Shocking new footage passed onto the HSA reveals extreme cruelty and an alarming lack of biosecurity at a UK game farm.
Filmed between June and August 2022, the video shows row upon row of tiny, barren wire cages at Shelford Pheasantries, based near Newark-On-Trent. In total there are 968 cages, each housing two partridges. This group of almost two thousand birds spend their lives suffering in these awful conditions, their feet never touching the ground, all so that their offspring will be released into the countryside and shot.
Many birds were observed with feather loss caused by the other bird in the cage as the highly unnatural environment means there is nowhere to escape.
The conditions at the farm even fail to comply with DEFRA’s own Code of Practice for the Gamebirds Reared for Sporting Purposes, an extremely weak code that permits most abuse on game farms.
Amid a bird flu epidemic that is having a devastating impact on both captive and wild birds, including seabird colonies, the complete disregard for any biosecurity was also plain to see.
Birds who died at the farm were dumped in piles and their bodies burnt; an illegal act that hugely increases the risk of disease spreading. Their charred remains were just left out in the open where wild birds and other wildlife routinely came into contact with them. As ‘gamebirds’ are classified as livestock whilst in farms, they are covered by the ban on burying and burning of fallen stock.
Shockingly but unsurprisingly, this is not the first time the HSA has exposed this at a game farm. In 2017, we released footage of workers at Knowle Game Farm burning the dead bodies of birds at their site in Kent.
The dirty water made available to the partridges at Shelford Pheasantries was open and easily accessible to wild birds. Faeces from the birds simply fell through the wire mesh and accumulated in large, rotting heaps under the cages, again easily accessible to any wild animal.
A HSA spokesperson commented:
“With bird flu causing havoc throughout the UK, it’s game farms such as Shelford Pheasantries that are providing the perfect breeding grounds for this disease. Behind the shooting industry’s so-called ‘conservation’ propaganda lies a grim underbelly: factory farming.”
NB: Investigators visiting the site used a DEFRA-approved disinfectant before and after entering the farm.