A French court has ruled in favour of ferry companies which stopped carrying pheasant chicks for the pheasant shooting industry because of welfare concerns.

Brittany Ferries, P&O Ferries and DFDS Seaways stopped transporting the birds and fertilised eggs across the English Channel following an undercover investigation by the League Against Cruel Sports in 2015 into factory farms where some of the animals are born. However, the ban was challenged by two French game bird breeders, who provide at least 20 million birds for shoots in the UK.

The League and other animal welfare organisations welcomed the court decision and praised the ferry companies for defending their bans.

Chris Luffingham, Director of Campaigns at the League Against Cruel Sports, says:

“It is clear to the League and the public at large that Brittany Ferries, P&O Ferries and DFDS Seaways are acting with integrity in refusing to carry pheasant and partridge chicks for shooting. It is commendable that this position is not only being taken from a commercial perspective, but because it is the right thing to do. That decision has correctly been ratified by the courts.”

In the League’s investigation, adult breeding birds were found confined in wire-mesh cages, jumping up and down in a futile attempt to escape. Their beaks had been mutilated to prevent them attacking each other in the crowded, unnatural conditions.



Young pheasants and partridges are taken to Cherbourg or Calais for the ferry crossing to Portsmouth or Dover, before their journey exceeding 19 hours ends with being unloaded at an English shooting estate. Around 50% of the 35 million pheasants released into the British countryside each year start their life on factory farms abroad.

The lives of these birds will end with many hitting the ground suffering from painful wounds and injuries, having not being killed outright by the shot, only to be killed by having their necks broken or being hit over the head with a beater’s stick. Their carcasses are often buried, dumped or incinerated, the League adds.

Chris Luffingham continues:

“With over 69% of the public backing a ban on shooting birds for ‘sport’ it is clear to any objective observer that the embargoes on movement of animals for shooting has not only the backing of the League and other animal protection organisations, but the public at large. We recommend the pheasant breeders take notice of the public attitude to their sordid trade: pack up, it’s not wanted here.”

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For more information or interview requests please contact the League Against Cruel Sports Press Office on 01483 524250 (24hrs) or email [email protected]

The League Against Cruel Sports is Britain's leading charity that works to stop animals being persecuted, abused and killed for sport. The League was instrumental in helping bring about the landmark Hunting Act. We carry out investigations to expose law-breaking and cruelty to animals and campaign for stronger animal protection laws and penalties. We work to change attitudes and behaviour through education and manage sanctuaries to protect wildlife. Find out more about our work at league.org.uk. Registered charity in England and Wales (no.1095234) and Scotland (no.SC045533).