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David BASC

S Times article on cages

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    Just to let you know Shooting Times is attacking BASC this week for its opposition to the use of battery cages in game farming.

     

    Three game farms that we know of out of around 300 in the UK are using metal battery cages for pheasants and partridges.

     

    Cages damage shooting for three reasons:

     

    1. They’re bad for the welfare of the birds – mortality in cages can be 20%+ compared to 1-5% in pens and partridge boxes
    2. They’re bad for sales of game – there have been complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority about game being described as wild, natural and free range
    3. They damage public perceptions of shooting – BASC hasn’t found an MP prepared to defend them in public.

    A small number of people make a lot of money from cages. They include the Game farmers who use them and have lower staffing costs, the biggest commercial shoots who make savings on birds and their representatives in other shooting organisations. The rest of us lose because shooting is brought into disrepute and its future put in danger.

     

    The notion that British game shooting is dependent on cages and will collapse if cages are banned is ridiculous. The allegation that BASC is siding with the antis is laughable. BASC wants to defend rearing and release, the antis want to make it a crime.

     

    The final nonsense in the article is to criticise BASC for “dividing” shooting by speaking to labour MPs. Cages are a political issue with a measure from the government due before parliament. It makes sense, if you want to influence a Labour government to speak to Labour MPs.

     

    You can find details of BASC ‘s stand on the website here http://www.basc.org.uk/en/media/key_issues...7A3CF8F5423B63E

     

    We’re seeking a minimum spaces for laying stock of 1 square metre per pheasant, 0.5 square metres per grey partridge and 0.29 square metres per redleg. This is the same as the traditional 10x10 pen and the traditional partridge box.

    If you agree with BASC’s stance you might like to send a letter to Shooting Times via STletters@ipcmedia.com

     

    David

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    Can you educate us a bit David, I know not a lot about cages used for pheasants, but presumably they are just used for a short period while the eggs are collected. Secondly I assume cages are used so all the excrement falls out and makes it easy to keep them clean and disease free, which brings us onto grass rearing which has just those problems which is why you need the reduced density of birds.

    Like many thinks in farming some are hard for the public to understand yet are actually beneficial for welfare are we certain that there are no benefits to the system from a birds perspective.

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    all these polotics leave a bad taste in peoples mouths and we seem to be under a constant barrage of it

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    Can you educate us a bit David, I know not a lot about cages used for pheasants, but presumably they are just used for a short period while the eggs are collected. Secondly I assume cages are used so all the excrement falls out and makes it easy to keep them clean and disease free, which brings us onto grass rearing which has just those problems which is why you need the reduced density of birds.

    Like many thinks in farming some are hard for the public to understand yet are actually beneficial for welfare are we certain that there are no benefits to the system from a birds perspective.

     

    i understood that cages are a french idea but i may be wrong , how come they can and we cant

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    A picture of birds in a barren metal raised cage is here: http://www.basc.org.uk/en/media/key_issues...7A3CF8F5423B63E

     

    Yes some of the excrement may well fall through the bottom of the cage, and get stuck on the mesh as well –

     

    There is an option for ‘enrichment’ of barren metal cages, BASC does not support the enrichment of small barren cages. Enrichment often consists of installing an area of artificial turf and a low perch. Enriching a cage which is too small does not make that cage any bigger or better for the bird. BASC has been told by game farmers who have tried this sort of enrichment that it can make matters worse. Cleaning, for example, becomes more difficult and we have heard directly of attempts to use power washers to clean cages with the birds still inside. The code does not specify what enrichment would be required and how it might improve the bird’s welfare in a cage laying system.

     

    This type of egg production does shooting no favours in BASC's oppinion, and as my post reads, the mortality rate in traditional pens is far lower.

     

    Remember, the vast majority of game farmers, well over 98%, use traditional pens and wooden partridge box’s for egg production, only a very few very large farmers currently choose to use the barren cages.

     

    We want to support the local and traditional suppliers and not have them pushed out of business!

     

    David

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    I do not know enough about it really but surely what that picture shows is no better then battery hens in egg production is it? How many people on here won't buy caged hens eggs?

     

    I know for one that I don't.

