MPs put pressure on game bird laws

Over 30 MPs have signed up to a parliamentary motion putting pressure to keep a ban on battery cages for game birds.

An Early Day Motion put forward by Liberal Democrat MP for Torbay Adrian Sanders has received the backing of a number of prominent politicians such as Labour backbenchers Stephen Pound and Kerry McCarthy, Liberal Democrat deputy leader Simon Hughes, Conservative Peter Bottomley, Green MP Caroline Lucas and Sustainable Livestock Bill proposer Robert Flello.

The motion has come about after Farming Minister Jim Paice withdrew the new code of practice for game bird production, made under the Animal Welfare Act 2006. The effect of this decision will be to overturn a ban on battery cages for breeding pheasants, campaigners claimed.

The call by 33 MPs has received the backing of animal rights charities Animal Aid and Compassion in World Farming.

An Animal Aid spokesperson said: “The enriched cages do nothing to improve the miserable and bleak existence of the incarcerated birds. Typically, the cages have a green plastic ‘curtain’ set towards the back of the cage for ‘privacy’ and a piece of dowel suspended on two bricks for perching. Animal Aid has several times filmed the ‘enriched’ version and we can report that they are just as bleak and oppressive as the barren cage.”

‘Enriched’ cages for hens has also been roundly condemned in a joint statement made by animal welfare organisations involved in farm animal issues on both sides of the Atlantic.

The full statement, signed by Compassion in World Farming, the Humane Society of the United States, the World Society for the Protection of Animals and the RSPCA and others reads: “It is clear that such modified cages fail to properly meet the hens’ physical or behavioural needs. They provide an unacceptably restrictive amount of space per bird; severely restrict many important physical activities, including running, flying, and wing-flapping; and do not permit unrestrained perching and dustbathing. The severe restriction of the hens’ ability to exercise is likely to lead to frustration, bone weakness and osteoporosis – clear indicators of poor welfare.”

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