and partridges are produced in this way every year.

Patridges desperate to escape the confines of the cage
Partridges desperate to escape the confines of the cage

Highly automated processes are used in order to minimise human intervention. Our investigations have found the remains of dead birds in cages showing signs of long-term decomposition, despite regulations stating that cages should be checked at least once a day. Even when dead birds are removed from the cages, they are often left on top of cages to rot.

Body of a bird showing signs of decomposition
Body of a bird showing signs of decomposition

History

Animal Aid has been campaigning for an end to the use of ‘game bird’ cages for over a decade. In 2010, a ban was just weeks away from being introduced when the new coalition government ruled that cages could remain, as long as they were ‘enriched’.

Over the last two years, Animal Aid has used covert cameras to capture overwhelming evidence to demonstrate that enrichment is severely lacking at some large game bird farms. Most cages we examined didn’t have the very basic enrichment required by current regulations. Our evidence also showed that the birds have been subjected to extremes of temperature ranging from -4.9 °C to +41.2 °C.

Being confined in cages means that the birds suffer from stress, and are therefore fitted with various unpleasant devices such as masks and clips. We also found feather loss and head wounds caused by the birds lunging repeatedly at the cage roof in a futile attempt to escape. The resulting damage is known as ‘scalping’.

Pheasant showing signs of feather loss, wearing a mask
Pheasant showing signs of feather loss, wearing a mask

Please donate today and help us continue with our vital undercover exposé work to stop the hidden suffering of animals.

Isobel Hutchinson
Director
Animal Aid

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