Please write to your MP and ask him or her to sign Early Day Motion (EDM) 507, which calls for a ban on the use of all battery cages for ‘game birds’. A decision on their future will soon be taken, so please write as soon as possible.
The EDM has been tabled following the recent publication of a draft Code of Practice on the Welfare of Game Birds Reared for Sporting Purposes, which was drawn up by a Working Group established under the 2006 Animal Welfare Act. The Draft Code left open the issue of the cages, by offering three options: to allow their continued use; to allow only ‘enriched’ cages; or to ban the cages, enriched or otherwise. DEFRA Minister Jim Fitzpatrick will soon make a final decision on the future of the cages – and we are calling on all MPs to support the campaign for an outright ban. The RSPCA and even the pro-shoot British Association for Shooting and Conservation also support a ban on the cages.
Made of wire mesh and metal sheeting, the cages expose the birds to the elements all year round. Pheasants are typically confined in groups of eight females and one male. Partridges are held in breeding pairs in metal boxes that are correspondingly smaller and just as bleak as the pheasant units. Covert filming undertaken by Animal Aid demonstrates 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’.
Animal Aid, which first exposed the existence of the cages in 2004, has gathered filmed evidence of ‘enriched’ cages which demonstrates that they are essentially as bleak and wretched for the birds as the un-enriched version.
Please ask your MP to sign EDM 507 and, if possible, ask him or her to write to Mr Fitzpatrick stating why they support the EDM.
More information on the issue of battery cages can be read in our report entitled Assault and Battery. A film of our investigation, under the same name, is available on Animal Aid’s website or via our office on DVD.