Over the first weekend of May, we visited two partridge rearing sites belonging to Caçabrava, a game breeding company based near Tomar, Portugal. The barren wire cages, that hold two red legged partridges each, are as far removed from the birds’ natural habitat as is possible. Light bulbs are situated either in front of or above the cages in order to mimic daylight and so increase egg production and the netting above each cage causes head injuries through repeated attempts to escape. Perversely, ‘Caçabrava’ literally translates as ‘wild game’ but our exposé reveals that these birds’ lives are anything but wild.
Caçabrava supply two hatcheries in the UK; Meadow Game and Iberian Game, both of whom in turn supply shoots with day old chicks. We found that partridges hatched at Meadow Game were being reared on at a site on land owned by the Duke of Somerset, just a few fields from one of the ‘top ten shoots in the UK’, the Brixton Deverill Shoot in Wiltshire. The Brixton Deverill Shoot is a member of the British Game Alliance (BGA), a new initiative brought about to market game as ‘wild’ and ‘ethical’ to the public. However, the BGA’s only standard regarding where shoots source their birds from states that, ‘birds released on to your shoot must have been reared to the Government game rearing standards, or equivalent if sourced from abroad.’
This standard is so deliberately vague so as to allow birds whose parents are confined to wire cages already made illegal for use with chickens to be shot on BGA member shoots. It also gives a green light for factory farms such as Caçabrava in Portugal and L’Envol de Retz and Gibovendée in France to supply the UK’s shooting industry with vast numbers of birds to simply be blasted out of the sky by wealthy shooters.
Over 27 million gamebird chicks and eggs were imported from the EU during the last 12 months alone (this vast number even excludes partridge eggs due to a lack of data), and so ending these imports will have a huge effect on this cruel bloodsport. However, we need your help!
P&O Ferries are the only ferry company that have stopped allowing gamebird chicks and eggs on board their ferries. Although Brittany Ferries have stopped transporting chicks, they currently still allow hatching eggs. DFDS say they allow livestock imports on a ‘case by case’ basis and still allow hatching eggs.
Please contact Brittany Ferries and DFDS to ask them to stop providing a lifeline to this horrific industry and cease transporting gamebird hatching eggs.