"“We have lent a huge amount of money to the U.S. Of course we are concerned about the safety of our assets. To be honest, I am definitely a little worried.” "

Chinese premier Wen Jiabao 12th March 2009

""We have a financial system that is run by private shareholders, managed by private institutions, and we'd like to do our best to preserve that system."

Timothy Geithner US Secretary of the Treasury, previously President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.1/3/2009

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Moves to impose stricter controls on rearing captive game birds in the UK.

The Farm Animal Welfare Council (FAWC) have published their opinion (17 page pdf) on "The Welfare of Farmed Gamebirds ". This follows on from a DEFRA report after Newcastle disease broke out in farmed pheasants in 2005 which took 5 days to produce.

A Code of Practice for the Welfare of Gamebirds is in preparation which follows on from that currently in operation designed by the The Game Farmers Association (GFA) which is a trade organisation dedicated to the production of quality game birds for the UK shooting industry -the FAWC is contributing to the working group on these deliberations. The revised Defra Code of Practice on the Welfare of Farmed Gamebirds is expected to be published in 2009.

The FAWC report says that "There is little evidence of industry audit of compliance with industry Codes of Practice. "

The scale of the business in rearing pheasants and red-legged partridge ( a non - native species - the native Grey Partridge is on the RSPB Red list of species needing urgent action to address population decline) to supply the needs of people who want to (legitimately and legally) kill them for entertainment is remarkable.

Approximately 40 million gamebirds (30 to 35 million pheasants and 5 to 10 million partridges) are estimated to be released each year in Great Britain for shooting (the report does not cover reared quail, grouse or ducks ). The FAWC say that about half the pheasants reared and up to 90% of partridges are imported into Great Britain. These imports are mostly as hatching eggs, with a lesser number as day-old chicks from France.

Day-old pheasants are placed for rearing on about 400 farms in Great Britain for up to 7 weeks, prior to sale and release. Up to another 2,500 smaller premises with gamekeepers rear birds for their own estate. It is estimated that there are up to 7,000 shoots registered to release pheasants. Furthermore, there are up to 1,500 premises rearing partridges and 3,000 releasing them.

There is little information about survival of birds bred prior to shooting or the fate of those who escape the "sportsmen". It is said that some 2 Mn birds survive until the following spring.

Current legislation covering the business of rearing birds to shoot

European Directive 98/58/EC lays down minimum standards for the protection of animals bred or kept for farming purposes. Article 1(2) (b) states this Directive shall not apply to "animals intended for use in competitions, shows, cultural or sporting events or activities". This is claimed to exclude gamebirds destined for shoots from the protection of the Directive - even though they are kept under ostensibly farmed conditions on agricultural land.

In the UK this Directive is translated into domestic legislation as the Welfare of Farmed Animals (England) Regulations 2007 (with similar legislation in Scotland and Wales) in which a ‘farmed animal’ means an animal bred or kept for the production of food, wool or skin, or other farming purposes, but not including "an animal whilst at, or solely intended for use in, a competition, show or cultural or sporting event or activity."

The Animal Welfare Act 2006 (and similar legislation in Scotland) defines an ‘animal’ as a vertebrate other than a human and a ‘protected animal’ as one commonly domesticated in the British Isles, one under human control, whether on a permanent or temporary basis, or one not living in a wild state.

This should give farmed gamebirds protected animal status when they are under human control, even if they are not ‘farmed animals’ under the law. The lack of clarity in the law does not ever appear to have been tested at law.

Paradoxically gamebirds whilst in transit on journeys of more than 65 km is covered by the Welfare of Animals (Transport) (England) Order 2006 (and similar legislation in Scotland and Wales).

The Game Act of 1831 still applies in England and Wales - Scotland has different but essentially the same legislation which combine to impose close seasons for shooting.

A game licence is required, under the 1831 Act, in order to hunt game species. The British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) suggested in 2005 that only around 40,000 guns (of the claimed 450,000 participants ) bother to buy a licence as the police rarely prosecute on a failure to have a licence alone.

Joan Ruddock, junior environment minister, announced in July 2007 changes to the Game Act the £7 Game licences will no longer be needed to shoot or sell pheasants and other game and there will be no restrictions on selling game birds and venison all year round - changes that came into effect on August 1st that year. Lord Rooker, the rural affairs minister, said: "Many of the laws surrounding game licensing are outdated and irrelevant. We don't need laws that were originally intended to stop peasants killing pheasants."

