Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Cage fighting

There's a right row brewing between BASC and the other shooting organisations, and no mistake.

It's all over the consultation on DEFRA's draft Code of Practice for the Welfare of Game Birds.

The GFA, NGO, GWCT, CLA, CA and NFU are all backing 'Option 2' which calls for all 'raised units' to be enriched, and would ban barren cages.

BASC is backing 'Option 3' of banning cages full stop - placing it in the same camp as rabid anti-shooting organisations Animal Aid and the League Against Cruel Sports.

It's not the first time I've seen BASC taking a counter-intuitive line like this. I do wonder whether they have some vision of shooting's longer-term future that they haven't got round to sharing with the rest of us?

UPDATE: There's a heated discussion going on at the Pigeon Watch forums here...


vicky said...

Hmmmmm. Can cages ever be justified? I guess most organisations are trying to ensure traditional partridge boxes aren't lost, but are these boxes the best or only way to rear partridge? I can see where BASC are coming from, maybe they are more public savvy than the rest- even enriched laying cages for egg producing hens have been rejected by the public after all. This is a difficult question with perhaps no easy answer.

Meconopsis said...

Traditional pair boxes for partridges are not the problem. The new mass cages used by the big 5 gamefarms in the UK are though. No genuine Gamekeeper would ever use these death cages. Enriched ha what with ?

Ok Mr Nodder and Co will complain that the French and Danes will export eggs to the UK far cheaper than our Gamefarmers can produce but do we realy want to make puffs of feathers out of their poor flying gamebirds ?

If we still want to shoot in 20 years time practices like these must be stamped out from within the industry.

James Marchington said...

Well there's got to be wire somewhere or the birds will wander off - the discussion has to be about the area per bird, and the level of enrichment.

Apparently partridges do better in raised units - they're less prone to disease than birds kept on the ground, or so I'm told by people in the game farming business. They also tell me that the birds are less stressed in raised cages (until some anti looms over them with a video camera!). Perhaps its a case of 'they would say that wouldn't they'.

Of course the antis are deliberately confusing the issue, but these are the laying birds we're talking about - birds aren't 'reared' in these sort of units; the layers are kept in them during the laying period.

I can see where BASC are coming from - the word 'cage' creates the wrong impression. It's just strange to see them at odds with the other organisations like this, and it must send a confused message to DEFRA and the general public.

James Marchington said...

Interesting points Andy, and I suspect you're right about shooting 20 years from now.

If that's the case, it would be good if BASC could have got the other organisations on side before crunch time on the consultation.

Meconopsis said...

birds aren't 'reared' in these sort of units. Arnt they ? maybe you should go to a gamefarm for a magazine artical.Somewhere in Lancashire without an appointment.

James Marchington said...

I've been there - it's an impressive operation. Fair do's to the guy, the units he showed me round were first class, with birds in tip-top condition. He completely fails to grasp the need to present the right image to the public though. There's a combative attitude of 'they're stupid and don't understand'. Not the way to win friends and influence people.

Meconopsis said...

I used to rear in excess of 7,000 Redlegs and have seen the methods involved re Egg production. That is why I will never shoot a driven bird ever again.

DNA tests done on French and Danish birds have shown Chucker blood. Point of fact it is illegal to release these crosses.

Surely the Gamebird Association has picked up this story and sell a premium product ?

BASC communications said...

James, there is nothing counter-intuitive about opposing the use of extremely intensive methods of egg production for pheasants. They are bad for the birds' welfare and threaten the image and future of shooting. BASC's stance has been consistent for five years, and has been consistently opposed by a number of other organisations, notably the Game Farmers' Association. It's a wee bit naughty of you to suggest we may have some hidden agenda or secret vision of the future of game shooting. There is nothing but our aim of securing a sound and sustainable future for shooting. The arguments for producing thousands of eggs from laying stock kept in cages will not wash with the public or politicians. One Conservative back bencher told us last week that the issue is a "no brainer". Basc's views is set out in full on our website www.basc.org.uk


Simon Clarke

Vicky said...

Yet again we have a situation where hard facts and science are needed to help make the decision, not just emotion. I see no reason pheasant eggs can't be obtained in the way free range hen eggs are, at worst, the way barn eggs are.If raised cages have less disease is this because the birds are too densley stocked when on the ground? Is a raised wire floor the answer or lower stocking density? Enriched cages may be acceptable but they are not ideal and we have to accept that we don't shoot just to feed ourselves. It IS a leisure activity for many, if that must cost more to ensure maximum gamerbird welfare AND the future of raised game shooting then...so be it. Guns may have to accept 250 bird days for old the price of 500 or whatever, but if the alernative is the animal rights nutters get shooting banned, like they did foxhunting, by putting about half truths and lies...well, that'll be a terrible day. How do we cope with cheap imports? Ban them. Ban all import of game eggs, chicks and poults not raised to UK standards.
I understand the traditional partridge box is a different thing. Would option 3 ban this or not? If not, I go wih BASC.

James Marchington said...

Vicky, you're right, but... it's the emotional argument that will win the day. Pictures of birds/animals apparently suffering are worth a thousand expert veterinary reports when it comes to winning votes.

vicky said...

And the emotional argument is why BASC are voting for a total cage ban- it's the only thing 'the public' will accept.