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Gamebird code revised

Gamefarmers and shooting groups have welcomed England’s revised Code of Practice for the Welfare of Gamebirds Reared for Sporting Purposes, published by DEFRA last week. Farming minister Jim Paice MP withdrew the earlier code on the grounds that it was not based on “sound evidence.” Key amendments to the code agreed by the reconvened working group include: the removal of the prohibition on mixing laying birds; reducing the inspection regime for birds kept outside the breeding and rearing period from twice a day to once a day; allowing the use of enriched laying units without specifying actual sizes; and clarifying that the location of release pens should aim to “minimise” losses to predators and from traffic, rather than “eliminate” them. It is expected to be approved and will come into force after 40 days. Gamebird rearing codes for Wales and Scotland are in preparation following a period of public consultation. The draft codes for the two nations follow closely the text now agreed for England. Final decisions in Cardiff and Edinburgh are expected later this year. To view the new code, visit