The Code of Practice for the Welfare of Gamebirds Reared for Sporting Purposes was introduced by the Welsh Government on 1st January 2011. The RSPCA was very disappointed that the Government did not advise against 'enriched' cages to breed game birds particularly given that the Farm Animal Welfare Council (now Committee) - the official advisory body to the UK & devolved administrations - stated that they were unlikely to meet the birds' needs.
Gamebirds are semi-wild, and using outdoor pens and paddocks for small numbers of birds is preferable to restricting them in cages. The RSPCA believes further research would provide scientific evidence in order to recommend the best welfare-based rearing system, as we accept that currently there is very little evidence on the issue.
In April 2017, Natural Resources Wales conducted a consultation reviewing the use of shooting on land managed by them, after concerns were raised about the impact on animal welfare of pheasant shooting. RSPCA Cymru responded to the consultation outlining our concerns about the poor welfare standards of intensively reared game birds and that the codes of practice fall short of what is required to protect the welfare of game birds.
In January 2021, Natural Resources Wales conducted a call to evidence on shooting and trapping of wild birds in Wales. RSPCA highlighted a number of concerns, particularly relating to the lack of transparency and accountability of those involved in such practices. The RSPCA response to that call to evidence can be found in the downloads section.