Farm Animal Welfare Council


FAWC News Release

13 November 2008

Farm Animal Welfare Council's council on the welfare of farmed gamebirds

The Farm Animal Welfare Council (FAWC) today publishes it Opinion on the Welfare of Farmed Gamebirds (PDF 95 KB) on its website.

Professor Christopher Wathes, Chairman of FAWC, said “This Opinion aims to advise Government, including the devolved administrations, about contemporary welfare issues facing farmed gamebirds.”

Approximately 40 million gamebirds (30 to 35 million pheasants and 5 to 10 million partridges) are reared and released each year in Great Britain.  Gamebirds have traditionally been bred and reared using simple systems of husbandry, though increasingly more intensive methods are used. 

“Welfare issues identified during our study of the breeding and rearing processes include:

  • The extent and duration of confinement of semi-wild species, sometimes within systems offering a barren, restricting environment;
  • Routine use of management devices, e.g. bits, spectacles and brailles; and
  • Management and stockmanship issues, including record keeping, training, Flock Health and Welfare Planning and development of best practice.”

“Recommendations are made to Government and others that are intended to improve the welfare of farmed gamebirds.  These include:

  • Adoption of Flock Health and Welfare Plans, prepared in conjunction with a veterinary surgeon;
  • An end to the use of spectacles, and closer control of other management devices;
  • Phasing out of barren cages for pheasants, alongside research into acceptable accommodation;
  • Phasing out of barren cages for partridges, particularly for extended periods, alongside research into acceptable accommodation; and
  • More research into the adaptive and support needs of birds when released.”

“Government is working with industry and others on a Code of Practice for the breeding and rearing of gamebirds and we hope that our conclusions will add to that process.”


Notes for Editors

  • The Farm Animal Welfare Council (FAWC) is an independent advisory body established by Government in 1979 to keep under review the welfare of farmed animals on agricultural land, at market, in transit and at place of slaughter; and to advise Ministers in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the devolved administrations in Scotland and Wales, of any legislative or other changes that may be necessary.  
  • Professor Christopher Wathes was appointed Chairman of FAWC in January 2005.  He holds the Chair of Animal Welfare at the Royal Veterinary College, University of London.
  • All FAWC members serve in a personal capacity and do not represent any organisation with which they may be associated.
  • Opinions represent a new form of advice reflecting changes within the structure of the Council and in how it presents its advice to Government on farm animal welfare issues.  An Opinion is a brief report outlining the major causes of concern for animal welfare and making recommendations for improvement within a restricted scope.  The aim is to be responsive to specific issues in a shorter timescale than that needed for the traditional FAWC report.
  • Copies of FAWC Opinions are available from the FAWC Website at the address below.  Media approaches should be routed through the Secretariat.

FAWC Secretariat
Area 5A, 9 Millbank,
c/o Nobel House,
17 Smith Square
London SW1P 3JR
Tel.: 020 7238 5016
Fax.: 020 7238 3169

Last modified 13 November 2008
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