Shocking statistics recently released by DEFRA revealed that 1,241,460 ready-to-hatch pheasant eggs were imported from Poland into the UK between 1st May 2018 and 30th April 2019. 48,170 pheasant eggs were imported from Poland in 2015, making an increase of 2400% in just four years.
In May, we visited a pheasant farm located in the Polish village of Klon, which supplies the UK shooting industry with Bazanty pheasants. Over a thousand raised wire cages make up the breeding site, with each one holding one male and eight female pheasants. The farm boasts of producing 50,000 eggs per week between March and July.
Each bird is fitted with a cruel and intrusive plastic 'mask' over their beak in an attempt to lessen injuries sustained by pecking at each other due to the extreme stress of confinement. These ‘masks’ were fitted by piercing the nasal septum, which is an illegal practice in the UK. The females are fitted with 'saddles', a piece of cloth designed to keep the birds productive as they have their back feathers ripped out by repetitive mating by the male in their cage. The flooring of each cage is just wire mesh, causing injuries to the birds' feet as their feet won't touch the ground for months on end.
At present, Eurotunnel, DFDS Seaways and Brittany Ferries are all transporting factory farmed gamebird eggs into the UK, where they will be hatched and shot.
Our spokesperson, Lee Moon said; "The shooting industry has grown significantly over the last few years, with a rise in gamebird imports largely fuelling this growth. Around 43 million pheasants are released into the British countryside each year and half of these start off life in factory farms in Europe. No environmental risk assessment is carried out as releasing such huge numbers of non-native gamebirds had led to an increase in predators of species such as curlew which the shooting industry falsely champions itself as protecting. All this suffering is simply to provide live targets for wealthy shooters to blast out of the sky. We're calling on Eurotunnel, DFDS Seaways and Brittany Ferries to all cease transporting gamebirds into the UK and in so doing end the lifeline that they are providing this cruel industry."