Gamefarmers are being urged to find out the origins of their gamebird eggs. The call comes as the Scottish Government and the Welsh Assembly Government recently launched their own individual consultations on the Draft Code of Practice on the Welfare of Gamebirds Reared for Sporting Purposes.

Like DEFRA’s draft English code, one of the most contentious areas of the Scottish and Welsh codes is the issue of raised laying cages for producing gamebird eggs. Rather than taking a definitive stance on whether or not to ban their use, the Scottish Government and the Welsh Assembly Government are, in common with DEFRA, also seeking the the public’s view on three options: (1) retaining the status quo; (2) requiring all raised units to be enriched and banning barren cages; or (3) banning cages altogether. Some fear the latter option would include a ban on traditional partridge boxes, though BASC argues it won’t.

As Shooting Times went to press, a total of 147 MPs had signed Early Day Motion No 507, which calls for an outright ban on the cages in England.

Though the code is not legally binding, failure to follow it could be relied on to establish liability for an offence under the 2006 Animal Welfare Act.

Some gamefarmers feel the consultation only applies to larger operations using raised laying cages, however. Nigel McMullan of Angus Game Plus, near Montrose, Angus, rears his 20,000 gamebirds on grass. He told Shooting Times: “Our rearing methods are in keeping with DEFRA’s draft code, so I have not rushed to look at the consultation document. After the shooting season has finished, I will be taking a proper look, but I do not think this affects small-scale gamebird rearers like me.”

The rest of this article appears in 27th January issue of Shooting Times.

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