Latest undercover game farm investigation reveals suffering

Posted on the 26th April 2021

Animal Aid’s latest undercover investigation into the conditions at game farms across the UK has revealed even more suffering and breaches of welfare legislation.

At the start of April, our investigation team photographed and filmed pheasants, who are held for breeding purposes, at a farm in West Sussex. This is the first time we had visited this farm, and sadly, the conditions at this establishment mirrored those at other farms we have investigated in the past.

We found miserable birds, confined in barren cages – in clear breach of the regulations laid out in the Code of Practice for the Welfare of Gamebirds Reared for Sporting Purposes, which states:

Barren raised cages for breeding pheasants and small barren cages for breeding partridges should not be used. All laying systems used for the housing of birds should be designed and managed to ensure the welfare of the birds. Any system should be appropriately enriched.

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Further video clips can be viewed here and here.

Additionally, some of the birds had been fitted with oppressive shrouds over their beaks to prevent them from pecking and hurting one another – which is a sign of how stressful they find their confinement. One bird also appeared to be suffering from a condition called Mycoplasma (or ‘bulgy eye’) with sore eyes and respiratory issues. Again, this is in breach of the Code – as well as the Animal Welfare Act which stipulates that all animals should be ‘protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease.’

We have not named the farm because we have reported it to the relevant government department and local authority, who have assured us that the matter will be investigated.

Says Fiona Pereira, Campaign Manager at Animal Aid:

‘It seems like every time we investigate a game farm, we are met with evidence of these poor breeding birds suffering and being held in conditions that do not meet even the most basic welfare standards.

Confining wild birds in barren cages is unspeakably cruel, and the suffering that they endure just so that people can shoot their offspring for “sport” is indefensible.

In addition, we have an industry that is mostly untouched by government guidelines or inspections, allowing them to operate as they please, which they do – at the expense of the birds.

We call on the government to take a stand. Ban these cruel battery cages once and for all.’

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