Defra conducted research into gamebird welfare in different rearing systems. The 2010 to 2012 project AW1303 looked at whether cage-based breeding can meet the needs of gamebirds, and if not, to identify best practice. This research found that for pheasants and partridges, providing increased space does not necessarily equate with enhanced welfare.
Prior to this, Defra’s advisory body, the Farm Animal Welfare Committee (FAWC), was tasked with considering all aspects of gamebird farming in order to inform future work in this area. This assessment included a range of traditional and more intensive methods of gamebird breeding and rearing, including: breeding partridges in cages; breeding pheasants in grass pens or raised cages; rearing partridges and pheasants in brooder huts with grass pens; and commercial broiler chicken-type sheds with outdoor runs.
In 2008 FAWC published an Opinion on the Welfare of Farmed Gamebirds, and its recommendations fed into Defra’s current Code of Practice for the Welfare of Gamebirds Reared for Sporting Purposes: