Footage given to the Hunt Saboteurs Association (HSA) by independent investigators reveals shocking cruelty at Bonson Wood Game Farm near Bridgewater, Somerset. Activists visited the site on numerous occasions over the summer. Pheasants at the farm, who were used for breeding, were confined to tiny wire cages and fitted with plastic devices known as ‘bits’ to prevent them from pecking at each other due to the extreme stress of life in a cage. Female birds, unable to escape the male in their cage, had their back feathers ripped out due to repetitive mating. The farm’s answer to this was to fit ‘saddles’ to the birds’ backs in order to keep them productive. Huge numbers of birds died in these raised cages and their bodies were simply thrown away like rubbish.
The conditions for the birds who were destined to be packed into crates and sold onto shoots weren’t much better. In one of the farm’s rearing sheds, which housed 16,400 pheasants, 689 of these died within seven weeks. In another shed, 1,955 of the 21,040 pheasants who were housed there died within seven weeks of hatching. These birds never even made it out of the farm to be released into the countryside. These were just two of the farm’s eight rearing sheds.
Among Bonson Wood’s customers is the nearby Tetton Shoot. The Tetton Shoot is a member of the newly-formed British Game Alliance (BGA) which runs an assurance scheme that aims to provide ‘consumers with responsibly and sustainably sourced produce.’ This exposé of Bonson Wood Game Farm, however, explodes this myth and instead reveals the BGA as nothing more than a glossy facade covering up the routine cruelty of intensively reared game birds.
Lee Moon, the spokesperson for the HSA said; “The shooting industry relies on factory farms such as Bonson Wood to supply the 50 million pheasants and partidges it releases to be shot each year. The routine cruelty seen at Bonson Wood is the norm among game farms in the UK and our previous exposé of Knowle Game Farm in Kent last year again highlights this. Feather pecking, cannibalism and appallingly high mortality rates are the standard on pheasant farms, no matter how much the industry attempts to say otherwise.”
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