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Blow to Yorkshire shooting estates

[Wednesday 17 March 2010]

London-based officials at the environment department Defra have struck a major blow against North Yorkshire’s important game-shooting industry by introducing new cage sizes for the rearing of baby pheasants and other birds.

By applying the most stringent “animal welfare” standards in Europe, falsely comparing such birds to battery chickens, they will force shoot owners to import most of their stock from France at great expense.

But some shooting experts believe that the officials who came up with these measurements – a minimum of a square metre per pheasant and slightly less for partridges – have totally misunderstood the reason for breeding game birds in cages.

One expert told Daelnet: “”These chicks are kept in cages when they are small not to make them grow faster like battery hens but to protect them from predators. Foxes, stoats, crows and magpies will all kill game chicks – they are a gamekeeper’s nightmare.

“As soon as the birds are big enough to look after themselves, they are allowed to run wild.”

Shooting estates provide hundreds of vital jobs in sparsely populated districts of North Yorkshire where there little other work. Hotels and restaurants benefit from shoot guests and there is a growing demand for pheasant as meat, being very low in fat and cholesterol.

Feedback received on this subject:

Oh come on! Surely you realise that a 25 year old political science graduate working in an office in London knows more about everything than someone who's been doing the job all their life!

Sarah Godley Surrey

Feedback received on this subject:

This so-called expert is obviously out of touch with reality and farming. They state; "[pheasants are] not [kept in cages] to make them grow faster like battery hens". Since when were battery chickens kept in cages to make them grow? They are used for the production of eggs, not their meat like their broiler counterparts who are reared in sheds.

Personally, I welcome this step and hope that it is one step closer to the stopping of game shooting. In this day and age, one should not be going out and killing animals for one's own entertainment.

Anonymous Bedale

Feedback received on this subject:

Let's be quite clear here.

It was BASC (British Association for Shooting and Conservation) who, unilaterally, were the first to say that shooters should not use birds that were intensively reared, after undercover video was taken by the animal rights group Animal Aid. This was because they were not prepared to defend the way birds were rared after this became public. This seriously upset other shooting interests. BASC called for higher standards.

As for poults coming in from France, it was revealed that 50% came from France as fallout from the avian flu panic.

So that "quintessentially English" bird, flying freely and innocently over the dales into the line of guns, made its first teetering flight with 35 companions in a plastic box in the belly of a cargo jet bound for Stanstead.

The game farmers are trying to play the "outsider" ploy, anti-Londoners,etc... I quote: "London-based officials at the environment department Defra have struck a major blow against North Yorkshire’s important game-shooting industry".

There are lots of Londoners who shoot. Prince Philip, Prince Charles, and Princes William and Harry. Not to mention David Cameron and William Hague. I am sure Cameron will only shoot at high welfare English birds now - the rumour is that on the Conservative Party website he is calling for high welfare English birds to be sprayed with fluorescent orange dye so they can be distinguished from inferior EU immigrants from France.

Theo H Lifton, Devon

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