So, DEFRA has released its Code of Practice for the Welfare of Gamebirds Reared for Sporting Purposes, which is laid before Parliament and will sit for 40 days before coming into effect (not counting days off for the election, recess, etc). Even then it's not 'law' as such - but it will be used as a stick to beat game farms who don't follow the new rules.
Basically, BASC won. They got the wording they wanted - indeed it looks like they wrote most of it - and their release today 'welcomes' the new code with its clauses setting out the minimum space per bird in laying cages. They are at pains to point out that "Traditional pheasant laying pens, partridge pair boxes or raised cages can continue to be used if they provide at least the specified minimum spaces per bird."
So all is wonderful, no? No. A consortium of other organisations are kicking up one hell of a fuss, because they didn't get their way. "Last Minute Changes Make Gamebird Code an Unworkable Mess" screams the Game Farmers' Association, complaining that changes had been made "in secret" (in collusion with BASC?). The GFA proceeds to attack the new code phrase by phrase, with chairman Jonathan Crow predicting "chaos for the industry".
The National Gamekeepers' Organisation, Countryside Alliance and Country Landowners Association swiftly followed with their condemnations of the new draft. (Slightly slow off the mark, the GWCT have now come out against the new code too, calling it a "missed opportunity".)
And, hilariously, both LACS and Animal Aid put out triumphant press releases claiming a victory for animal rights. Animal Aid are even suggesting it was all their own work!
Meanwhile, in a field in Shootingshire, a pheasant said: "No comment. Now clear off, I've got these hens to see to."