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    Though you may well push all partridge breeders out of business anyway by the sounds of the article and increase the import of eggs from more efficient systems abroad. I can see the ideal small breeder being kept in business but money talks and if they can't compete with abroad then you're on a loosing battle. Interesting that most organisations are working with the farmers to improve the system yet you've taken the all out ban it approach.

     

    MC its for a limited egg laying period and keeping lots of birds clean and disease free on grass / mud is a nightmare especially if you get a wet season. I just wonder if it is an animal welfare issue or not

    Edited by al4x

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    I take your point about battery chickens of course, as I feel exactly the same way, and I ma prepared to pay for NOT buying battery eggs.

     

    However many may well turn a 'blind eye' to chicken production for the sake of cheap chicken or cheap eggs (seen the price of organic chickens!) but we are talking here about breeding game for shooting, a different proposition think as we need to be whiter than white I suggest, and make sure shooting is shown in a positive light, do barren cages for mass egg production do this?

     

    David

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    Barren ones don't hence the other main organisations opting for enriched ones,

     

    siding with the RSPCA, LACS and Animal aid can't be good

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    Al4x

     

    Please don’t be suckered into the rubbish claims that the BASC stance will damage partridge breeding- this is NOT the case.

     

    We have said all along that the traditional use of partridge boxes is fine, provided they have the correct floor space of course, we are concerned about the large barren cages used for pheasants.

     

    However, for reasons best known to themselves, some 'spokesmen' from other organisations seem to be saying that BASC are also against partridge boxes and ignoring everything we have ever prionted! I wonder why they are saying this when BASC are very clearly saying hits is not the case, and have been for years?

     

    If enriching is such a great idea, why do none of the main users of barren cages use it?

     

    Just becasue RSPCA et al agree with the banning of barren cages does not make it wrong!

     

    David

    Edited by David BASC

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    I take your point about battery chickens of course, as I feel exactly the same way, and I ma prepared to pay for NOT buying battery eggs.

     

    However many may well turn a 'blind eye' to chicken production for the sake of cheap chicken or cheap eggs (seen the price of organic chickens!) but we are talking here about breeding game for shooting, a different proposition think as we need to be whiter than white I suggest, and make sure shooting is shown in a positive light, do barren cages for mass egg production do this?

    David

     

     

    No they don't, But as the point you make about cheap chicken and cheap eggs is valid. Why are these barren cages used? You say that they are only used by a few large game and egg producers so it is obvious. It is clearly cheaper to use a set up like this or it is more efficient so the can produce more for less input.

     

    Exactly the same as forced chicken raising.

     

    Al4x,

     

    Is it necessarily a bad thing to agree with someone just because you don't agree the rest of the time?

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    a clear ban though presumably would go down this route, yes the BASC is saying it but when were just one set of views taken. The company you're keeping with LACS and animal aid won't distinguish a box from a cage in their lobbying and will use your backing to their intended end whether its what you meant or not its still keeping breeding birds in confinement, presumably this is why the Game farming association and NGO and CA are voicing concerns about your stance

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    Ok a few points to straighten out:

     

    photo_of_pheasants_in_a_battery_cage.jpg

     

    Nobody's siding with the antis. They want to ban all game rearing and release.

    We want to ensure good standards of pheasant rearing.

     

    Pheasants are kept in the cages for their "economic life" of 2-3 years.

    That's ten hens and a cock in an area no bigger than your front door.

     

    The issue is all about providing adequate space for the birds. At least one square meter per pheasant. We have specified minimum space for partridges as well, which comply with traditional partridge boxes.

     

    We have a serious smear campaign on our hands - with organisations and individuals attempting to damage BASC over the issue because they disagree with our views and some have vested interests in keeping cages.

     

    We will not be able to defend game shooting for long in the public mind if the birds are seen to come from battery cages.

    Edited by Simon Clarke

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    You presume an awful lot al4x!

     

    But of course you are fully entitled to your views on the best way to rear pheasants, and thus way may or may not harm game shooting, we have made our position very clear and the reasons for our stance and have done for years.

     

    Others are attacking our stance by making hypothetical claims!

