Opinion - Game Birds

I appreciate your concerns on this issue, and agree that maintaining high standards of animal welfare is an important issue. I am proud to support a UK Government that has made bolstering our already strong animal welfare protections one of its key priorities.

Here in Scotland, animal welfare is for the most part a devolved issue, and so it would be for the Scottish Parliament in Holyrood to consider and pass legislation relating to the welfare of pheasants, partridges, and other gamebirds. I am unaware of any plans on the part of the Scottish Government to change the law as it stands.

I am, however, pleased to say that the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006 ensures that, like in the rest of the United Kingdom, gamebirds in Scotland must not be caused any unnecessary suffering.

The UK Government, Scottish Government, and Welsh Government have all also put in place a Code of Practice for the Welfare of Gamebirds Reared for Sporting Purposes, which is based on research carried out by the Farm Animal Welfare Council, advised by a working group that included animal welfare organisations.

The Code of Practice ensures that these birds must have an appropriate environment, including adequate heating, lighting, shelter, ventilation, and resting areas; ready access to fresh water and an appropriate diet; appropriate space and facilities to ensure the avoidance of stress; company of their own kind; and adequate protection from pain, suffering, injury, or disease, with a rapid response should any of those things occur. Stock-keepers who fail to follow it could be found to have committed an offence.