Around 40 million gamebirds (30 to 35 million pheasants and 5 to 10 million partridges) are reared and released each year in Great Britain. Gamebirds have traditionally been bred and reared using simple systems of husbandry, though increasingly more intensive methods are used.
Welfare issues identified in the breeding and rearing processes include:
- the extent and duration of confinement of semi-wild species, sometimes within systems offering a barren, restricting environment
- routine use of management devices, e.g. bits, spectacles and brailles
- management and stockmanship issues, including record keeping, training, flock health and welfare planning and development of best practice
Recommendations to improve the welfare of farmed gamebirds include:
- adoption of flock health and welfare plans, prepared in conjunction with a veterinary surgeon
- an end to the use of spectacles, and closer control of other management devices
- phasing out of barren cages for pheasants, alongside research into acceptable accommodation
- phasing out of barren cages for partridges, particularly for extended periods, alongside research into acceptable accommodation
- more research into the adaptive and support needs of birds when released
You can read more about the work of the Farm Animal Welfare Committee.