Bird flu found at ‘game bird’ farm investigated by Animal Aid in 2007

Posted on the 25th January 2017

In addition to the discovery of bird flu at a ‘game bird’ farm in Lancashire, which was the subject of undercover investigations by national campaign group, Animal Aid, in 2005 and 2007, the BBC has now reported that the presence of bird flu cannot be ruled out at a third premises in the vicinity.

The first discovery in the area was at Hy-Fly, in Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire, which is said to be the biggest game bird breeder in the country, producing 1.5m game bird eggs a year, 250,000 of which are pheasant eggs.1 The game farm was started by Raymond Holden in 1963 and, at the time of the first Animal Aid investigation, Holden was one of only six game farmers in the UK known to have adopted a battery cage system for pheasant rearing.

Animal Aid investigators filmed at Hy-Fly in 2005 and then in 2007 as part of a campaign exposing the cruelty of the raised laying cages in which pheasants and partridges used for breeding purposes are confined. Each pheasant cage contains one male and up to 10 females. Partridges are incarcerated in pairs in metal boxes.

Following the outbreak of bird flu in 2016, Animal Aid expressed concern regarding Defra’s advice to the game shooting industry. In a 14 December letter to the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA), the group raised questions over the biosecurity advice issued to the shooting industry and to game bird shooters, stating that:

‘The sport shooting of game birds conflicts with APHA’s advice on biosecurity, due to the increased risk of contamination between wild bird species, game birds and (potentially) other captive birds.

‘The risk arises from the movement of vehicles, people and the game birds themselves on the day of a shoot; the collection of game bird carcasses (which will have blood and other fluids on them) by gun dogs and their owners; the removal of those carcasses to other areas of the country; and the potential of contamination of other birds from people who have been shooting.’

On the 26 January (and just four days before the end of the pheasant shooting season), Animal Aid finally received a response from APHA, which contained the following: ‘Advice on rearing game birds and shooting whilst the Prevention Zone is in force … has been put together by seven leading countryside and shooting organisations (BASC, CA, CLA, GFA, GWCT, NGO and SGA2) and endorsed by Defra, the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland governments.’

Says Campaign Manager, Fiona Pereira:

‘Animal Aid has been shocked, but not surprised, that government advice to the shooting industry regarding bird flu appears at odds with that given to other bird farmers. However, the key element that is never highlighted is the tremendous suffering that the birds endure whether they are killed as part of the meat industry, the game bird industry or ‘humanely culled’ as a result of an outbreak of bird flu.’

Notes to Editors

  • For further information, contact Fiona Pereira on 01732 364546.
  • Watch the video of the 2007 undercover investigation below and read the accompanying press release.
  • Watch the 2005 film below.
  • This post was updated on 31 Jan 2017


  2. British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC), Countryside Alliance (CA), Country Land and Business Association (CLA), Game Farmers Association (GFA), National Gamekeepers Organisation (NGO), Scottish Gamekeepers Association (SGA)

Video taken in 2007

Assault and Battery

Filmed in 2005

Order a stop shooting action pack

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