     

    David

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    when domestic poultry finnishes the egg laying cycle its life is ended and probably feeds someones pet , but pheasants are only in those cages for a short while and then sold as ex-layers to shoots

    i dont see why BASC is taking the stance it has taken , not well thought out me thinks

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    ok thats a barren raised laying pen which all organisations are in agreement should be banned, whats wrong with adapting it which is what the other organisations want and DEFRA seem to be recommending.

    Edited by al4x

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    I would not class any time in a small barren cage as a 'short while', but you may well disagree.

     

    I can assure you the reasons for our stance have been very well thought through - have you read the detial on the BASC web site, or in the BASC magazine?

     

    BASC does not support the enrichment of small barren cages. Enrichment often consists of installing an area of artificial turf and a low perch. Enriching a cage which is too small does not make that cage any bigger or better for the bird. BASC has been told by game farmers who have tried this sort of enrichment that it can make matters worse. Cleaning, for example, becomes more difficult and we have heard directly of attempts to use power washers to clean cages with the birds still inside. The code does not specify what enrichment would be required and how it might improve the bird’s welfare in a cage laying system.

     

     

    David

    Edited by David BASC

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    I would not class 2-3 years in a small barren cage as a 'short while', but you may well disagree.

     

    I can assure you the reasons for our stance have been very well thought through - have you read the detial on the BASC web site, or in the BASC magazine?

     

    BASC does not support the enrichment of small barren cages. Enrichment often consists of installing an area of artificial turf and a low perch. Enriching a cage which is too small does not make that cage any bigger or better for the bird. BASC has been told by game farmers who have tried this sort of enrichment that it can make matters worse. Cleaning, for example, becomes more difficult and we have heard directly of attempts to use power washers to clean cages with the birds still inside. The code does not specify what enrichment would be required and how it might improve the bird’s welfare in a cage laying system.

     

     

    David

    i dont know of any game farm that keeps its laying hens for 2-3 years , but i suppose you know best

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    The traditional boys - who do not use barren cages, will sell off ex layers from their open pens like you say, after their first year of laying the others though...

     

    David

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    The numbers come from cage users who we have visited in this country and who have described to us how they operate.

    We have also been over to France to see systems in operation there.

     

    We do not know of a single cage user who is currently "enriching" their cages. Some have tried and abandoned the attempt because it makes matters worse, as described by David above. Enrichment means adding in a bit of astro turf, a brick and a bit of broomhandle for a perch. The pheasants do not have enough head room to perch properly, nor can all of them perch at once.

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    were these same game farmers up for banning the use of them David or were they simply saying that keeping the system as is was the best option from the people who have actual experience of it.

     

    Its pretty pointless worrying though I suppose as people will just buy their eggs from France where the systems are widespread. I'm only voicing any opinion simply because with a fair agricultural background problems with rearing any animal usually stem from the removal of their own waste. In the conventional systems this just gets trodden into the grass and mud fine on a dry year bad on a wet one. You've only got to look at how fast disease can hit a release pen in bad conditions and what the birds look like when running on mud to see where the hardships are with rearing birds. Its fine to dose them up on antibiotics etc but thats the side that seems to be being ignored, these systems are being used by some of the biggest producers so why did they start. was it purely financial or because you can keep a lot of birds like it without disease running rife

    Edited by al4x

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    The pheasants do not have enough head room to perch properly, nor can all of them perch at once.

    I was just wondering, can they perch in the traditional systems? All the laying pens I have seen provide no perching facilities.

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    All depends on how much is put in to the pens - if they're well provided with branches and brashings then yes. The main thing is they have a lot more space.

     

    Another point on all this:

     

    BASC is the UK's largest shooting organisation. The vast majority of our members shoot game. We are not in the business of putting ourselves out of business. It's nonsense to claim that we're set to destroy game shooting.

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    As you have agricultural experience al4x I guess you can answer your own question, ie the answer is one of ecconomics.

     

    Agian the figures on mortality speak for themselves.

     

    BASC wants to support local traditional British farmers selling their eggs, (the 98% or so of them remember) this has been key all along and as I have mentioned before we are launching a 'Local and traditional is best' campaign and would encourage you all to support it.

     

    David

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