David Fursdon, the Country Landowners Association President, said: "The removal of these outdated laws shows that the Government takes both shooting and the game industry seriously, and that the announcement takes place at the CLA Game Fair highlights the significance of the announcement to all people interested in country sports. "

Given the low level of observation of the law the fee of £6 (+£1 admin fee) produced an income of £251,884 in 2006, whereas its administrative costs amounted to £307,732. Game fishermen continue to pay a licence fee of £61.25 and coarse fisherman £22.25.

Economics and costs of the gamebird industry in the UK

As many as 70,000 jobs are said to depend on the game shooting industry and shooting is quoted as being worth £1.6 billion to the UK economy which involves 480,000 people who entertain themselves by shooting live quarry (research commissioned by the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC), the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) and the
Countryside Alliance). It is estimated that there are up to 7,000 shoots are registered to release pheasants and 3,000 for partridges.

Information supplied by the industry to FAWC that day-old chicks reared in Britain cost between 80 and 100 p each (but as little as 40 p each for French imports). Poults reared to 7 or 8 weeks of age are sold to shoots between £2.50 - £4.00. Prices have risen in the 2008 season in response to significant increases in feed prices.

Shot birds may be worth as little as 50 p each to the shoot for meat - although many shoots simply bury the shot birds as the costs of packing / distribution etc., cannot be covered by the price the food industry will pay for what is a very limited market for game.

New EU Food Hygiene Regulations came into into force on 1 January 2006. The Regulations cover the supply and handling of game meat and require that anyone supplying game to a registered game dealer will have had to undertake the necessary training to meet competent person status.

Meat Hygiene Service (MHS)data puts the total farmed game processed between July 2004 and June 2005 at 1.6 million units - this includes ALL game species including rabbits / hares .

A day's shooting can cost the "sportsman" between £25 and £40 per bird shot, although such prices vary widely. The cost of a day’s shooting varies between £100/gun for a smaller shoot,
to £1000s/gun on a larger shoot.

Welfare concerns in breeding gamebirds in the UK

FAWC identified a number of potential and actual welfare problems associated with the intensification of gamebird breeding and rearing in Great Britain.

Most of the welfare concerns relate to selection and sourcing of breeding stock, housing systems, confinement, transport, stockmanship and the use of various management devices and procedures, including:

1. Confinement of semi-wild species, either in open pens offering birds a challenging nvironment, exposed to adverse weather, or various cage systems offering a barren environment, restricting space and potentially the expression of normal behaviour;

2. Use of management devices, including bits, spectacles, and brailles;

Bit – a strip of hard material, usually plastic, fitted round the upper mandible, preventing the beak from closing.
Bumpa-bit – a plastic bit with an additional loop of plastic in front of the upper mandible.
Spectacles – flaps of plastic clipped to the top of the beak restricting forward vision.
Braille – Loop of canvas or similar material twisted into a figure-of-eight round the wing, restricting its full extension and, thus, flight.

3. Beak trimming instead of, or as well as, bitting;

4. Stockmanship, including training, record keeping, seeking of prompt vet-erinary advice and development of best practice;

5. Transport of day-old or rearing birds in vehicles, crates or other receptacles that may not be suitable;

6. Availability of licensed medicines to treat or prevent disease;

7. General biosecurity; and adaptation/acclimatisation of birds to outdoor conditions prior to and during release.

FAWC Recommendations

The report recommendations cover Paras 58 - 73 Including Banning beak trimming, use of Spectacles and research is required into the effects of bumpa-bits on the welfare and health of pheasants. Brailles for pheasants should only be used in open pens, where there is strong evidence that otherwise birds would be lost from these pens.

Barren raised cages for pheasants should not be used. If industry does not phase out barren cages then Government should act to ban them within five years from the publication of this Opinion.

Small, barren cages for breeding partridges should not be used, particularly to house birds continuously for three years.

Pics : November 4th was the first day of the "hunting" season Cyprus - the weekend saw thousands of "hunters" with their dogs dressed like war fighters shoot anything that moved. This loathsome fool was happy to swagger about to display his trophy and be photgraphed.

Macaulay said "the Puritans banned bear baiting, not because it pained the bear but because it gacve pleasure to the spectators". Anyone who kills semi-domesticated animals for "sport" is beneath contempt - one might as well justify abortion because it provides an income for the medical profession as justify shooting on the basis that it suports a wide rural industry to support the slaughter.

See also for more details - Friday, May 16, 2008 Pheasant Shooting - getting ready for the annual slaughter

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