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UK supermarkets paying for ‘game birds’ to be kept in cruel and environmentally damaging cages

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Animal Aid claims cages fundamentally breach government’s code which states that farms must have accommodation that fulfills birds' natural behaviors (fly, roam, roost, dust-bathe, wing-flap).

JANE DALTON: ‘Supermarkets which boast of only selling eggs from free-range hens are buying pheasants and partridges reared in “cruel and environmentally damaging” cages, animal welfare activists have claimed. Marks & Spencer (M&S), Waitrose and Sainsbury’s have been accused of double standards over the treatment of game birds they sell as meat.

Rights group Animal Aid contacted all supermarkets to ask whether they bought from farms that caged the breeding birds. Crowding in cages causes high rates of injury and premature death and many birds are fitted with restrictive face masks to limit damage caused by stressed birds attacking one another, according to game shooting opponents.

Sainsbury’s had confirmed to Animal Aid that the partridges it buys are caged, the activist group said. Waitrose said its birds were not caged but “penned in pairs”, which the rights group said “raises some alarm bells”. Animal Aid said M&S had “dodged our question 11 times in 18 months, and we are still awaiting an answer”.

The group claims cages fundamentally breach the government’s code of practice for game birds, which states they must have accommodation that fulfils their natural behaviours. Caged birds cannot fly, roam, roost, dustbathe, wing-flap or regulate their own temperature… Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and M&S all state they only stock free-range eggs.

Sainsbury’s website says: “We care about the hens laying our eggs. That’s why we only stock eggs from 100 per cent British and cage-free hens.” Every year 43 million captive-reared pheasants and nine million red-legged partridges are released to be shot – numbers that have risen sharply since the 1980s’.  SOURCE…

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