Game birds such as pheasant and partridge are farmed birds, bred to be shot for sport. This is a fact that many do not realise. On top of that, as birds designated for ‘game’ shooting they are not afforded even the basic level of protection given to other farmed birds.

Britain is a nation of animal lovers. Most of us value animals, both pets and wildlife, and the value they bring to our lives has rarely been as evident as it has the past 12 months.

For an animal loving nation however, we haven’t always been consistent in how we treat different species. Drawing perhaps the shortest straw of all in this are ‘game’ birds.

All game birds lead a life filled with cruelty but this is especially true for breeding pairs, who spend the majority of their lives in small cages often with no meaningful stimulation. This is why the League is calling on governments in all four home nations to ban the practice of caged breeding for game birds.

According to Defra, almost all game bird breeding sites utilise small wire mesh cages, often with as little space as an A4 sheet of paper per bird – in essence factory farming. Sites can produce game birds on a scale that is likely to shock many. Bettws Hall, in Wales, is the largest game bird producer in Europe accounting for up to 800,000 eggs a week during peak season.

Breeding cage for game bird shooting

Whilst guidance is issued by the game bird industry aimed at limiting cruelty it clearly does not go far enough and investigations by Animal Aid show that often it is not followed anyway. Cages are supposed to be ‘enriched’ however even when this guidance is followed this ‘enrichment’ can often be a small section of AstroTurf or a bare log. When breeding birds are locked in these cages for much of their life this isn’t anywhere near good enough.

The evidence is clear: Whether barren, or enriched, caged breeding is cruel and causes animals to suffer.

The game bird industry has no interest in improving animal welfare standards in cages, that much is obvious. So it is now evident that governments in Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland & England must ban the use of Cages for the breeding of game birds.

Over the next few months, this is an issue that will be talked about a lot, 2021 has the potential to be the year we start to make real progress in ending caged cruelty for game birds. Keep checking our website and social media channels to hear more on this campaign.