The HSA can exclusively reveal that just under 24 million pheasants and partridges were imported into the UK in 2021 to be killed on shoots throughout the country. This makes up roughly half of all such birds released into the UK countryside.
DEFRA figures show that 23,990,188 birds were shipped in from factory farms in Europe last year, to game farms and shoots throughout the UK. ‘Gamebirds’ are brought over as either one day old chicks or as eggs ready for hatching. This shocking figure even excludes the number of partridge hatching eggs imported as DEFRA does not keep these data. The vast majority of these birds come from factory farms in France.
There were, however, 381,860 fewer birds imported in 2021 than in 2020. Shockingly, 33,221,718 ‘gamebirds’ were imported in 2019, prior to the COVID pandemic.
This year (in 2022), pheasant and partridge imports from France have so far been practically brought to a halt as bird flu is sweeping through the Vendée and Loire Atlantique regions where most game farms are located. Some within the shooting industry are predicting that shooting businesses will see a 30% – 40% fall as a result this year, a larger hit than the COVID pandemic.
In 2019, we exposed the horrific conditions that birds in French game farms are subject to. Row upon rows of wire cages held birds, as they pecked at each other due to the extreme stress of such an unnatural existence. Pheasants were fitted with cruel plastic ‘masks’ and some suffered ‘scalping’ – an industry used to describe injuries to the heads caused by repeated attempts to escape their cages.