November 10, 2015
The Code of Practice for the Welfare of Gamebirds Reared for Sporting Purposes was introduced by the Welsh Government on 1st January 2011. The RSPCA was very disappointed that the Government did not advise against ‘enriched’ cages to breed game birds particularly given that the Farm Animal Welfare Council* – the official advisory body to the UK & devolved administrations – stated that they were unlikely to meet the birds’ needs.
Gamebirds are semi-wild, and using outdoor pens and paddocks for small numbers of birds is preferable to restricting them in cages. The RSPCA believes further research would provide scientific evidence in order to recommend the best welfare-based rearing system, as we accept that currently there is very little evidence on the issue.
In April 2017, Natural Resources Wales conducted a call for evidence from interested parties on the use of firearms on NRW managed land after concerns were raised about the impact on animal welfare of pheasant shooting. RSPCA Cymru submitted evidence outlining our concerns about the poor welfare standards of intensively reared game birds and that the codes of practice fall short of what is required to protect the welfare of game birds. Following the call for evidence, in April 2018 NRW conducted a formal review of their policy on the use of firearms and shooting activity on land managed by them and RSPCA Cymru submitted a response outlining our earlier concerns on welfare.